Those words have gained a certain ubiquity in our culture, and we could argue all day over whether it's from Sunday School or The Byrds, and which is a better way of learning them. And, of course, they're very relatable. There IS a season for pretty much everything. There are the four seasons of the year, there are sports seasons, there's berry season, ski season, bow season, exam season.
And there are seasons of change. And that, too, has a purpose under heaven, even if it's sometimes hard to understand or accept.
We are in a very particular season of change at the moment, and one that I'm having a bit of a time grappling with. And, honestly, one that I've been in denial about for quite sometime. Just over 17 and a half years, as a matter of fact. It is, of course, graduation season.
One could certainly expect that I should not be blindsided by this. I'm on my fifth high-schooler. I live in a University town.
But this graduation season is different than the others. This one has my baby in it.
And while I know that she's a senior, and I know that she's 17, and I know that she's going to college, and I know that she's prepared and ready...
She's my baby. She will always be my baby.
Sure, in a sense my other kids are my babies, too. But there's something about the BABY.
Sunday, I went to her youth group's Senior Banquet. And I held it together, out of that same sense of denial. Because, you see, there's no WAY that she's leaving me. No way.
We build Legos together! We watch Star Wars movies together! She humors me, and explains the X-Men and Marvel franchises to me! She humors me when I play the "who did this song" game. Hell, she's even learned that John Bonham was Led Zeppelin's drummer, and why Ringo Starr is so hard for many to emulate, and that if I'm not singing the melody it's probably REM. She watches Skin Wars with me, and she's introduced me to Carmilla (on You Tube, not the Le Fanu book) and various emo bands, and taught me that if it's a building it's theater, but if it's the art, it's Theatre.
She can't leave me. Can she?
I held it together on Sunday. Sort of. I got teary-eyed when her friend Kieron's Dad talked about how much her friendship with Kieron has meant to him. But that was OK - I know she's a good kid, and I know what Kieron's friendship has meant to her.
And then others started talking. About how she pulls kids in from from the fringes. About how she has that rare talent of just being there. And then, as more and more adults talked about how much they would miss her, it hit me. She will, in fact, leave me.
But I was still kind of in denial. Because, she's not going to college in August, she's going next January. I have a whole 7 months before I have to deal with this, right?
Today was the Senior Assembly for her graduating class. I saw her in her graduation gown (not lying in rags at her feet, thankyouverymuchMrSpringsteen). I saw her march in to Pomp and Circumstance.
And, OMG, there's my baby. My little girl. Standing there with all these other seniors, thinking that they're just going to walk out of their parents' lives and go off and be college students. Young adults. Change the world. Who knows.
And, you know, they are.
I've commented before on the un-holy serendipity of Pandora. Well, for better or for worse, when I got home from the Senior Assembly, one of the first songs that hit my Pandora stream was Bowie's Changes. And a few songs later was Stevie Nicks' Landslide.
And, you know. both of those songs are apt.
Landslide has made me cry for ages. The stanza that gets me, always, is:
"Well, I've been afraid of changin',
Cause I've built my life around you.
But time makes you bolder,
Even children get older,
And I'm getting older, too."
Yeah. Not much there for parents to unpack, is there?
Well, my kids are getting older. And I'm getting older, too. And while I'm struggling with it, I do realize that it's the way of the world, and the way we all should be.
Bowie is a little different (yeah, understatement of the century)
"And these children that you spit on,
As they try to change their world
Are immune to your consultations;
They're quite aware of what they're going through"
Whether it's the kids from Parkland, or Santa Fe, or just the non-traumatized (yet, and please God, never let them be) kids from Carrboro High School here in North Carolina, our time is ending, fellow Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers.
And, frankly, I think that's a good thing.
No, I'm not ready to hang it up yet. I hope that my kids periodically still need me, whether it's to explain how to spatchcock a chicken, file their income taxes, pick a decent wine, or why you should pay more on an interest-bearing loan than the minimum.
Or, hell, just to baby sit.
But the baby-boomer's generation is leaving. And my generation is soon to follow.
The world, such as it is, belongs to our children. And they're going to be different than we are.
And that's OK. It's more than OK, it's good. It's the way of the world. It's fantastic, and a symbol that we, as a species, haven't given up yet.
So, my darling, my baby, my love, my Graciella, my Gracie-belle. God, how your mother loves you. And, Lord knows, I will miss you as you move forward into your life, and your time.
But this IS your time. You are quite aware of what you've gone through, and what you're going through. And while I have, in many ways, built my life around you (and your sibs), I'm trying really hard to not be afraid of change. I cannot wait to see what you and your generation make of this world that your parents and grand-parents have left you, and I have complete faith in you, and your generation, to move us all forward to a better place.