Today plant an apple core in a park and come back in 20 years to check on your tree.
Par for the course lately… I accomplished day 84’s challenge, in a round about way. I got up early this morning and took Fish out for a walk. A typical day includes Fisher tagging along to work with me so he was flummoxed when I peeled him out of bed at 7 am. I grabbed an apple on my way out the door.
Ordinarily I listen to a book while I take a walk but this morning I needed a minute to gather my thoughts.
I managed to juggle a dog leash (stuffed in my sports bra! Hey, now! My boobs nourished a child for three and a half years AND they walk my dog! Amazing!!) a cup of coffee and an apple core. I’d planned on planting my apple core somewhere along my walk today. And as I knelt down next to the edge of some trees and dug a little hole with my foot I wondered if I’d be here to come check on “my tree” in twenty years as the book suggested.
And then I started to cry. Because this was only the first seed that would be planted today. My little girl “graduates” from pre-school today. She is excited. She has practiced her song “My Future’s So Bright” complete with shades, of course. (Em is the second bobbing head from the left, in the back row!) She has picked out an outfit. She has expressed her malcontent with continuing to go to pre-school for the remainder of the summer “because it makes no sense, I have GRADUATED!” She is ready.
Again I am left to wonder how it is that I have prepared her for yet another transition and failed to prepare myself at all. With each passing milestone of her childhood I am surprised all over again that it has crept up on me and yet seems to have come all but too slow for her liking.
I see in her a determination that I envy. We have been hard at work on swimming this summer. Our new pool requires the kids swim a length of the pool in order to go down the tube slide. From the day we found out she has been practicing. And rapidly, fearlessly improving. It is not just the former swimming teacher in me that swells with pride. She is convinced daily that “Today I will pass that test!” and is not defeated when she climbs out of the pool to head home for dinner with the knowledge that it might take “one or two more practices.”
I know it is not unusual for a kid to be convinced of their inevitable success. Each child at graduation this morning held up a picture of what they were going to be “when they grew up.” Doctors, teachers, ballerinas, veterinarians, mothers, a samurai, Darth Vader and a Superman. Not one of them said “I’m going to live in my parent’s basement and wait tables until this crappy temp job turns permanent.” Children are hopeful by design. But I can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment when I see how completely convinced she is of her success and happiness.
Emily has seen more sadness in me than I ever hoped to share with her. But when I see her so certain that it will all work out for her, I know that she has not only noted my sadness and my struggles. She has seen me relentlessly pursue that which will bring a smile to face, even when the journey took much longer than I had hoped. She has seen me grow in to the woman that knows she deserves nothing short of a dream come true.
I thought I would be overwhelmed with how big she seemed today. But instead I just kept looking at her little face. Her nose is the same as when she was born. Her fingers, though longer, still curl around mine just as they did when she was only a few days old. Her skin, even peppered with bug bites and scrapes, still feels brand new.
I may not return to the corner where I planted an apple seed this morning. But I will be here to see the seed that was planted today at graduation grow. I knew someday I’d put my arm around her, pulling her close to me, my eyes intently focused on the camera as if the camera could make that moment last forever. I knew someday she’d pull away, her focus on where she was headed, not where she had been… but I had no idea she would still be so very small.