So she did it. Our youngest daughter graduated from high school. I’m mostly holding it together, thanks for asking.

As we all sat in the big auditorium and watched the children, all our children of our community, make their way across the stage, I thought of the million things we didn’t get to do over the last four years. I briefly considered asking for a recess in the ceremony so we could skip class to catch a movie together, or run out to have a pizza delivered as a surprise for the whole fourth period history class, or make paper mâché busts of English poets.

But time is maddeningly linear, and not particularly concerned with the wishes of moms and dads. So instead as parents, friends, and family we sat there, focusing on every foot fall on that stage, every name spoken in reverence, every jostle of a tassel. We willed all our energy and grace to those kids so no one would trip, no one would falter.

We knew from the beaming faces all around us that everyone was as proud of their student as we were of ours. We could see behind every careful step and trailing gown the bright wake of accomplishment. There in the wake were the stories of children who overcame the hundreds of things that lie in wait for young people. Cruelty. Paralyzing indecision. Terrible choices. Emotional highs and lows. Unreliable people. Yet here they all were. They made it to this new phase, moving with the confidence of the newly anointed, coming into their own, a talented cadre of young adults. As they each reached out for their diploma, they were reaching for far more than a padded cardboard sleeve. They were reaching for a future still not written.

Mireya has graduated at 16 years old. This is because I was so short sighted that I actually agreed that she should start high school early because she’d finished all her course work for middle school in one year. Because I didn’t see this day, couldn’t envision it, even though I knew darn well this is what would happen. I didn’t know what I was giving up — another year. But you can’t hold them back, can you? You can’t tie weights to their wings.

Honestly, I’m almost ready for this next stage of life. But almost ready like you’re almost ready to go down the big hill of a roller coaster. You stood in line, you picked your seat, you committed to the experience. Then, before you truly realize what’s happening, you’re strapped in and the train begins to move. And when you see the drop off approaching, about all you can do is close your eyes, throw your arms up, and scream.

No, I did not scream at the graduation and throw my arms up in the air.

Okay. Maybe a little. At the end.

Winter Prosapio is a writer, working mom and Corporate Director of Communications and Government Relations for Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts.

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