Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Senior Year - Introduction Part Two

As mentioned yesterday, my good friend Rebekah & I are doing a project called The Senior Year. Which will be a documentation of our birthday twin daughters Madison & Jina's "last year at home". It's totally for selfish coping reasons but we hope that it will encourage fellow moms who will also be experiencing this milestone to take it all in stride and squeeze every bit of bittersweetness out of it.
Being born 20 minutes later, hence the younger birthday twin this is the conclusion of the introduction - Jina.

The past few months Rebekah & I have been commiserating together over mail from colleges addressed to the girls.  Somehow that mail initiated a wave of emotion. This is it. We're in the home stretch, the goal is in sight.

17 is the great in between. Last year it was the driver's license and car. Next year will be graduation & "adulthood".
Ironically Jina often tosses a mini dialogue from a Gilmore Girls episode out at me:

Rory: "There wasn't really a point you know because I get it, he is starting his first real job. I mean, he needs time to adjust and focus and learn the lay of the land. I mean its good that he's trying to be a grown-up. You know, so now I'm trying to be a grown-up. So why am I gonna get all pouty because I don't get to do it?"
Lorelai: "Hmm. Well, that sounds like a real grown-up talking."
Rory: "Thank you."
Lorelai: "You know the one thing that grown-ups don't call themselves?"
Rory: "What?"
Lorelai: "Grown-ups.  They say, "adults," and they pronounce it "ah-dults."
Rory: "It stinks!"

She quotes it because I call myself a "grown up" but oddly enough that quote is relevant to this post.
I mean I get it, Jina is getting older. She needs to focus and learn the lay of the land.
It is supposed to be this way and I shouldn't get all pouty about it.

This is my mantra for this year.

I do consider myself lucky in the sense that she doesn't want to go to an out of state college. She loves the state she was born and raised in. She is hoping to attend a college I once roamed about 3 hours away from where we live now. There she will become the most attractive accountant that has ever existed.
I was bragging to a friend about how she wants to stay in state just last week as he was recommending a good car to get her to replace the aging one she has now. He recommended a car that I thought would be bad on gas mileage, when I replied with that and also suggesting that she'll come home to see me often he had the nerve to say, "She's not going to come down and see you every weekend."
I wanted to reach through the phone and punch him for saying such blasphemy!
What does he know?!?! 
Instead I replied, "Yeah, you're right."

Any parent can imagine how crushing it is to know that their daily "reign" is drawing to a close. I will no longer be the daily authority, she will be her own self government. I know that she & I will forever be close but to remove her from my regular daily life will be very hard.  I already cry thinking about emptiness that will come from her inevitable departure. I joke that her room will become my new office but I know in reality it will be sort of a shrine to her.  It will be a museum of her old toys and clothes, scribbles on the wall, old school projects and other things that will illuminate the memory of the little girl that once lived in it. It will become just her room at her mom's house.
I've always known what the term empty nest means but I didn't realize that it would arrive so soon for me. I do have three other children but I am at the cusp of learning whether or not it will become easier with each child that leaves or will it get harder. I'm sensing that the latter is true. I know I sound a touch tragic but when she leaves it starts a snowball effect, my kids are only a couple years apart. I am bracing myself for one of life's roller-coaster rides.
Jina & Thea 2011
Being the oldest child she has had inherited privileges and responsibilities which have prepared her to stand alone on her own. Cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, I'm confident that she can handle all of that. She has even enough foresight to have already asked me to write down in a book a collection of recipes I make to take with her. TO TAKE WITH HER.......? 
She talks so calmly about her goals and intentions as if she had this all planned out for a decade. Maybe she has. The only comment of concern I've heard from her is how one accumulates all the things needed for an apartment. Crock pot, couch, towels, etc. All valid concerns of course. But isn't she sad about the idea of not seeing me daily? Isn't she worried about how I feel, as selfish as that sounds?

I worry that I'm going to get a speeding ticket the first time she calls me and needs me there.
I worry about her being out late with friends and having to pass by unsavory people.
I worry that she's going to work too much to pay for school.
I worry because I'm her mother and I'll be worrying about her when I'm 87. 
To answer my own question, no she isn't.
Its not that I'm not relevant enough or not close enough to her. Its just her eyes are fixed on the home stretch too. The goal is in sight and she's ready to receive her prize.  (This is how my dad felt 19 years ago.)

2011 Jina texting backstage at a benefit fashion show.
She is just days away from her school's Step Up day. The junior class symbolically steps up to the senior class as the current senior class graduates and says good bye. Things are getting real.
I feel like the school year just began, where did the time go?

As they say in business "The only nonrenewable commodity- is time."
So true that is. I feel like the past 17 years has just flown by with my best friend and constant companion since I was 18. My very special gift that I have completely given my all to, who made my heart grow 3 sizes the day she was born, my Sweet Child O' Mine.

-Thea Starr


  1. "...a museum of her old toys and clothes, scribbles on the wall, old school projects and other things that will illuminate the memory of the little girl that once lived in it. It will become just her room at her mom's house." Insert tears!!! So sweet. So heartfelt. Isaiah is only 10 and I am already freaking out.

    1. @Jenny - Girl it just intensifies with each year. Wait someday Isaiah will get college mailers...