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Milestones and Proud Mamas

Today my daughter, Sara, graduates from college.
This milestone brings to mind so many memories…

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  • When I took her to orientation day at preschool to meet her teacher and classmates, she walked away from me to interact with the other children. She kept looking back at me, surely needing reassurance that I was still there. Then she walked up to me and said, “Mom, it’s time for you to go home now!” I pointed out that parents had to stay. “Why? I’m fine. Just go home and pick me up later.” I told her I couldn’t leave, but I tried to fade out of her sight to help her enjoy her independence. So much for her needing my reassurance.
  • After her first day of kindergarten, I met her at the bus stop, and asked about her day. “It wasn’t anything like I thought it would be,” she said. “I thought I would just sit at a desk and learn, but all we did was play!”
  • When we went to New York City for the first time, Sara was about six years old, and took on the job of calling all our cabs. We couldn’t believe this little blonde child standing on the corner of those busy streets waving down cabs and directing us around the city.
  • When she was in elementary school, she used to slip notes under my bedroom door or put them on my pillow that said, “Mom, this is my schedule for the week.” She had detailed weekly agendas with all her activities and plans neatly written on notebook paper.
  • When she was 10, we sent her to Utah to stay with her grandparents. She sat down and planned out her entire itinerary. She planned to go to the northern end of the state to the small town of Syracuse first to be with Doug’s family, then she would go to my hometown of Springville about two hours away to be with my family. “How will you get from one place to another?” We asked. “I’ll call a cab,” she said. We had to teach her about the small towns of Utah and the lack of available cabs on the rural roads. But, she developed an alternative plan, stoically got on the plane without hesitation, and took off for her first journey alone. Annie and I stood at the gate and cried, amazed at her confidence and poise.
  • We went with Doug’s sister’s family and his parents on a Disney Cruise when Sara was about 11. When we got home, I put all our photos in a scrapbook and asked everyone to write their favorite part of the trip to put in the book.  Sara wrote, “My favorite part of the trip was having my own room key and being able to go all over the ship with my cousins.”
  • When I dropped her off at her college dorm for the first time, I wondered if she might get a little emotional. True to form, she hopped out of the car and off she went. We’d spent several days together before that so there was no need for a big goodbye. I watched her walk into the dorm and felt torn between wanting to sob that my baby girl would be living thousands of miles away from me and feeling overjoyed that she was so well-prepared for her new college life.

I’ve watched her apply these strokes of independence to her life as a college student — detailed day planners and calendars, keys to her own apartment and her own car, sitting at a desk learning, organizing a study abroad to London and traveling throughout Europe. Just like she led us around New York City, she escorted us around the streets and the underground of London. She’s boarded planes, buses, trains, subways, boats, and bikes, and loved every minute of it. She’s made lifelong friends, had her heart and mind stretched in every way, and received an education far beyond what shows up on her diploma.

Now, today, I get to watch her in her blue cap and gown as she marches into the commencement exercises at the Marriott Center with all that knowledge, experience, growth, maturity, and beauty under that cap. And, I get to say, “That’s my girl — the smart, striking blonde in the high heels wearing that pink lipstick. Yeah, that one, she’s mine.”

These milestones are more for the parents than the students anyway, right?

We need our moments to marvel, and say, “See that one, she’s mine!”

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Congratulations Sara!

 

Friends

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I’m in Arizona for Sara’s roommate, Julie’s wedding.  Julie has been like part of our family for the last four years.

She is the roommate you pray for when you want your daughter to be happy in her new college life.

One afternoon when I was visiting them during their sophomore year, Julie asked Sara about her day.  Then she said, “Come and sit down and tell me all about it.” She scooted over on the couch to make room for Sara and I, then crossed her brown Arizona legs and got comfortable, facing both of us, ready to listen, really listen to Sara tell her about her day.

That was the moment I fell in love with her.  I knew Sara had a generous, open, kind, and loyal friend, and that their friendship would not end at graduation when they went their separate ways to create their individual lives.

When they both applied for the London Study Abroad program, her Mom and I worried about what would happen if one got in and the other one didn’t.  How could we have half of this perfect pair schlepping to class during a cold Utah winter while the other one discovered Cath Kidston, visited the Tower of London, and watched London roll out the red carpet for a royal wedding?

 

Luckily they were both accepted and made their jolly trip to London together.  They attended prep classes on campus before they went, and walked in separately so they wouldn’t tip of f the other students that they were best friends.  This was their way of branching out. Then they met outside and came together like two magnets again.

They both flew to London from different places but met at the airport and rode together to their new home on Palace Court. They lived off cupcakes, crepes, and European chocolate; rode bikes in Hyde Park and had tea in Kensington Palace.  They celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, and fell asleep on each other on every sightseeing bus trip.

When Doug and I went to London at the end of their semester to take advantage of them as our experienced tour guides, they were sad to leave Palace Court but when we took them to our hotel, they were giddy with excitement about sleeping in what they saw as fancy luxurious beds after sleeping on student bunk beds all semester.

We toured Italy with them and laughed at their goals of having gelato every single day and taking pictures of all their meals.

When we arrived early to help get ready for Julie’s wedding reception, Julie wasn’t in her wedding dress yet. Sara and Julie looked at each other and tears filled up in their eyes, and they grabbed each other in a tight hug.

“Do you want to help me get dressed in my wedding gown?” Julie asked.

“Of course!” Sara said, and they walked off together.

I couldn’t keep the tears from filling my eyes either as the two of them walked away.

Even though Julie’s got a new best friend and roommate, Sara and Julie’s sweet friendship will not fade away.  They have too many memories from their freshman dorm life to their dreamlike semester abroad.  They have helped each other through homesick moments, broken hearts and boyfriends, homework, finals, and studying stress, and a million other moments known only to the two of them.

As Julie climbed into her husband’s jeep with “just married” scrawled on the window, I watched Sara and the other guests send them off in with sparklers lighting up the night sky.   Sara and the other bridesmaids spelled out L-O-V-E with their sparklers. Just then, Julie turned around, smiled and waved at Sara, and I knew that another one of those priceless girlfriend moments had transpired.

 

I am so grateful for my daughters’ friends.  They are there for them when I can’t be.  They are the shoulders they cry on when they can’t cry on mine. They are the ones they confide in about all the things they can’t comfortably tell me.  They are the ones who keep them going in their day-to-day lives because they share a girlfriend bond that is different from a mother-daughter bond.

Congratulations Julie, and thank you for being Sara’s true friend, for lifting her up, cheering her on, and consistently loving her.  Thank you for being there for me because when God gives daughters good friends, he gives mothers peace of mind and solace, and to a mother, that is the greatest gift ever.