Monday, April 30, 2012

Senior Year - Introduction Part One

Sounds super serious from the title right? It is actually. Today begins the countdown of the "birthday twins'" last year before they take off to grab lives of their own.
The birthday twins are my dear friend Rebekah's daughter Madison and my own daughter Jina. Both girls were both born on May 30th, 1995. Madison is about 20 minutes older.
Starting today Rebekah and I are beginning The Senior Year project where we are going to document our experiences over the the next 12 months which is our eldest daughter's "last year" at home before college.

Since Madison has those 20 minutes ahead of Jina here's Rebekah's introduction.

1 more month.  1 more month until my first baby, my delightful child, turns 17 years old.  I find that culturally there is always a lot of hullabaloo surrounding “sweet 16” – you can drive, it’s a milestone and an expected celebration of maturity; 18 offers it’s own amazement to the masses, but I am finding the idea of 17 to be daunting, exciting, terrifying, amazing, depressing, and above all else, a wake up call.  The Beatles knew it too, in their song And I Saw her Standing There, “Well, she was just seventeen, you know what I mean.  Yes John and Paul, I think I DO know what you mean, and it scares me.


Though 17 offers the guarantee that my child will begin to prepare for her own future and start to make her own way on this spinning rock, it also marks the last year of our daily discussions.  Random babble about music, boys that she is interested in, boys that annoy her but keep texting her, art, literature, bad Facebook memes, crappy tv that she doesn’t have time to watch, and the general laughter we share on a daily basis. AND let’s be frank, it denotes the last year of my jurisdiction.

Have I done enough to prepare her for being on her own?  Can she buy her own food, stock her own shelves, and cook her own meals? Can she clean and do laundry?  Balance a “checkbook” (aka debit card register)?  Is she self disciplined enough to not go to a Circa Survive concert with her last $78.27 instead of buying food or gas for 2 weeks?  I am hoping that the answer to all of these things is yes, but really, didn’t we all learn a lot about life and what to do and not to do by experiencing our own failures and mistakes?  I think that requiring her to make dinner once a week for the last 2 years has been a good training ground for her, as was her assistance with my bizarre OCD-esque laundry requirements.  This last year I need to focus more on the bank account with her and have more discussions about weaning her off the $24 eyeliner she goes through every 3 weeks and the $28 shampoo.  She will need to ask herself if getting her eyebrows done at the Benefit brow bar every 6 weeks is something she can afford to keep up or if it’s more important to her to have enough money to pay her cell phone bill. Have I failed her by not making her begin her road down financial independence sooner?

Tonight said “baby” will be at a presentation for some East Coast schools…she and the Mr. are driving 2 hours to be in a meeting to “show demonstrated interest” in a school she has at the top of her wish list.  Next week she is touring the campus of a Southern California school her Uncle and Aunt are Alumni of; she’s interested in that one too.  I would love her to be more local, but her heart is set to roam free and leave California.  I have spent many, many, many moments focused on this, wanting to be a supportive mother that helps her daughter spread her wings and prepare for the world.  Part of me wants to crush her dreams before she has a chance to even apply there and tell her that even if she gets a merit based scholarship (and we all know how competitive those are) it’s too expensive to live so far away from your home base.  Is it time to play Kathy Bates and get my sledge hammer out in a Misery homage?  I could have the Mr. build an elaborate prison in the garage perhaps?  The interest letter from Westpoint, the constant stream of mailers from all over the U.S. this year have broken my heart at each postal mark….but I smile as I hand my daughter the postcards, letters, packets, and I swear one sent a fold out poster.

These are just the ramblings of a mother who knows that the sand from the hourglass is streaming faster.  The woman who watched Toy Story 3 audibly sobbing louder than anyone in the theatre when Andy’s mom looks around his newly emptied room and states, “Just…I wish I could always be with you”.  This right of passage she has worked so hard to earn is right around the corner.  It’s just on the horizon, that’s what 17 says to me.  And I get it.  I’ve never been the “clip your wings” type.  I love her with ever fiber of my being and want only the best for her.   But my heart is a little broken with the idea of her seat at the table being empty more often than not.  My baby who has been with me since I was a 19 (yes that IS a whole ‘nother Oprah), the one whom I poured every ounce of love I had to give (and even some I didn’t have to offer) into.  My toddler who would streak through the house nekkid after a tubby because she didn’t want to get dressed.  The only one of my children my mother was able to hold in her arms and sing to sleep before she died.  My child who was reading Dr Seuss to me before she was 3.  My child who knew she wanted to be a doctor when she was in kindergarten because of all of the time she spent in the hospital with asthma and pneumonia.   My adolescent who grew up a decade in just a day when her friend was murdered at school.  My teenager who respects herself and her body enough to not put herself in situations that could jeopardize her dreams.  My forever baby and first born is going to begin her journey.  I am so happy for her and I am so honored to have this last year to continue to help prepare her.

Rebekah & Madison
When I sat down to type this I promised myself I wouldn’t go to that super cheesy place – with the expected violins in the background and the Fiddler on the Roof tune.  But I can’t help it!  My heart aches with pride as well as sadness, “Is this the little girl carried?  Is this the little boy at play?  I don’t remember growing older, when did they?  When did she get to be a beauty? When did he grow to be so tall?  Wasn't it yesterday when they were small? Sunrise, Sunset…..”  

-Rebekah Norton


  1. Annnnnd...tears. So beautiful! I cannot believe those two beauties are on the cusp of 17. Much love to them, and to both of their amazing mamas.

    1. every mother should read this. i was directed here by thea's fb post, & (though now a grandma) am wiping away my own tears, recalling these same feelings as laurie left us for college 23 years ago! on that same day my Mr. went hiking in the mts, & i remained home alone with my thoughts. (not a plan i recommend!)anyway, thanks for BEAUTIFULLY describing what so many of us experience. wishing your daughter happiness & success!

    2. Thank you Nora & Cheryl! This will be a very interesting year for us. And Cheryl I definitely will try my best to not remain alone at home in my thoughts. I can see that potentially being a disaster. :)

      Thanks so much for the comments!

  2. So many tears... What a lovely read.

  3. Very touching-yes I'm crying... And it brought me back to that time of my life and reminded me how thrilled I was to get out into the world. It also makes me wonder if my parents had some of these same feelings/thoughts. They never said much but I imagine they did.
    Best of luck and fortune to Madison. I'm excited for you.

    1. Definitely does make you wonder about your own parents...
      Thanks so much for the comment!