Country music superstar Kenny Chesney sings a song in which a 100-year-old man, when asked for advice about how he has lived to such a ripe old age offers, “Don’t Blink” as his piece of sage wisdom. I can attest to the accuracy of his advice. Wasn’t it just yesterday when I was shedding tears as the eldest of my children, Jaime Elizabeth, slung her backpack over her shoulders and waved bye-bye on her way to “big girl” kindergarten. This May, she will be graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in Journalism and seeking her fame and fortune in the “real world.” She has blossomed into an amazing individual with hope, ambition, brilliance, grace, and poise; someone I am not only extremely proud of but someone I would choose to have as a friend even if we weren’t related. She is one of my favorite people in the world to laugh with, cry with, hang out with, travel with, exchange puns with, and seek advice from. As much as I have taught her, she has taught me at least as much. I feel so blessed to have her in my life and so lucky to have played a part in shaping this wonderful young woman.
But how – oh how – did this happen? Truly, it does seem as if I blinked and she was all grown up. While we parents are going through the trials and tribulations of our children’s growing up and longing for the countless sleep-deprived nights to end, when they are in fact drawing to a close, we are not overjoyed…we are actually sad. I can’t help but wonder where the days of tying bright red sneakers and cleaning chocolate-stained cheeks suddenly disappeared to. Memories of far too many all-nighters to assist in the completion of a social studies project gone awry, only to be zombie-like the next day at my own real-life job, fill my brain. But looking back on those times when she needed me for every life decision, ranging from the enormous to the seemingly inconsequential, makes me realize that the counsel I gave her (often without being asked for it!) has helped her grow into the individual she is today complete with her foibles and eccentricities that make her my unique, wonderful, crazy, kind-hearted, adorable, lovable baby daughter.
I am eagerly looking forward to what her future holds but for today, I have to thank my beautiful angel Jaime Elizabeth Sloane for making my dreams as a mother come true. And, I can only hope I blink far less often during my next 50+ years so I can witness every single amazing second of the incredible journey she is about to embark on.