I'm not at all convinced that it's set in yet, the fact that my second child—my only daughter—has graduated from high school. From homeschooling.
The graduation ceremony was absolutely perfect. The church was filled nearly to capacity with 850 people there to cheer on our 26 graduates. I know.
It's an astounding show of love and support. While I don't know some of these kids well, half of these graduates are people who have a place in my heart—a really, really special and forever place. I have watched some of them grow since they were little bitty ones. These five even graduated from kindergarten together.
I love the way our co-op does graduation. It starts with a slide show put together by one of the graduates, with about a dozen pictures of each student featured.
Laurel is the daughter of Randy and Sarah Small. She has been homeschooled her whole life. Along with fellow graduates Clea, Bess, and Katriel, she was a charter member of American Heritage Girls Troop 131, which was started by their moms when they were in first grade. She is a 2014 recipient of the American Heritage Girls Stars and Stripes award, the highest award in AHG. She has been a member of BHEA’s student council for three years and is on Maryville Vineyard’s youth leadership team. She loves working with kids and serves in the kids’ ministry at the Vineyard. She has provided hundreds of hours of community service and has earned the Presidential Service Award several times. Some of Laurel’s interests include traveling, hiking, reading, cooking, nutrition, and hanging out with friends, especially at Vienna. She also really likes her cat. Laurel will be attending Lipscomb University in Nashville in the fall, where she plans to major in family relations with minors in psychology and nutrition. She hopes to pursue a career in family therapy.
After the ceremony, families and friends crowd into the reception area, where the students each have a table set up with pictures, awards, etc. I didn't make it around to take pictures of the tables, sadly, nor did I even make it around to see more than a few of the graduates.
My mother broke my heart a couple of times when she pulled on my arm and said, "You must do this for the little boys—you must be there for them. We won't be around when they graduate." She's referring to my brother's little boys, who are 3 and newborn. My parents are 88 and 90, and my mother's statement is heartbreakingly true. We are so very blessed to have them still. So very, very blessed.
|Dad, Mom, Jesse, Randy, Laurel, me, Duncan|
|Laurel with her Grandma, Randy's mom|
I don't feel like it's an ending. I know these kids will be in my life for a long time, largely because it isn't just about them, and it never has been just about them. We are family friends. We've spent countless times together through the years, sitting in living rooms with coffee or wine, catching up at co-op classes, chatting during field trips, calling each other with questions, carving pumpkins, camping out, hiking, playing, planning, conspiring, dreaming, crying, laughing. We've grown up together, both parents and kids.
Somehow I don't have that incredibly sad, lost, "done" feeling that I did when my firstborn graduated. I remember sobbing. Hot tears and an emptiness. It wasn't so much about my child graduating as a season of my life coming to an end—the season with three at home, the years of homeschooling. It was a beginning of the letting go.
And letting go gets easier. But somehow, also, I don't feel like I'm letting go with this one as much as with my son. All those pithy quotes about daughters: they're quite true.
"Daughters hold our hands for a little while but hold our hearts forever."
"A mother's treasure is her daughter."
"A daughter is a little girl who grows up to be a friend."
"A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future."
Maybe it all has to do with that Irish saying: "A son is a son 'til he takes him a wife; a daughter is a daughter all of her life."
Maybe. Maybe it has to do with knowing that she'll be going to college in the fall with her best friend, even though they swore they would never do that.
And her boyfriend and another best friend will be just 15 or 20 minutes away at different colleges in Nashville. I like to think about them all having pancakes together on a Saturday morning.
So much joy in those smiles, so much hope and happiness and excitement. Their roots are deep, and they're ready to go.
"The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."
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Lots of photo creds to Donna Williams Photography