Our youngest, our 17-year-old daughter, is a senior in high school. And much like her older brother, who moved off to college a few years earlier, she is planning to follow the still fresh footprints leading out the front door. With a heavy sense of certitude, the cutting of the parental 24-hour tether is fast approaching in our home.
Not that we are sad. Actually, we are very proud she is stepping forward in life, finding her way under a roof of her making. She’s earned this opportunity with her maturity and good decision-making skills.
What feels odd is the look my wife and I share when we both recognize we are experiencing a moment with our daughter for possibly the last time. Suddenly, from our perspective, there are very few tomorrows.
Like most everyone, I’ve tried to navigate balancing family life and a career. When events came up with the kids, my wife and I always worked to figure out a way for me to attend as many opportunities as possible. And when I couldn’t, my wife understood and moved onto plan B and we made the best of the situation.
But now things are different. In the past I could always rationalize with myself by saying “well, you can make the meeting next year,” or “if I leave at 5 I’ll get there a bit late and won’t miss too much.”
This year, as our daughter heads down the homestretch of her time under our roof, each moment or opportunity carries a bit more finality.
“So are you excited about becoming empty nesters?” we are asked with increasing regularity.
Well, to be honest, we’re sure this next stage will a bit of an adjustment.
As events related to our daughter continue to present themselves, my wife and I find ourselves digging in our heels, making sure we capture each and every opportunity. My wife puts off a project here, I miss a meeting there, but in the end, we are working together to make sure we have our daughter’s homestretch year in the forefronts of our minds (and calendar).
And in an interesting turn, this is simplifying our lives.
The other day I noticed an all-day meeting on my calendar on the same day my daughter is participating in a mid-day parade for her senior year. Not too long ago I would find myself running an equation of balancing out what needed to get done and if there were any similar opportunities in the future.
But this year, the formula does not include any cumbersome algebraic computations or pesky variables to weigh against each other. No, as our daughter heads down the homestretch, my wife and I know — with absolute certainty – there is no more important place in the world for us to be than standing along the figurative final straightaway as our daughter races toward the finish line.
Woolsey is publisher of the Times-Georgian.