As I walked past the mirror and inspected the outfit I chose to wear that would transition from office to parent/teacher conferences this evening, I experienced a revelation: this evening marks the last parent/teacher conference for my youngest daughter. Ever.
Tonight will be the last time I sit down and formally discuss her progress for the year with her homeroom teacher. After this evening I will no longer have sanctioned input about her class schedule. For one last time, I will speak with an adult and offer feedback about her goals and interests. After this she alone will be entrusted with the task of navigating her way through the intricate and complex pathways that will help her reach her post-secondary education goals.
After tonight I will simply watch from a distance, offering small bits of objective advice or anecdotes drawn from personal experience designed to provide insight and, hopefully, guidance.
How did this happen so fast?
Wasn’t it just yesterday that I explained to the Mother’s Day Out director that my daughter had separation issues and might have a difficult time leaving me for two hours a week? And didn’t my mouth then drop in disbelief as I watched her race off to play with the Little Tykes cars that littered the expansive carpeted church fellowship area that housed the daily program designed to help toddlers adjust to school settings (and thus providing moms a few hours of much-needed respite from their kids’ endless energy)?
And wasn’t it just yesterday that the kindergarten teacher approached me at pick-up to tearfully tell me about her taking the class to the cafeteria for lunch and forgetting that Katie had gone to the bathroom just before they left? When they returned to the classroom she found Katie hiding behind an easel because she was scared to be left alone. The teacher’s distress was so sincere and so touching that all I could do was giggle and reassure her that all was okay - Katie would get over it, no problem. She did, of course, but she never forgot how it felt to be left behind - a lesson that will shape her own behavior toward others for many years to come.
I’m sure it was just yesterday when she discovered Student Council and the leadership lessons that accompany community service in middle school. Not to mention her research on Title IX that formed the basis for the feminist ideals she holds close to her heart - taking them out to wave around with pride whenever someone challenges equality and women’s rights (I’d like to say I feel sorry for such people but, nah. If you’re a misogynist then I cannot - and will not - help you in the face of the wrath of the Red Head).
Come on, I KNOW it was just yesterday that she walked onto a high school campus as a freshman, eager to enjoy high school life to its fullest. Football games to watch. Volleyball and basketball games to play. Dances to attend. Homecoming attendants to promote (sometimes others, sometimes herself). Boys to date. Parties and bonfires and sleepovers to help foster closer friendships. Classes to challenge and expand her knowledge and way of thinking. Tests to take, papers to write, and novels to read. Relationship issues to tackle. Newfound independence.
It WAS yesterday - and a lifetime ago.
A life well-lived, filled with love and support and encouragement and, sometimes, a little disappointment and frustration. But a life full of, well, living.
And after tonight I will begin the process of preparing her for that next step in life: college.
But for tonight I will relish the present and celebrate all the accomplishments she has achieved thus far.
I will provide that one last bit of advice allowed as the mother of a rising high school senior and enjoy the last year and a half she will call our house her home before embarking on the journey that will help her achieve her career goals.
Because tomorrow I will wake up and remember yesterday when I attended my last parent/teacher conference on her behalf.