My third child is graduating from high school later today. It's a wonderful day that marks the successful completion of many years of hard work. Hers and mine.
But it also marks the beginning.
She is eighteen. She is legally responsible for her actions. She could move out and do whatever she wants without my approval.
Those of you with small children will read this and think eighteen sounds so old. You won't be able to imagine that tiny baby or toddler so far into the future. And you probably think by the time they turn eighteen you'll be ready. You'll see how smart and independent they are. You'll see them reaching for the world and you'll do everything you can to help them grab it. You'll know it's time for them to leap into the wonder around them and learn to fly. You think you'll be ready.
You're kidding yourself.
They'll feel like they're all grown up and you'll still see that five-year old, crying because she hurt herself on the playground They'll be making plans to take off on their grand adventure and you'll think of all the times they called you from school begging you to bring them something they forgot.
How will they make it in the big, bad world without you? Why aren't they content to stay tucked safely under your wing forever?
Well, they outgrow that wing. They just don't fit anymore. They eventually see the fragility of that wing and realize it's not as safe as they thought and they need to create their own shelter. And they need to learn to fly.
You will understand all this in your head, but your heart will still ache for simpler times. You will yearn for those days when all they wanted was to climb into bed with you and snuggle up. Those days when a juice box or a popsicle made everything all better.
And with the strength of Hercules you will open your heart and release them into the world.