This could just as easily be a quick, obligatory Facebook post, something like “Guess who’s starting high school?” accompanied by an adorable photo of Goldie in her bright, shiny uniform. But wait, I have a blog. Let’s draw it out some and try to answer a basic question: “How the hell did this happen?!”
The principal at Goldie’s high school is slightly disabled physically and so her speech is halting, which results in keen articulation that makes you sit up and really listen. Her thoughts are crystal clear, wise, and comforting. At the freshman parent orientation last week, the husband and I heard her explain that while we may have thought elementary and then middle school went on a long time, the four years of high school fly by. It sounded important to her that we know this, catch this, take it in. For those of us who enjoy our teenager’s company (and I do), they’ll be off to college in five minutes and we’ll miss them. But holy crap, it’s more than that. Goldie is a part of me. Sure, billions of women have done this before – sent their children off to high school where all that high school stuff happens – and lived to tell. Indeed, that’s reassuring, but how do you put the breaks on time? How do you soak up their essence, the way we all inhaled their powdery scent when babies, so that they feel close even when they’re not?
Don’t mistake my sentimental writing for disingenuous motherhood treacle. Parenting these three girls has been hell nearly as often as heaven. That’s just the nature of the job. But I’ve come full circle and Goldie and I have a great relationship. She makes me laugh more than she makes me cry, and she knows me as well as I know her. So seeing her this morning, looking beautiful, off on her next adventure…well, it put a lump in my throat. Some of that has to do with the past year and the vicissitudes we’ve experienced in our family: my mom’s death, my sister’s divorce. Let’s face it, even those who enjoy change generally like to control how it happens. But motherhood? If you’re doing it right, or at least not totally wrong, your children grow up and fly away from you whether you think you want that or not. Simply put – you’ve heard it before – roots then wings.
And so yesterday, or 14 years ago, Goldie was a bundle. She had a voracious appetite and a big head (though not as big as Miss T’s). Instead of rolling to her side and pushing herself up into a sitting position, she’d do stomach crunches and hoist herself up with her abs. She liked to dance in the middle of a crowd when the beat was right, and then settle into my lap at night for Margaret Wise Brown’s The Big Red Barn. No matter how early she awoke (and sometimes it was early), it felt like Christmas morning because she was the best gift I’d ever received in my life. And now – what the heck? – she’s in high school. She’s got Geometry, English Honors, and Biology. She’s 5’7” with long blond hair and a throaty laugh. Time is relentless. I’m going to hang on to these next four years as best I can and pay close attention – the high school principal suggested as much – even knowing that I’ll lose my grip regardless.
Good luck Goldie. Go shine.