What exactly is a milestone and why is it supposed to be so special? I don’t know why my mind would wonder such a thing. I guess it’s because I’ve thought so much about this past weekend and I can’t stop thinking about it. My daughter graduated from Liberty University with a Master’s Degree in Human Services. This was, as they say, a milestone.
Another interesting fact about most milestones - they usually come with tears. It’s defined as a significant event but who determines what’s significant? Is there an unwritten social law that has listed what is seen as a milestone? We do seem programmed to notice certain moments in life…think about it. A child’s first steps is an event that warrants the video camera, calls to the grandparents, tears of joy and wonderment, and squeals of excitement. I know because I did all of the above! However, no one sees the first sleepless night, as the baby fusses and cries, as a moment to remember…oh, but I remember. Who bothers to record in the baby book when the little one surprises you with projectile vomiting that either goes all over you, the wall, or the car? I know because I had all of the above! All I can remember is wondering how that much could come out of one little baby.
Nonetheless, I guess milestones are celebratory occasions that mark something momentous. Such was this graduation. We were in the stadium watching and waiting for a glimpse of our daughter. Even though there were thousands of graduates, we were determined to see her. I was so focused on finding my daughter, out of all those students, that I wasn’t prepared when I finally saw her enter the stadium…it took my breath and the tears began to flow. Her dad and brother were waving and screaming her name as I was trying to speak but all I could do was wave .We were her fan club in the crowd…we always have been and always will be.
As she began walking in the processional to “Pomp and Circumstance,” the first thing she did was look up. We had text earlier to tell her the general location of our seats so she kept looking our way and finally spotted us. She broke out in a smile, waved and pumped her fists in the air to symbolize the victory in reaching this personal goal and then, kept walking. That was the killer…she kept walking and we kept cheering.
I was there for that milestone of seeing her first steps. While her dad was waiting on one end with his arms open, I was holding her hand and let go. She started wobbling but kept her balance and did it! She walked right into her dads waiting arms. She kept walking and we kept cheering.
After so many milestones and moments, here I was watching her take her first steps into the future that was waiting with open arms. She’s been a student for twenty years and it had finally come to an end. There was a certainty in that for me and thereby, a safety too. Now I was the one wobbling.
I heard very little after I saw her walk in. I thought and thought and thought some more. Sure this was a milestone, but life with my daughter has been filled with so many moments that every day felt like a significant event. There were times I looked at her and felt like the only mom in the world.
So many of the firsts our kids experience become some of our lasts. Every first means a parent is needed just a little less or a little differently. So it’s the moments in-between the milestones that are the ones that matter most. Those are the times when kids look up or look our way and need to see us cheering as the greatest fans of their lives. That’s when they need a bigger hand to hold, during uncertain times, and to know when it’s safe to let go. More importantly, it’s in these moments they need to see us doing the same thing by showing that our Heavenly Father waits for His children with open arms. He is, after all, a parent too.
Well, I have to face it. Another chapter has closed but I’ll never forget that day. I'll never forget that smile when she looked up and found us, and those steps she kept taking while we kept cheering…what a moment.