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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

For everything there is a season

The years spent on a farm are marked by seasons rather than by specific dates. You count another year when you reach another lambing season, haying season or planting season. Sometimes we remember the year by how bad or good a particular season was—by how much rain or snow we got. How cold it was when the lambs were born.
Life, on the other hand, is measured by moments. I remember the night of my wedding rehearsal. The Farmer called me out onto the porch, away from the crowd of family and friends, so that he could tell me something privately. That is one of my treasured moments.
We are entering another season of our lives now, as our most recent graduate plans to move out of the farm. She wants to live in the city, on her own, until she figures out what she wants to study at university. She is still young—not yet eighteen—and feels she needs the extra time to figure out what her path will be. I know I shouldn’t worry about her, because she consistently makes very mature, wise decisions about her life, all on her own. But I worry anyway.
Friday was Paulina’s prom. It was the culmination of a month of prom dress, shoe and handbag shopping. She is grateful that I spent all that time and money driving her around and getting her fully kitted up for the event. I am grateful for the time we spent together, the moments she confided in me, and the laughs we shared.
On Friday, I watched as she did her makeup, stuck on false eyelashes and fingernails. All by herself. Normally she has at least one of her older sisters around to help with this ritual before a special event. They lock themselves in the bedroom with the radio blaring and all I can hear is the occasional burst of laughter. This time her sisters had to work, so Polly had to do everything herself. Well, knowing Polly, she would have done it all herself anyway. Her sisters would have just been there for company. This time she was stuck with me. I stood helpless and watched as she fussed with her hair, the nail glue, and those fringes of eyelashes. I offered advice that wasn’t taken, and encouragement that may not have been heard. I don’t think I helped much by being there, but I’m glad I was.
Teenagers may spend the bulk of their time locked in their room with the computer and the iPhone, but at least they are there. We get time together when we drive them to work and school, parties and shopping. Occasionally we share a few laughs. I’ve been lucky to have had so many of those memorable moments with my daughters. We have photos of some of these times spent together, so that they will never be forgotten.
This is the end of an era. I don’t have to nag Paulina about getting up for school or doing her homework anymore. I don’t have to remind her to do the laundry or the dishes. Our relationship will now evolve into one where we talk on the phone, she drops in for Sunday dinner and special family celebrations. She gets to make her own schedules now. It’s her life to do with what she wants. I’m very excited for her.
At the same time, there is a huge lump in my throat because I remember struggling to get her to sit down in that high chair, like it was only yesterday. I remember chasing her naked butt down the street when she escaped from me at bath time. I remember her kindergarten teacher calling home to tell me that my tiny four-year-old was a nervous little girl, and that perhaps I should send more snacks.
Somewhere along the way, that little girl became a very independent young woman. She doesn’t need any of us anymore. She will be just fine on her own.
I can’t take the credit for raising such a strong, intelligent and mature young woman. Paulina took a little bit from each person that she admired, and with the best parts of us she formed herself.
Paulina has always had a heart for the needy person in school or in the neighbourhood. I hope she never loses that. Maybe she will find a future that is more of a calling than a career.
All I want for her is health and happiness. And as our time together living under the same roof draws to an end, I wish I could travel back in time for just an afternoon, to the day when she asked me if I would play Barbies with her, and I was too busy doing something else. I have the time now, Paulina. Ask me again.

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