Saturday, April 02, 2005

Proud Father, Sad Father, Joyful Father

My daughter, my little girl, my youngest child, my baby, received the proverbial "thick letter" from George Washington University, and she has been accepted into The School of Media and Public Affairs. In a few months, she will be studying journalism in our nation's capitol.

In less than two weeks, she will be turning 18. When I look at her, I see a smart, attractive young woman, but I also see the little girl who walked around with her "binkie" (pacifier). She drives a car now, but it seems like a few months ago that "cruising" meant pulling herself up on the coffee table and walking with both hands on it.

How wonderful that this child of mine is going to be studying journalism in the heart of Washington, DC! What a fantastic opportunity! She will be in her senior year during the next presidential election. Imagine the people she will see and meet!

I am choked with pride, but I also feel the twinge of sadness. Our house will be quieter without her. My mornings will no longer have the suspense of her mood. I will be reminded far less often how "out of it" I truly am. I won't see that sparkling smile as often, or hear her outrageously funny summations of her day at school, or her shockingly aware descriptions of her and her friends. Her laughter and wit are vibrant colors - their absence will dim my daily rainbow.

I wish so much. I wish I had been a better father - I know I was a good father, but I wish now I had taken her out to more "you and me" breakfasts. I wish I had been better at finding ways of interacting with her that weren't rooted in friendly teasing. I wish I had been the first person to show her the ocean, and I wish I could have conveyed to her more deeply some of the things I care about. I wish that the last time she ever cried on my shoulder weren't when I had failed her. I wish that I knew her better - that her interior life weren't such an enigma to me.

Some will wonder whether I worry about sending her to DC. I don't. She is smart, and we didn't make the mistake of over-sheltering her. She'll be fine. Of course, there is always the chance of something awful happening, but I can't even allow myself to conjure those thoughts. Besides, the chance of something awful happening to her in our nation's capitol is offset by the chance of something wonderful happening to her. To be a smart young woman studying journalism in Washington, DC will be an opportunity that Ali will seize, and she will thrive there.

I have had her in my daily life for almost 18 years now. She is a force of nature - a charming, funny, witty, friendly, smart, wise, self-aware, self-confident young woman. The time has come for her to move into the world. I know, in my heart of hearts, that she is going to change some corner of the world. And I am so proud to be her father, and to share her with the world.


Blogger Waveflux said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4/02/2005 11:11 PM  
Blogger Waveflux said...

You will always have the chance to be a better father to Ali. That won't change just because she's leaving home. She'll still need your counsel, your attentive ear, your shoulder to cry on. And you will have many opportunities to get to know her in the coming years. This is the very best part of fatherhood for you: she's finally interesting!

And as an independent adult, Ali will get to know and appreciate you in ways she never could as a kid under your wing.

Congrats to you both.

4/02/2005 11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful, it is touchimg that i felt it is me who is missing his daughter studying in nashville and I am sitting in india, ah!

12/16/2005 7:46 AM  
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