Michael didn’t transition terribly well as a child. Little things, like leaving my arms to go to another’s, getting in the tub, getting out of the tub –took actual planning . When we visited Disney with him as a toddler, he decided, pretty adamantly, that seeing Mickey simply wasn’t worth the price of not sleeping in his own bed. He staged an escape from the hotel room sometime after midnight.
Alex, on the other hand, slipped from day-to-day, calamity-to-calamity with little pause. With regard to travel, I may have set the stage for a bit of that non-drama because in an effort to shield her from the what-ifs of a canceled trip, I rarely informed her of plans until they were set in motion. On more than one occasion, my little girl woke in the morning with no notion that by evening she’d be airplane-delivered to a new destination. In hindsight, that bit of parental protection had its own cost. We rarely enjoyed together the fun of planning a trip. There was no anticipation –only action. But then again, that may have well-suited my always-ready-to-go kid. Transitions were no problem for Alexandra.
Are you looking forward to graduation? is the new question with which Alex is greeted by most every adult she encounters these days. To which she gives an honest reply: no.
And she’s not kidding. In fact, the simple word understates the passion it belies.
Her no is pretty resounding. It speaks to her honesty (see previous post) and contradicts her resilience (see previous post).
But it really isn’t that hard to understand.
She’s happy. Happy where she is, with what she’s doing, and most importantly with who she is.
Alexa (her choice of name-change, not mine) is a beautiful 21-year-old college senior. She has a good group of friends, a couple of part-time jobs, a family who loves and supports her.
Life is good.
But it hasn’t always been.
For big reasons and little ones, Alexa has suffered her share of life’s disappointments. But she’s reached the other side of a whole lot of them, now. And the view from this end of the tunnel is pretty good.
What’s damn scary, though, is what comes next.
Mostly because she doesn’t know what that is.
And it’s the not knowing that’s pulling her through the stages of grief she recently posted as her Facebook status. Not knowing is scary. But by now, there’s a whole lot of stuff she should know.
Someone should tell her.
Oh God, that someone’s probably me.
Sweetie, you should know, and more importantly believe, what I’ve always told you: that every day you do something that makes me proud.
You should know that, although she’s still inside you, you are not the third-grader who had to suffer the torment of other girls. You no longer have to temper your exuberance to the expectations of others; you’re not bound by their constraints. The women in your life now seem to get you and I think, love you in part, because of the very spirit that you’ve sometimes tried to hide.
I am so glad that you believe your sisters have your back. But long before they came into your life, you had a HUGE family who would do anything for you. You got that free, had it from the get-go.
All the other stuff, you earned –big time.
You deserve the diploma, but also a whole lot of accolades that go along with it. Not only because of who you are, but also because of who you have become.
You are an amazing young woman. You are savvy and sure and resilient, but also warm and passionate and caring. You have a depth of emotions, and you shouldn’t fear the weight of their pull. You’re strong enough now to weather the tide and the turbulence. Literally, from the day you were born, you were fighting a battle. But you’ve always won. And you always will.
That I believe this should count for something. I still think I know you better than anyone. That I believe in you should count for more.
Or better still, trust yourself.