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Monday, December 10 , 2018, 10:33 am | Mostly Cloudy 55º

 
 
 
 

Marcia Meier: 18 Years Race By In the Blink of an Eye

As emotions and memories mix with hopes and fears, a mother reflects on her daughter's bright future

Men-children and women-children are scattered in sleeping bags on my living room floor this morning. Slumbering like lambs dreaming of the whole bright world. Oblivious to its whims and torrents. I have watched them all grow up since fourth grade, when my daughter entered a new school in a new neighborhood. Her teacher directed her to a seat next to a little auburn-haired girl, and those two have been inseparable ever since.

Marcia Meier
Marcia Meier

Now my daughter is headed off to San Francisco to study fine art and her best friend is going to a hair and fashion academy. I don’t worry about them drifting apart. How could they? They are connected electronically every waking moment, and sometimes even when they are half-awake. The text messages zing back and forth through the atmosphere; three thousand a month. Facebook is ever-present.

Still, I do worry about how they will navigate the world on their own. Who will remind my daughter to brush her teeth and deposit her checks? Who will tell her to eat when her blood sugar is low? Who will remind her, ad nauseam, that drinking and drug use are stupid and destructive? That, yes, she can finish that project on time (remember Anne Lamott’s bird by bird). And, yes, if you have to get up at 6 a.m. it’s advisable to go to bed before midnight.

She is in a dream state of after-graduation summertime, anticipating a month of art in Los Angeles, then home for only a few weeks before leaving for college. She is riding a wave of excitement and nostalgia and sometimes paralyzing fear.

I am doing the same in my own way. Ambivalent about letting her go. Proud of her accomplishments. Worried for her future. Sad to be letting her go off into an uncertain and sometimes very hostile world. I have protected her like a mama bear for 18 years. Now I’m supposed to just let the world have at her?

Oh, Lord, I hope I’ve prepared her, given her the right tools to cope. The ability to stand in the face of criticism and decide honestly if it’s justified. The courage to speak up when she sees something that’s not right. The discernment to stay quiet when she is wrong. The ability to accept life’s lessons without being destroyed by them. The moxie to keep going against all odds.

She’s going off to study fine art. Who makes a living making art these days? Why couldn’t she have stuck with wanting to be a judge? She loved Judge Judy when she was 10. Lawyers make enough money to take care of themselves (and many others).

But her gift is in canvases and oil paint and brushes and her imagination. I am a writer. I know the struggle of an artist. So I accept her into the fraternity of creative spirits and set my fears aside. She must step out on her own path now.

I feel like I did the day she took her first steps. Anxious as she wobbled, balancing there on the carpet with her arms spread wide. Holding my hands out to her as she picked up her foot and stepped forward with a jerk. Then another until she had taken several hesitant steps.

Before I knew it she was running down the beach with her friends, looking for sand crabs in the tide pools. Then pounding down the court with her basketball teammates. Then walking again, across the stage to receive her high school diploma.

Am I ready for her to begin her life away from home? No. Is she? Absolutely.

This is my prayer for her and all the slumbering teens on my living room floor. Live fiercely and wisely, sucking in all the good, accepting the undercurrents with equanimity and perspective. Grasp the whole of life with joy and anticipation. Know that someone is always there for you, watching from afar with support and encouragement. No matter what you do, you will always be loved and cherished.
The golden ring is yours for the taking.

Marcia Meier is an award-winning author, writing coach and proud mom of Kendall (Dos Pueblos High School Class of 2010). Her latest book, Navigating the Rough Waters of Today’s Publishing World, Critical Advice for Writers From Industry Insiders, has just been published by Quill Driver Books.

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