29 May Kiki’s Senior Letter
I sat down to write a “senior letter” for my soon to be graduate, Kiki this week. I can usually pull a few thoughts together when given a writing assignment but this one from the high school to be opened at her senior lock-in party was agony. Just me staring at a blank paper. The instructions were encouraging; essentially asking us to tell our child why we were proud. But only cliché Hallmark comments were rolling through my head and I had to walk away.
I should be a pro at this since she’s our second in line to wear the cap and gown. I know the routine. Kiki has been celebrating for an entire year as each event in her senior life is pronounced “the last time.” It’s the last basketball game, the last school trip, and the last dance… I admittedly get annoyed as her priorities have shifted from spending time at home to soaking up every sacred moment of “the last time” with her friends whom she can’t imagine her life without. I take deep breaths and even have maintained composure when she cried in the car one afternoon telling me how much she was going to miss our dog next year.
Fortunately my May is packed with projects, running my husband’s graduation business and prepping for retreat season. I don’t have time to mull over this transition. One teen is moving back for the summer, one is learning to drive, and I’m dutifully roped into end of school year insanity to keep my mind occupied despite my vows as the experienced “old mom” in my 10 year olds class that I would say no more often. Life is a frenetic pace of parental deadlines that serves Kiki well. There hasn’t been much time for me to panic about missing her.
And yet, I know it’s going to happen. I can’t for sure tell you when but eventually I’ll need to concede that this minute is here. With my oldest Teddy it wasn’t at his graduation ceremony or his grad party. I wasn’t ready to cry. It was at lunch right before college drop off when Ted said something significant to him. With no warning the floodgates opened and I was full on, snot-nosed, ugly crying in a public restaurant. It was the moment when I realized that my home life has forever changed and despite it being everything I thought I wanted there was no exit strategy and no way to keep him home for just a few more years. He was ready but I was not.
So Kiki’s paper assignment stumped me for days. It should have been good prep for me in releasing this butterfly but writing this letter felt too much like I’m allowing it to happen. I have turned around and she grew up. Pigtails to prom dresses in the blink of an eye. Recently, I stopped to look and I did feel proud. She was radiating in her silliness and she is kind and she has guts. She is a thinker and her old soul has already led her down marked paths of opportunity. All of these are qualities I want for this girl as she exits world away from me. I’m most proud that she survived gracefully despite our imperfect parenting.
I finally wrote the words I’ve always said. Don’t eat processed food and take self-defense classes. There is more good in the world than bad. Be a grower of the good. Remember the invaluable words of the Rolling Stones because you cant always get what you want. And most importantly know that I love you more than anything else in the world.