Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wave Goodbye

I have several photographs in my office of my daughter. One on the wall next to my desk, a couple on the filing cabinet beside my computer, and one on my window sill. Each captures a decidedly younger version of my girl. As I look at each one, I find it so easy to let my mind drift back to those frozen moments and remember how our relationship used to be. In those days I was at the center of her world, the first person that she looked to when she had something to share or had a concern of any kind. However, today, although she is still a teenager, she is no longer a child and certainly does not want to be remembered or treated as such. She has developed her own life with many other connections, and it is one in which I play an ever decreasing role, where I have been relegated out into the fringes. This transition is perfectly natural. In fact, it is an important responsibility for each parent to raise their children to be independent and to teach them how to be self-sufficient. But I have struggled so much with each step of this evolution because I have never been ready to say goodbye to those younger versions of my child.

There is a series of DVD releases that my daughter and I enjoyed when she was younger. A new chapter in the adventure was put out each year, and from the moment the release date was announced, we both eagerly looked forward to having our own special movie night together. The most recent release in this series was last summer, and my daughter surprised me at the time when she asked if we could get it. Even though she was too old for it, scheduling that movie night was special to me, likely because I knew that it would be our last. Over the past three or four years I have watched as, one by one, most of our father-daughter traditions have been set aside for good. While my daughter took no notice of any of this in her rush to grow up, I felt the loss of each and every one. But just because I know that I am supposed to let go, doesn't make the process any easier.

Just a month ago my daughter started her junior year in high school. I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone. Sometimes it seems like I could wake up any moment and I would be in her nursery, rocking her to sleep in my arms when she was a baby. For the past several years I have tortured myself performing mental computations of how much time I have before the clock ticks down to that inevitable moment of parting where she goes off on her own. It is in those moments that I ache the most. But I am determined that even as I wave goodbye to the past I will try my best to celebrate each new phase, and cling to the knowledge that my daughter is happy, that she has a bright future ahead of her, and that she knows she is loved.