Life is about to change around here. My second child, my oldest daughter, is a high school Senior. She's picked out a beautiful college about four hours from here, Northwestern Louisiana State University. She likes the small size, the beautiful campus, apartment-style residence halls, historic town and being four hours away. When we visited colleges last summer, I liked the fact that they were the one that sounded most likely to give her a substantial scholarship offer (though since she qualifies for our state scholarship program, her tuition is already covered). Still, I'm going to miss her and I have to admit, some "what if's" are running through my mind. "What if" her brother was neurotypical? "What if" my late life surprise hadn't shown up? Every year more friends become empty (or at least semi-empty) nesters; one is even a grandparent, yet my nest will be full for many years to come.
Being this one's mother has always been fun, almost pure joy. Everyone likes her. She's academically and artistically gifted. She's even-tempered and has never pulled the emotional drama queen teen bit on us. While in some ways we've found it hard to believe she is THAT good, in other ways she's been our reward for all the effort we've had to put forth with her autistic brother, effort that often seems to go unrewarded. While my other two kids have always shown a marked preference for me, this is her Daddy's girl, but also one who likes everyone.
The Senior Year started with Ring Day in May. Around here, high school rings are a BIG thing. The Catholic schools all have special Ring Masses where the seniors are presented their rings; the public schools have adopted "Ring Ceremonies" where the parents are invited to watch the principal present the kids their rings. To my son, the highlight of that day was getting to leave early; for my daughter it was a special milestone to celebrate with parents and friends.
Our "Mother-Daughter Bonding Time" has changed; it used to be at 6:30 a.m. at the bus stop. This year however, the young man above (a neighbor, and as far as I know, just a friend) takes her to school most days; now "our" time is when we are actually awake--she is taking a dual enrollment class at the University of New Orleans and I pick her up there two nights a week. Next semester it sounds like she and a car-owning friend are going to pick the same class and my services will not be needed.
I'm proud of her. I'm excited for her. I'm going to miss her.