Who would have thought that gorgeous young woman was once this charming youngster?
Well, actually, I would have. (Full disclosure--that top picture was taken by a photographer looking to build her portfolio.) While DD is definitely gorgeous, that top photo isn't really her personality. This one is more like it...
Anyway, she graduated from high school on June 25, and so far...no blog post. I tried to explain to her that I'd been on vacation, and that I did put pictures up on my Facebook page, but to no avail. She wants her own blog post! Well, okay...she deserves it, that's for sure! And this is a child who has had the will and determination to get what she wants, from day one, so far be it for me to deny her now!
There are many qualities I admire in DD. She is fierce in defending her beliefs and her loved ones. She is joyous and passionate. But what I am appreciating in her right now is this--she is helping me figure out how to do this being-a-parent-of-young-adults thing. (It helps that she is a remarkable young adult.)
The parenting experts say that at this stage, young people need autonomy but also connection. As a person who's worked with college students most of my career, I wholeheartedly agree. As a parent, I can say...that's a tough line to walk. How much autonomy? How much connection? When? Where? What if _________ (fill in the blank of whatever your biggest fear for your kid is)?
But it seems to come so easy for DD, which makes it come easy for me. The connection part is awesome. We have a ritual of going to the public market every Saturday morning. How many 18-year olds would get up at 8 am on a Saturday morning to hang out with their mom at a farmers' market? She has a summer job at the campus where I work, so we ride or bike together most days. When one or the other of us has been busy, and we haven't seen much of each other, she's as likely as I am to say, "We need to spend some time together." When she broke up with her boyfriend, she first went to her best friend's house, but then she came home to cry on my shoulder.
The autonomy part isn't so hard either. She's so conscientious and responsible that I don't worry (too much) about her hanging out with friends, using the car, and so on. But what I love about her is that she knows how to set boundaries, even with me. The subject came up of us being "friends" on Facebook. She firmly said, "There is nothing on my Facebook page that you don't know about. But there is friend space and family space, and that is friend space."
I wasn't sure how I felt about this, until I realized...that is her way of saying, "I am a separate person and I get to have my separate space that doesn't involve you." And you know, she's right.
Soon she will have a lot of separate space, and I will have a big adjustment. She will be at college, and I'll be going to the market on Saturdays by myself or with friends, which will be fine in its own way, but not the same.
But until then, I will enjoy hearing about her burgeoning skills and excitement at working with young people at her job, watching her play the trumpet with a local marching band, biking with her, and chatting about life over coffee and breakfast...not to mention her easy smile and laugh around the house.
And come September, I will take heart at knowing that she has what it takes to make it on her own. And also at the fact that we've already made plans to have regular phone calls via webcam.
Autonomy and connection, remember?