It’s not that I don’t think you’re ready. You’re active and smart and social. You work and set goals to meet them. You make consistently good choices. You have a compass suited for self-direction. You’ve grown taller than me. You’ve even grown away from me – pushing back, questioning – becoming an individual with thoughts, beliefs, ideas and experiences separate from the whole. And I love it. All of this, as hard as it can be to face, is the point of raising children – to grow you up, out, and away. So we start the great journey of high school soon, the final frontier between childhood and your future.
All summer I thought of this, without a tear or twinge of sentimentality. You, my dear, are just ready. And I always found comfort in that truth. Even if heading into this new chapter means it ends that much quicker, it is exciting for all us. But recently, as the start draws near, I feel myself hesitating. I have so much I want to say or maybe I’ve said it all, but I want to collect it, tuck it all in one place. So I scribbled notes on napkins and scrap paper and journals asking myself, “Have I said everything that I need to say? Have I been clear? Are we really prepared for this?” I look critically at the foundation we have laid for you and feel proud of what we have done, how you have grown and the potential for all that is to come. But still I think of the barriers, the blocks, the challenges to getting you on the other side of these four years happy and whole.
And today, as I picked you up from high school soccer tryouts, I remembered what it felt like to be in your shoes. Vivid and fleeting were those days that formed me. All at once, I loved those days and I’m happy they are behind me. Such is the duality of life. And now, my child, you are the one stepping forward to be shaped. A final required phase before you lead yourself away from us. I think of all the things I hoped to show you and teach you before now. But the time is passing. And you stand before me, growing, grown. So, I offer you the entirety of my heart, my fierce loyalty, and my relentless commitment to parenting you. And of course, I offer the notes I have scribbled in your honor, that even listed here, still don’t seem like enough. There’s more I want you to know. But I’m sure it will feel like that for the duration of my life and I’ll just need to stand with you, while you live it.
And if you remember only one thing, let it be this: Whether you do or you don’t – my love for you is not conditional, not measurable, not connected to the outcome of your life. I will feel proud and I will feel disappointed. I will be certain and I will be afraid. I will know and I won’t. I am still growing and changing and figuring life out too. But underneath all of this life we are living, all of this life we are trying so damn hard to get right, my love for you runs steady and unchanging. And even in the messy notes, the corners of my mind, and my infinite offerings on how to live fully, my love for you is the only thing I know for sure. It is my only guide.
So go forward and do your thing. Embrace it all. Just be you. It’s the best way to be.