My daughter, whom I adore, is about to turn 15.
Those of you who have been following my parenting columns over the years in the West Island Chronicle and the Suburban are only too aware what a long, strange road it’s been to this point.
That angelic little baby who was too happy to stuff her face full of cut up spaghetti and stain her face with marinara staining her cheeks has grown up to be a wonderful, kind, considerate and athletic young person.
Her continued success in school, her social life and in sports is a particular point of pride for her parents, and her father, especially.
Her mother and I could not be happier or prouder.
So why is my heart breaking today?
She’s considering taking a hockey scholarship to a U.S. prep school, and may well end up moving out of the house next September to go off to school. Her end goal is to secure a U.S. college scholarship and in our mind the best avenue to do so is to be visible to recruiters at the big northeastern hockey schools like Boston University, Harvard or Princeton. Her grades and her ability are not in question. The only two questions are, I think, are A) how am I going to pay for this stuff? and B) my baby girl can’t fly the coop this early, can she?
Now, granted, it’s extremely likely that she’ll move back in the house after her university studies are complete, but, like I wasn’t ready for her to start dating, I’m really not ready for her to pack up and move six hours away at this young an age.
But, like so many things that happen to us in life, I didn’t choose these circumstances; they chose me, and it’s not up to me to change them. It’s only up to me to deal with them.
So, I will. I will remember that her mother and I have spent her entire life up to now with the idea that our job is to get our kids to be functioning members of society capable of navigating the world on their own. Teaching them independence rather than having to depend on mom and dad has always been important for me.
Mostly because I'm lazy.
That’s the rational mind talking, of course. The irrational mind longs for the days when all she required to be happy in a day was ice cream, playing on the front lawn, climbing trees and swimming with her parents.
Now she’s going to swim in the really, really big pool. Without me.
That’s downright terrifying.
The fear of the unknown is always my biggest concern, and this is no different. I’m concerned for the day that’s coming where she desperately needs something from in the house – and she’s living six hours’ drive away. Granted, this doesn’t scare her nearly as much as it scares me, but that’s to be expected. She’s a teenager in the suburbs. They have no natural enemies.
She’s also got a boyfriend and she’s hanging out with friends and she’s thinking of moving out of the house and it’s all happening so fast!
OK. Deep breaths. In through nose out through mouth.
You are the light of my life, kiddo. I don’t know if you can appreciate how proud I am of the smart, strong, kind young woman you have become. I can’t tell you how many nights I walked the dogs marvelling over something you did that day. I can’t even consider that you might know how proud I am of your character.
I still question your taste in music, but we can’t agree on everything.
I also want you to know that no matter what you do in life, you will have made me proud with your sheer kindness and intelligence alone. But your athletic determination, your tenacity and work ethic, and your ability to rise to the occasion at the biggest times swells my chest, and your beautiful heart makes me giddy with pride and adoration.
You can do whatever you want to do in life, and that’s not the case for everyone.
It’s not always going to be easy and sometimes it will be downright miserable. I have no doubt that you will as your dreams will take you.
I will mean that forever and ever.
And if and when you have children of your own, I hope they bring you as much joy as you have brought me.
You deserve that.
Even if you still listen to mumblerap.