Before we get to this week’s Field Notes, just a quick head's up for American Kindle users: my book, "A Rhythm of Prayer" is on sale for $4.99 at the moment for you. No clue for how long it will last but if you've been wanting the Kindle version on the cheap, now’s the time. - S.
We recently attended a university fair for our eldest daughter, Anne. She’s in grade 11 and so we’re deep into those discussions about The Future, diploma exams, weighing the benefits of various universities, living at home vs. in residence, majors and minors, all of the things. As is custom, her high school gathered all the usual suspects of secondary education for kids from this area and the recruiters set up their tables and standing-posters, fanned out the brochures on their creased tablecloths and stood ready to answer questions of curious high schoolers and their parents.
As we stood in the line to talk to the recruiters from the University of Calgary, I turned to look at Anne - okay, fine, to look up at Anne, she’s six feet tall - and I was struck anew by how grown-up she had become. She is so confident and poised, content to hold her own counsel, in a way that I couldn’t have fathomed myself at her age. She knows who she is and embodies that goodness without apology. She hopes to be in sports medicine of some sort right now, a natural path perhaps for a varsity athlete like herself with a lifelong love of science.
In that moment, I could hardly believe that we were here, in her actual high school, talking about the best university option for kinesiology and potential alternates for grad school hopes.
And unbidden, the thought came to me: “I guess that was it. I guess that was your childhood.”
Those were the nights spent rocking her to sleep and nursing her until she was milk-drunk and buttery. Those were the long walks in the park and learning about birds and trees. Those were the books we read aloud and the dress up play clothes, the bike rides and the chalk art, the report cards and sleepovers and jam muffins on Saturday mornings with her doll, Jane, in her arms. That was the life-size poster of the human body on her wall when the other kids had posters of Justin Bieber up, all so she could memorize all the functions and parts of the body for herself. Those were her pixie hair cuts and first tooth poking through and her little Blankie pressed to her face while she slept under my watchful eye.
All at once, it seemed like she was every age she had ever been, was right in front of me, like the book of her life was laid out before me but for the first time, I noticed one very important chapter was ending.
She’s a beautiful young woman, at the cusp of beginning so much new growth and change. She’s ready, I know that.
I’ve promised myself that I will make this experience of ending and beginning something good for her, at least as much as it lies in my power. I want her to know that we rejoice in every new stage and new learning, that she is the main event here and we’ll never hold her back from every new page ahead of her. I’ve never wanted to be the mum that kept her kids frozen in time, never letting them grow and evolve into their own people apart from me. But that’s easier said than done, isn’t it?
She’s growing into the sturdy independence and wise agency I always wanted for her - and sometimes when you get what you want, you realise that it’s bittersweet, too.