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Graduation

I knew graduation was supposed to be a life event for my daughter—the graduate—but I hadn’t reckoned on it being a life event for me: me—the woman old enough to have a daughter graduating from college; my home—the default place to be; my picture of the world—oh it still might appear on the agenda occasionally if I’m clever, subtle, flexible.

I’m not looking for power and control, but intimacy and companionship. The best times I ever have are with my daughter. And yes, maybe I do need to broaden my horizons as well. I’ve held on—not out of desperation or fear—but out of mutual desire to be together and connect. No one wants to let go of that. But lives get full, busy, geographically distant. Even sound desires can get mixed up in wrong-headed expressions and vistas.

When I spend time with her we laugh and laugh. We comprehend sentences that are missing their direct objects, verbs, nouns, sometimes all-but-the inflection, all without hesitation. We look forward to our times together and we see one another as the most important person in each of our lives. Those two legs won’t always be joined up. Other eminences will enter, especially her life—as well they should. Mothers yield the stage to lovers, best-friends, husbands, and children. Hearts defy the rule of percentages. They can divide and divide into many 100’s, each full and feeling. But all of our days are bounded by the rule of twenty-four. The grown-up timepiece fields many faces.

I’ve been lucky to have this loving easy time: lucky to have it so long; lucky to notice it’s glister and hue while I’m chest deep in it. I was lucky at how the difficult times unwound into the better. I was lucky I recognized my own awful dilemmas in time and chose correctly.

Many of my parent-peers have already adjusted to less from their children. Some have hovered—soon the hovering will have outlived the student deferment. Parties and social swirl missed my daughter’s odd, ill high-school years. Off at college, who has to know? It’s an easier time for a parent. It’s seemed to me for quite some time, that timing was the only reasonable thing a parent could hope for in the realm of sheltering a child from the hailstorms of the culture. Not “I don’t want my child to have to learn how to deal with difficult things” but “could I hope to put some of them off until she more mature?”

Of course I only get to learn these lessons once—at least directly. One child, one shot at so many changes and ventures. More opportunity might mean I’d get it better the next time. Or maybe each time is so different the lessons of the last time fail. Maybe they’d just confuse or blind me through child two or three’s journey. Maybe I’d be too tired, or distracted and not “there” more of the time. And life demands and inserts itself: work, marriage, divorce, dating, illness, older parents—any one or two of which derail and consume.

I feel the current of transformation as I track the couch surfing, city-thinking, job-applying, follow-up, frustration, re-assessment and decision-making. I might be losing something but there’s probably a way to do it well. I can’t—I wouldn’t—avoid change. What do I want? Closeness and ease: simple goals not wrapped in too many facts; the hope I might dare have.