From the Publisher - June 2016
“All changes, even the most longed for,
have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”
By the time you read this, my baby girl will have graduated from high school—a bittersweet phase of life for both of us. On her last day of school, she came home weepy. I thought it insightful, as she explained through tears, that she will never be able to live life like this again. Her words, “Mom, the reality of the last day of school is a quick cure for senioritis.”
For me, reality has already set in. The fact that this smiling child, who I still see as my precious angel, will be leaving in a mere 10 weeks and life will never be the same. It’s a moment most mothers dread and are never truly prepared for—me included.
Four years ago, when my son went away to college, I was naïve in thinking that he would return for breaks and summers and all would resume as normal. That didn’t happen. He came home the first summer, but it was never the same—not for him or us. The fact is graduating high school is the final chapter of childhood.
It amazes me how fast time goes by, and how years have a tendency to just slip away. All parents are told, when their children are young, “Enjoy it while you can. It will fly by.” No one ever listens. We all get bogged down in the day-to-day minutia of baths, bedtimes, clean rooms, good grades and sports–lots of sports. We go here and there, do this and that and then one day, just like that…it’s over.
I know there are many new phases to come, which will bring new kinds of joy—college experiences, career paths, weddings, grandchildren. And, new phases are not just for the children. Dr. Margaret Rutherford says, “Your child’s life will be filled with fresh experiences. It’s good if yours is as well.”
I have many things planned that I am looking forward to: Being a book author, traveling, growing my businesses, hanging out in Palm Beach more, speaking engagements. But none of this will ever replace that bundle of energy, that I can hear coming as soon as she turns down our road because of the blaring music (like mother, like daughter), who gives me hugs everyday.
You are a precious child. When you were born they whisked you away to the NICU and didn’t give me a lot of hope. I was so scared you were going to leave me, but I got to take you home and it has been a joyous ride. I have told you hundreds of times you are a way better person than me because you are. I appreciate that you always come up with a few ways that I am better than you and say, “We’re both good.” But seriously Sweetheart, your heart is special. I have so much respect for you. Your willingness to forgive fully, apologize quickly and sincerely and see the good in just about everyone and everything is uncanny. I have always been amazed that someone filled with so much humor and silliness, can be so deep in observation and so mature in dealing with, empathizing with and understanding people. It is your gift and it will provide you with rich experiences and connections throughout your life.
I had always heard that having a teenage daughter was going to be rough. Although there have been things, you have brought a smile to my face every single day for the last 17 years and 10 months. I can’t tell you how much I will miss you walking through the door everyday and our times spent in the kitchen most nights laughing, dancing, being silly, helping each other and talking. I don’t think anyone else on this planet gets me like you do. I’m really glad we’re the same kind of weird.
I appreciate so much the respect you have shown me over the years, and the fact that you have never raised your voice to me, is just unheard of. You warned me when you were in the 5th grade. I will never forget it. You were standing in the doorway of your bedroom and said, “Mama, you know I am becoming a woman.” I smiled because it was just so darn cute and sincere. Well, Sweetie. You were right. You have become a woman and you are going make a powerful impact on this world. How fortunate we all are.
One of my favorite quotes is: “Here’s to a good woman: May we know them, May we be them. May we raise them.” I can’t take all the credit because, quite frankly, I believe you came into the world a notch ahead, but one thing I know for sure is: Jacie Elizabeth Millen, you are a good woman.
All my love,
This article is dedicated, with heartfelt understanding and compassion, to all the moms out there whose babies are, have or will ever graduate. We will be OK.