She graduated from high school on Friday and turned 18 on Saturday, then on Sunday spirited me out for a surprise Mother’s Day lunch at Piccadilly because she knew it was where my mother and I always went. She’s my baby-girl-become-woman, my soul friend who knows what my heartbeat sounds like from the inside.

I said goodbye to 25 years of homeschooling and 32 years of parenting children and turned hopeful eyes toward the years ahead as a mother of five adults. I am sad, and I am excited, and I am wistful.

Mostly, I am grateful.

Milestones are like that, if we can briefly sidestep the chaos and cacophony to be thankful for the beauty and meaning of the moment.

Friday I rushed around picking up the last of the party goods and made a rare purchase: a new blouse for me to wear to her ceremony. I smiled, recalling how often she has said things like, “Mom, buy it already! You never get anything new!” So I bought it already, and wore it happily. By evening I was running on pure adrenaline, grinning, snapping pictures like a madwoman, and cheering for my baby.

She crossed the stage like a supermodel in her shiny white cap and gown and pale pink tassel, never missing a step. Happiness was painted all over her face, surrounded by adoring family and friends and her sweetheart by her side. I thought my heart would burst.

I spent Saturday cooking while she and friends celebrated at the beach. I had asked for a list of her favorite foods, and I was determined to make sure I didn’t miss anything. My feet protested the extra work as I bounced from kitchen island to stove to sink and back again, but my heart was busy pondering it all while my hands kneaded dough and braided Stromboli.

Events like these give us perfect opportunities to think deeply and breathe gratitude, even among the noise and hard work and achy limbs. I whispered thanks for a million little things I kept recalling as I worked, frequently gazing across to the “18” she’d formed in photos on the front door and marveling at the growth of our sweet little baby who is now a beautiful young woman. I couldn’t have felt prouder.

Mother’s Day dawned with church and then my surprise Mother-Daughter lunch followed up by a stop at Barnes and Noble to browse books and sip Frappuccinos—two of my favorite things. The grandparents and the boys and their families joined us in the evening for the wildest game of Apples to Apples in family history. More moments to ponder in my heart.

Today I spend reliving it all through photos and recalled memories. We will talk often of these things in the days to come, thanking God for such a wonderful whirlwind weekend. My body is sore but my heart is full, and I struggle to word this gratitude I feel.

I pray this same grateful, hopeful joy for you.


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A Write Where It Hurts Column Post


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