Last night, we brought them to the airport. They were almost bursting with excitement. This trip will become the culmination of their journey over the last four years.
It was only two days ago, when we watched them receive their diplomas, clad in the customary black gown and cap with the cardinal shawl adorning their chests. Underneath their toga, were all sorts of wacky garb, in keeping with the spirit of their university. All through the ceremony, some were blowing bubbles like they were air kisses. Another group kept tossing a beach ball around playfully. So irreverent. So endearing. Although Stanford instilled the value of deep and meaningful intellectual learning, they certainly did not instill any pretentiousness or stuffiness in their graduates.
The speeches were all meaty, meaningful, and eloquently delivered. Yes, Education is a journey and not the endpoint. We saw our children through their grade school, then high school, and recently, their college years. We heard their stories, helped them pick up when they fell, watched them lick their wounds and move on. The classroom or lecture hall is no longer the exclusive venue for education. We saw our daughter travel far and wide through her high school and college years, lived where people did things differently, and we realized that the world is her classroom. That learning is a perpetual activity. We are never really done with learning.
This morning, I walked into her room, now empty of her presence. I ran my hand over her things, thinking that it will be another few weeks before she returns like a hurricane, undoing any semblance of order we try to put in her room. So much stuff. So many memories. I sat on her bed and glanced at the photographs on the walls, some plaques, a few trophies, lots of memorabilia. So much has gone on in the past 21 years. So much still has to happen.
She will continue to learn love, loss, betrayal, even failure—they say these are life’s greatest teachers. They are all inevitable and even necessary for anyone to become who they need to be. I had wished before if I could shield her from the hardships and painful experiences. But I soon realized this would be the worst thing I could ever do. In doing so, I would only curtail her chances at enlightenment and fulfillment. We all need to let life in, but with it comes its nasty cohorts.
As I fold her clothes and put away her pens and stray coins, I realized I am now less a mother than years back. I look back at the experience and am thankful for the opportunity. I am back to being more a wife, companion, friend, daughter, worker, blogger, and a host of other things. This is what makes going through these phases of life so much more interesting. We are never stuck in a phase forever. And so, to the next 21 years, I say, “I’m ready!”