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On the evening before your high school graduation, I sit here in a moment of panic. My beautiful baby girl is off to face the world. So full of hope – and so young. Just barely seventeen, she will be facing the wolves come the fall: fraternity boys, navigating a big city and college town, starting her life. I am so proud.
And so scared.
I think back to so many of our conversations; the teachable moments. Did I say enough? Did I explain things clearly? Did I cover every single possibility? Did I prepare you enough for this harsh, ugly world?
And did you hear me?
I know. I am old. I am no longer hip or fun. I had to UrbanDictionary “twerking.” Note to other parents: do not UrbanDictionary “twerking.”
Old though I may be, even uncool, I once was young and awesome. I know what you young people do. And I used to do it, too.
But times were different then.
Back then I was the young, naive girl leaving home. I left home with wild abandon, in a blaze of glory, sure that I was wiser than my parents. So, yeah, I know. I remember those feelings of invincibility and youth.
With that in mind, there are things I need you to hear. Again. A hundred times again. Stop rolling your eyes and listen:
Always have a backup. From job opportunities, to saving your thesis, to getting home when your date thinks you owe him more for dinner than you are willing to give. Before you jump head first, think about your backup plan. Where is the emergency exit? You just may need it.
Respect yourself enough so that the person you are dating knows you will not settle for less than the utmost respect from him. Do not allow someone to treat you like you are beneath them, neither friend, professor or date. Treat others like you want to be treated.
Be the change you wish to see. Pick a side and stand up. Let your voice be heard. From equal pay to gay rights, fair trade to disability rights: fight for right.
Well-behaved women seldom make history.
Sleep is for the weak.
Never, ever leave your drink unattended at the bar. Always get a fresh one after using the bathroom. Just because you think someone is your friend, it doesn’t mean they are. Think safe.
Call your mother.
You will never be without a soft place to land. Ever.
I promise you this, Alex, no one will ever, and I mean EVER, love you like your mom. EVER.
For seventeen years you have been mine. Don’t expect this transition to be easy or smooth. There will be growing pains for both of us. But, I love you. Always.
Fly off, now, to conquer the world. You cannot know how proud I am of you or how much you mean to me.
Go. Do great things.
Kelly is a Navy wife and mother to three children; 17 year old NT, 6 and 5 year old boys on the spectrum; and, since life was getting a touch boring, she’s added a three-month old. Kelly has been featured in a collection of essays on special needs children entitled, “Wit and Wisdom From the Parents of Special Needs Children.” She can also be found at MyTidewaterMoms.com, and as a guest blogger throughout the blog-iverse. In her spare time, Kelly is the Blog Master for, and member of, the Military Special Needs Network Executive Board. You can contact her via email at email@example.com.
Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
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I can’t tell you how much I love this post, Kelly! The only question is how do I save it so that I can give it my own daughter in 13 years?
Oh, Kelly, my friend. You are so wise and loving. Your daughter may not have heard everything the first few times, but I’m pretty sure she heard the most important which is that she will always have a soft place to land. With that, everyone else can be handled. Congrats on raising a smart and accomplished young woman who will undoubtedly take the world by storm.
Such good advice, obviously given with so much love. Congratulations to your daughter!
Beautiful. I needed these reminders, too.
Perfect! I’m just headed into that senior year stretch – college apps, scholarship apps, auditions, all of it. Thank you for the list because I’ll be needing it sooner than I want to be I know.