Has Anyone Seen My Gal?

She’s ’bout 5’7, eyes of blue but oh my what those five feet could do…has anyone seen my gal? My daughter’s taller than the original lyrics so the bouncy tune doesn’t work so well, but I was thinking of this song today as I listen to swing music on one of the satellite tv channels.

I usually try to keep these posts a little vague for maximum appeal but I’m going to write about my daughter. She leaves for college this week.

I am reminded of how she used to play hide and seek at our yellow house. Our front door was home base and from inside I could hear her counting and then she’d call out: “Ready or not, here I come!” Launching herself off the brick steps, she was off to seek.

The memory has such poignancy for me as she has reached her magic number and is ready to launch herself into the world- whether we’re ready or not.

She’s ready. She’s ready to seek and find. And I believe she is ready– she is intelligent but also smart (not always the same thing). She is funny. She is kind. And she is still just enough of a teenager to believe she knows it all and she can do it all. Such valor is important as you leave home, don’t you think? I mean, if we all knew then what we knew now- I’m not sure I would have let them promote me much past kindergarten. I’d still be there with white paste and colored paper, enjoying the tales of Dick, Jane and the dog, Skip.

And the world is ready for her. The world is more than ready. The world needs her. It needs her energy and drive to make it a better place. Her desire to help and beyond that- the willingness to  take action to help. It needs her sense of humor. It needs her values. It needs her artistry. It needs her loyalty. It needs her light.  It needs her capacity to love and find goodness without compromising what is true and right.

I’m not ready. I believe part of my job description as a parent is to raise a child ready to not only live in the world, but positively contribute. But as with other job descriptions, the real trick of the job is what lies in that vague phrase “other duties as assigned”. So, you raise a child to be independent and ready to seek and find…you don’t really get the part that means she is LEAVING. And I feel I have more to teach her.  I wanted to teach her she doesn’t have to be so tough. I wanted to teach her that work is only work, not life. I wanted to teach her to cook something for her college friends besides ramen. I’m just not ready.

And it’s not because the years passed so quickly. It does not feel like yesterday that she was a baby. It feels like it was 18 amazing years ago. The nurse put in her my arms with a little pink and white striped hat on her auburn peach fuzz and I looked down at her and said, “It’s so nice to meet you.” Parenting her has been the most awesome privilege of my life. So, it’s not the cliche that it all happened so fast.

I know I’ll still be her mom. And God willing, she knows I will always be home base for her. But it will be different. And I’m not sure I am ready to call this good different.

I have about four days left. Ready or not.