Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Last Semester

Tonight I am sitting here having just hugged my daughter goodbye so she can head back to Tuscaloosa for her final semester as a college student.  I could go on about how fast it has all flown by (it has), how exciting it must be to be a student at the University of Alabama in the Nick Saban Era with winning football teams less of a sacred hope and more of an absolute expectation.  Her Crimson Tide experience from 2008-12 has included an SEC Championship in 2009 and two National Championships (2009 and 2011) sandwiched between the loss of a pledge sister in the April 2011 tornado and two other sorority sisters in car accidents in a one year period.  The highest highs...the lowest lows.  Pretty much...life.

She has been in a wonderful sorority (Phi Mu), is friends with people I know only by name and football number, and she is getting out in the four years that we made her pinky swear she'd do.  When we dropped her off at Tutwiler Dorm with something like 934 of her soon-to-be BFFs on a day in August 2008 that was so incredibly hot that I was shocked that we didn't all fall out after waiting for one hour for an elevator to the 11th floor...I never dreamed time would move so quickly. 

That room in Tutwiler that she occupied was more of a cell than an actual room...but she and her sweet roommate worked on it until it resembled something that they felt was "cute" and tolerable.

Or something like that. 

I've been to three years of Rush in the Phi Mu house, moved her in and out of two apartments before insisting that she make her final move into the sorority house with her pledge sisters.  She loves it.  I pretty much knew she would.  Eventually.

And now she is on her way back to take four classes two days a week...and start beating the streets for a job that may prove to be difficult to find and oh so elusive...so that she is off of our payroll come May.

Okay, that part made me smile.  A little.  That "off our payroll" thing. 

I think the best things in life are with us for such a short time.  But time rolls on...and things change.  I even heard today that the parent company that makes Hostess Twinkies is filing for bankruptcy.  Not that I've personally purchased a Twinkie in years...but just knowing that they might one day be unavailable along with Concentrate cereal (Kellogg's) and any given nail polish or lipstick color that I ever get attached to...makes me a little sad somehow. 

Sometimes we see the passage of time as little ones grow from arm babies to toddlers to kindergarteners.  We see the kids that have hung out at our house head down the aisle.  We see the puppies that we finally get housebroken and stopped from tearing up the furniture getting a little white around the muzzle.  People retire...businesses consolidate...people move away. 

Or we see our baby girl load up her car and head back to school for her final semester of college.

One day, I suspect that she will look back and start missing things about here that she'll fondly remember on a quiet night when she is hating her job and wondering exactly when Mr. Wonderful is going to sweep her away somewhere fabulous.  Or at least somewhere tolerable.

I'm sure that she'll find that I'm not the control freak that she sometimes accuses me of being because I try to stop her from making some of the mistakes I did...cold.  It seems harsh, I'm sure...but I figure if I'm still here to write a bad review for something...that she might want to take that into consideration.  Fortunately, she listens about 90% of the time.  I am so blessed that she does.  I know this.

Someday, she will realize all of the sacrifices that it takes to get a child here, raised, and launched, and will let me hug her for as long as I want to....something that she doesn't really see the point of today.

She's like her Dad in that way, unfortunately.  But he's learned over the years to just let me hug him as long as I want and I'll eventually get enough and move on...and his life will be the better for it.  Or at least easier. 

But she also inherited his common sense and a sense of being a solid person.  She does what she says that she is going to do and she expects other people to do the same.  She doesn't play mind games because she's far too literal.  She knows her place in this world (valuable) and how amazing she is because her Dad, her family, and some of my dear, wonderful friends have filled her to the brim.  She knows what she should expect - no, demand - in someone who wants to win her heart (beginning with a great deal of effort...because if they aren't willing to do that...they'll never survive a marriage.)  She is indecisive (a gift from my mother along with great beauty) and sometimes it takes her a few minutes to figure out if you are kidding or not (which comes across as being "blonde" sometimes...but it really isn't).  And yes, she can take it if you are...her PawPaw, uncles and cousins have teased each other so much that she's not even remotely thin-skinned.  She is organized, sweet, thoughtful...and she's a planner. 

Boy, is she ever.

Which brings us back to the point where we are right now.  She's headed off for the last semester...and for the first time neither of us really has any idea what God has in store for her.  When she was leaving high school...it was a matter of "which" college...which was easily decided.  Now, there is more than what to do...it is where to live...what to pursue...and a whole host of other unanswered questions.  She is going to have to make decisions and choices...and may even have to develop skill sets in negotiating and sales...just to put that marketing major she's working toward to good use.

But I've realized that what she does after this semester may or may not involve me.  Perhaps she will seek my counsel...or maybe she want to figure it all out on her own.  Maybe she will make plans to move somewhere far away doing something that makes her heart sing.  It could be that God will bring Mr. Right to her and he will help her make some of the choices.  I honestly don't know...and I'm okay with that.

What I do know is that I trust her to make good decisions.

I have to, you know.  She's almost 22...and I honestly don't want her living in my basement after graduation.  Primarily because we don't have a basement.

Those of you with little people still at home...hug them tonight...even if they don't really want you to...and don't worry about their show of disdain.  It's all pretty much an act anyway.  If you are doing your 32nd load of laundry and feel like nobody cares if you are drawing breath...don't worry about that.  God knows.  He really does.  Just know that it all goes so very, very quickly.  I was just counting down the sixty weeks until she graduated from high school...then she did...and four more years have flown by. 

Flown.  By.

Time changes things...and we can focus on that unknown bend in the road, or we can trust that God is already there preparing a place.  It is my hope that she will graduate this May with some inkling of what is ahead of her...but it is possible that she may not.  And that's okay... it really is.  She'll figure it out.  Eventually.

After all, she's her mother's daughter, too.  

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