My daughter is a junior this year. She is our only child. The good Lord blessed us with only one child but, in so doing, He blessed us every single day after. In just over a year, she will leave us to go off to college and start this new adventure. The part of her life where she becomes an adult independent of us. Every day I fight the primal urge to cover her in bubble wrap leaving holes only so that she can breathe. I want to protect her from the world. I want her to have a life without ever feeling pain or loss. But of course, this is not possible. She has, in fact, experienced pain and loss already. And the truth is that you cannot know great love and not know great loss. You cannot have great happiness and not have great grief. You cannot appreciate your successes without experiencing some failures. Some days, I feel like Nemo’s dad: protective, fearful and powerless. I also know Dory was right when she told him, “Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.” (https://ohmy.disney.com/movies/2015/04/23/9-dory-quotes-deeper-than-the-drop-off/) And yes, I am aware that I just used a Disney animated film as a literary reference. What can I say? There was at least a decade when animated films were my only cultural outlet. At any rate, Dory is right. As a parent, I have done my absolute best, first to keep this tiny human alive and then help her grow into a capable adult. I believe to my core that it is my responsibility to help her to become a strong, independent adult. I know that this means walking that fine line of letting her make her own mistakes and dust herself off and wrapping her in a bear hug while wiping her tears. I am aware, as every parent is I’m sure, that I have fallen short at times. Despite this, she has become a strong, smart, compassionate, talented young woman. I also know these are tumultuous times to be a teenager. Whatever your politics, I think we can agree there is much strife in the world. It can be a scary, unpredictable place. I want her to find her voice, her place in the world. I want her to live her convictions. Meanwhile, every day she is bombarded with media, popular and social. The world is literally at her fingertips. She has never known a time when the knowledge that is power was not hers for the searching. It is so much for a young heart and mind to navigate. When I look at her and her friends, I am so hopeful about the future. It is in the hands of courageous, creative, compassionate people. But I will hold my breath and pray, because one of those is my baby. A single voice in a powerful chorus. A fragile human testing the frontline of change.
(1/30 sec., f/4.2, 560 ISO, 55 mm)