The Big Day


Our daughter was born in June, three weeks overdue. She came bursting into this world on her own schedule, and has done so ever since. In the weeks leading up to her college graduation, you can imagine how I’ve been reminiscing. I pulled out her baby album, looked through pictures of when she was little, and stood in her now empty room, remembering how the floor used to be covered in clothes.

This accomplishment of hers is the first for our family, and we couldn’t be more proud. Yes, the college degree is amazing on its own, but it’s really more about the woman she’s become. The good friend she is. The loving and caring daughter with the quick wit she has always been. The sister who has adored her brother from the first moment they laid eyes on one another.

Her path to this graduation has flown. She took her first college courses within weeks of graduating from high school. Smart and frugal, she spent the next three years working full time and going to school at the local junior college, trudging through her general ed classes and finding her niche working with kids. When she transferred to the university two years ago, it was bittersweet for the hubby and me. She’s only two hours away – as is her brother – but for a homebody girl like ours, it might as well have been on the moon. She watched us, wide-eyed and putting on a brave front, as we drove away that day and left her to her new life in a new city. It took everything in me – in my husband too – not to dissolve into tears and beg her to come home.

But oh my, time does change things. She informed me, not so long ago, that she doesn’t think she’ll ever move back home (or even to our hometown). My heart took a bit of a tumble, but how could I not be happy for her? She is so happy living her independent life with her friends and her job. She has great roommates, a safe apartment, and a packed schedule. She has created a life for herself we could only hope she’d find.

Yes, we’re happy that our independent butterfly has flown, but there will always be a subtle sense of grief that I feel whenever I see the empty bedrooms she and her brother once occupied. Our house is far too empty and quiet, that’s for sure.

It’s taken us some time to adjust to being empty-nesters, and I readily admit to getting a little teary-eyed whenever either of my kids heads home after spending the weekend with us. But then I remind myself….we have done exactly what we set out to do when we decided to have our kids: we raised them with an abundance of love, very firm rules, and always encouraged them to live their best lives. Sure, their paths are different, but they are both confident, kind, caring adults. We couldn’t ask for more.

The Big Day, Part 2

We survived graduation, believe it or not. It was a whirlwind weekend packed with celebration. I had a momentary “oh shit” moment when the music began to fill the stadium and I watched her walk in, head held high, smile beaming. But I managed to pull myself together and just soak it in and bask in her accomplishment. Our group of well-wishers included family and friends from near and far, and we celebrated as only we Italians can….with wine and pasta.

Our girl graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Communicative Disorders and is going on to pursue her Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis. When all is said and done, she’ll have the fancy letters B.C.B.A. after her name and will spend her life helping/encouraging/supporting those with autism. Pretty cool, huh?

I won’t share pictures of her because I try to protect her privacy. I will share a photo of her graduation cap, which will tell her story far better than I will ever be able to.

Congratulations, sweet girl. We are so very, very proud of you. May you always soar as you were meant to: effortlessly.

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