Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Seas of Change

I sat in the driver's seat, two hands on the steering wheel, one eye on the road, and one eye in the rear view mirror watching my 6-year old daughter  Melissa, whose non-stop tears fueled the overpowering ache in my broken heart.

As we drove onward down the road to change, the newly formed leaves on the trees served as a reminder that this right of passage had happened two months too soon.  Bidding a fond farewell to childhood classmates is a ritual that should take place in June....not April.

A bag full of sweets and home made cupcakes, remnants from the well-intentioned goodbye party, sat ignored on the seat next to Melissa, who clutched a small scrapbook filled with heart-felt notes and smiling faces of children I suspected she'd never see again.

Onward we drove, towards our new home, my new job, her new school....our new life.

I reassured Melissa we'd come back, we'd make plans, we'd visit....longing for her to believe my lies. For although the next chapter on our life journey was merely an hour to the south, new friendships would form and time would be scarce, making trips to our former home seem highly unlikely.

Sure enough, my husband Bob, Melissa and I settled in... and never looked back. Yet, more than a decade later, the pain of hearing my baby's sobs as she reluctantly said goodbye to her friends still echos in my heart.

Melissa's tears were a solemn reminder that my daughter does not like change.

The truth is..........neither do I.

When things are comfortable, and safe, and familiar  - I long for the stability that will keep change at bay.

I approach change as if standing on the deck of a rickety old boat lost in a squall.  The rollicking waves prevent me from standing up straight on equal footing, and I'm not quite sure if the seas will ever transition to the peaceful calm that defined my life before the storm.

Of course, the seas did eventually relent, however the calm that greeted my family came not from the familiarity I had left behind, but the wonderful new life that beckoned from a different shore.

Today, my daughter sits at the dining room table, diligently studying for a biology exam. High school will soon come to a close, and summer, with its promise of no homework for two full months, is almost within reach. Then it's off to college...and more change.

Much, much more change.

I often wonder, had I chosen not to accept the new job that took us on that tear-stained drive so long ago, would Melissa, now 18, be privileged to this life filled with family, friendship, and love?

Change can be full of wonder and delight, yet those concepts can be difficult to grasp while you are standing on deck, holding on for dear life. The seas are about to get restless again as move-in day at American University is less than four months away.

Over ten years ago, despite the sobs of a distraught six-year old, I made the decision to embrace the seas of change. And thanks to that decision, my baby is happy, well adjusted and far too willing to now embrace her own sea of change.

Even if I am not.

But I know, just as I knew over 10 years ago, that the storm clouds will fade, the seas will turn calm, and a new shore will beckon. A shore without my daughter by my side.

My daughter Melissa, 4th from left, is pictured with a group of friends during their senior class trip to Disney World.  Would she be so happy had I not embraced the seas of change over ten years ago?

*This story first appeared in April, 2013. It has been updated to reflect my new normal.

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