About seven years ago, I started this blog. I can’t remember what the exact first entry was. Doesn’t matter. I remember, keenly, writing about my daughter’s first day of middle school. The sixth grader who sat in the back seat and whose reflection melded and melted into my own. I felt a deep rooted connection and a distance. She was growing up. She was outgrowing me.
Over the years of this blog (that I have not been sadly, faithfully keeping), my daughter was known as “The Girl.” It was the easiest pseudonym I could give her. She had her privacy. I had my ability to write about this young being growing up and fleeing all states of conformity being thrust at her. She defied the cookie cutters. She refused to embrace gender norms.
She is her own self, one whose reflection captures the confidence in her eyes, or the way she seems to stare down the world and keep her sense of who she is.
Tomorrow, my daughter flies to Madrid. She has finished her first semester of university and, already, she leaves my hemisphere, my time zone, my continent and flies across the ocean on her own to experience the world for herself.
In so many ways, I am thrilled for her. She is grasping at these opportunities with eagerness and determination. She can see the finite opportunities and doesn’t shy away from these moments. Instead, her hands are stretched out, her fingers crimped a little as she grabs at these wisps and clutches them to her chest. She has poured hours into her work to earn spending money, has directed her attention to what she can bring with her for these months abroad.
And then, I grieve. I will miss the ability that I had last semester. Bad day? I could be at her dorm in two hours and bring her home. Or bring her the dog so they can snuggle for a second before the dog finds an amazing smell and ignores my daughter. She was so close and I didn’t worry because a family friend was just down the road in case there was an emergency.
Now, my daughter will be staying in another country. At least seven or more hours of plane time if there’s an emergency.
And I won’t deny a stitch of jealousy for the host family who will care for her in these upcoming months.
But I keep opening my hands. And let her name just settle on my lips and keep my silence. It is time to release her. To step aside and enable her to chase these horizons. These opportunities. To see the world without a guide. To see the world without being at her side.
I wish I could join her. I wish for just a little bit of her precious time because I watched her grow up but now I want to continue to be acquainted to this remarkable woman.
My daughter is no longer “The Girl.” She is so much her very own self. With her own name. Her own identity. Her own shadow and reflection. She is developing a list of her own honors and recognitions as she brandishes her strength and courage. And I will stand here on my ledge and watch. And wait.
She is no Icharus. I challenge her to fly close to the sun. For the shadow she will cast will build compassion and peace and goodness.