Last night was the 8th grade formal and my 8th grader was brimming with excitement. Her dad took her to get her nails done, she insisted on acrylics as "all" her friends had them too. I came home early from work to help her get ready because of course she needed make-up and curled hair for this fancy occasion. I watched her transform in front of my eyes and got a glimpse of the future. I thought, where did the time go? I’ve been so aware and appreciative of each stage, but still I sit here feeling like it’s all happened way too fast. I wish I could pause time, but I know from experience those wishes only make time go faster.
It's not lost on me that my lamenting over her growing up seems trivial compared to the parents who are mourning their children who never returned home from school yesterday. When I kissed my kids good-bye in the morning, the thought never crossed my mind that they wouldn’t be here when I got home. Things are changing and not all of it is for the better. My daughter is so innocently excited to start high school next year. The news of another school shooting is no longer shocking to her and her classmates. But, like most teenagers, they are self-absorbed in their own “problems” and have not let fear override their anticipation of what’s to come. Beneath the acrylic nails, eye shadow and mascara, there is still innocence, trust, faith and hope in the opportunities and experiences high school will bring.
Amongst all this talk of change and tragedy, there is also an old-fashioned love story. The monarchy, hundreds of years old and struggling to find it’s place in the modern world, still has the power to bring together millions of people around the world to watch a real-life fairy tale wedding of a Prince and Princess. In a world where the divorce rate could have jaded us, we still believe in love.
And isn’t that what life is all about?
Love of our children at every age.
Love of their friends that feel like they don’t fit in.
Love that is seen in fairy tales.
What they don’t tell you about parenthood is that none of this ever gets easy. Sure, you get the hang of some things, but there is always something new on the horizon. Change is constant, even when we want things to stay the same. And no matter how many times we talk about change, we are still shocked and surprised when it happens.
The poet Rumi says it best:
“Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.”
One of the hardest lessons for us to learn as parents is that by letting go, we actually get to hold on.
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