Graduation And A Father’s Mixed Feelings

I’m in a strange and foreign land … at least emotionally.

Our oldest child, Paige, graduated from high school a couple of weeks ago.

She’s currently out of the country doing some humanitarian work.  Then she’ll be home for a few weeks, and in the fall she’ll leave for college – in Hawaii.

Perhaps it’s natural, but I have some mixed feelings as she prepares to leave.

First, I’m enormously proud of Paige.  She is beautiful, smart, kind, strong, and generous.  She cares about others, and the community in which we live.  (Unfortunately, she also has some of my stubbornness.)  I’ve spent a lot of time recently looking at pictures of Paige from the last 18 years.  They have reminded me of many of my favorite memories.  Moments that were funny, sweet, tender, tiring, exhilarating, and even all of those things at the same time.  I am grateful for each experience with Paige, and for the person that she has become.

Second, Paige’s graduation has brought with it some anxiety.  I know I wasn’t always the father that she deserved, but I take some comfort from knowing that I did my best.  For as long as I can remember, I have asked Paige four simple questions (occasionally met with significant eye rolling because I ask them so frequently):

  • Do you know that I love you?
  • Do you know that I love your mother?
  • Do you know that I’m proud of you?
  • Do you know that you’re beautiful?

Now, my mind is full of questions for me:

  • Did the point of the questions above really sink in?
  • What should I have done differently?
  • How could I have been a better father?

In parenthood, time goes by so slowly right up until the point where it goes by too quickly.  Circumstances change.  However, I know that my responsibilities as a father aren’t over.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to improve and try to become the father that Paige deserves.

Finally, mostly, I’m just incredibly excited for Paige’s future.  I have no idea the path that her life will take.  However, I know how talented and capable Paige is – even if she doesn’t fully recognize it yet.  I’m extremely confident that she can accomplish whatever she’d like too.  Regardless of whatever she decides to do, I will be a proud father.

I love Paige – completely and unconditionally.

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