My daughter, Hannah, leaves for college next Sunday. This is her last week in her beloved Olathe. She is leaving claw marks all the way down the highway. She is soaking up all the good, summer memories she can before starting a new life in college. That’s good! Hannah’s friends and the Olathe South theatre program have been her oasis, in my opinion, in the craziness that has been her home in the past 4 years. I have been thankful for this.
I must say, however, that she has weathered the storm well! I respect her and am proud of her!
Actually, I’m proud of both she and Baird. They are maturing into strong adults. While no parent always agrees with every decision their kids make, the point is they are making decisions and not looking for someone else to choose for them. A pretty important lesson to learn and very fundamental to life. I am happy with our relationship right now. The three of us are in a good place.
As I have heard the stories of other families’ divorces, a frequent componant is the kids take sides with one parent over another. Hannah and Baird haven’t done that. Both maintain contact with Greta and Scott, and me. Although I’m sure at times they shake their heads with confusion, they are there, with love and respect. I appreciate that and respect it.
Our final week together will probably come and go as most others have. Our schedules will clash. I will leave for work while she is asleep. She will come in late at night and we will share a sleepy greeting and “Good night”. but I will feel a melancholy with each greeting. One week from Monday, Hannah will take another step towards adulthood. Not the final one, adulthood comes in a jagged mix of start’s and stops in all our lives, like a person just learning to drive a manual transmission automobile. Our post-modern, urban/suburban culture doesn’t have the clear cut break that an agrerian culture once did. Adolesence is a fairly recent, and lengthening, reality of our technological world. We leave… and come back…. and leave again.
If I have done anything right as a parent, it is in allowing my grip on my kids to be relaxed. Greta and I understood early, that trying to control our kids would NOT work. Especially when they grew older. While it is still my responsibility to ask questions and bring up issues for them to think about, in the end, THEY make their own decisions. Oh…. and I am responsible to love them…. to be one of at least two people in the world they know will love them unconditionally. We share a bond of blood and genetic code. That can be both good and bad… as Baird is learning when he notices a slowing of his metabolism with age and Hannah struggles with distractability. But they both share a passion for life and others with Greta and I. They both have a good work ethic, especially when they love what they are doing.
Ultimately, they are both good people. I am thankful!
There are pictures I will take with me of Hannah:
… of her wrapping her arms around her mother in a passionate hug during a devastating time in Greta’s life.
…of our conversations late at night about our lives and the people we care about.
… of her final choral concert, singing with 4 good friends, alive in her element.
… of her accepting the Best Actor Award at her last theatre banquet in high school.
…of 6 year old Hannah on the beach in ankle deep water befriending another child as a long, lost friend.
…of her bed piled high with stuffed animals, year after year after year.
I am sure there will be pictures added in the years to come, but they will be somehow different. Although she will always be my daughter, she will no longer share my address. I will be no less proud of her, but we won’t share the same proximity. That is OK. That is life… the way it is supposed to be.
But the new pictures will never erase the old…