Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. ~ Dr. Seuss
Yesterday, my wife and I gave something precious to the United States Navy: our daughter. The goodbye was swift. The driver of her airport transfer van held the door open and our family surrounded Emily in the parking lot. I know my daughter. I could tell she was determined to hold it together. She wanted to make a clean getaway. If she could have, she would have blown a few kisses, dove into the van, and yelled to the driver, “Go! Go! Go!”
Instead, she gave quick, individual hugs to her grandpa, her grandma, her mom, her aunt, her sister, and me. There was very little eye contact. It was time, and the clean break was painful like the time I snapped my arm in half when I was twelve. We drove home in silence. We’re so sad and – at the same time – thrilled, even envious of her. She’s about to experience extraordinary things. She gets to travel to places she’s never heard of and do things she never dreamed possible. Heck, at the ripe age of eighteen, she’ll even learn to make her bed! (Dad zinger).
Next month, her twin sister Megan leaves for college. We’re thrilled, even envious of her. She gets a clean slate, a white canvass, and a box of crayons to draw her life. And not a wimpy 5-color box of crayons either, but rather the BIG box with 152 colors and a sharpener in the back. She’s about to experience extraordinary things.
Parents of young children, I tried. Believe me, I tried. I did everything short of making a time machine out of a DeLorean to slow the hands. It turns out, generating 1.21 gigawatts is not the problem – the problem is that time is undefeated. From the moment my wife and I brought our newborn daughters home, set them on the floor in their car seats and looked at each other not knowing what to do next, until yesterday when Emily slipped away into a waiting van, time moves forward – no matter what.
Andy Andrews says the goal is not to raise great kids. It’s to raise kids who become great adults. Although eighteen summers feel like eighteen minutes right now, I know they’re on their way. Enjoy every minute. Time may be undefeated, but it’s the most precious thing we’ve got.