Not in a freaky stepmother kind of way, mind you. I had one of those a long time ago and learned a lot from that experience.
I was so incredibly blessed when this girl officially came into my life nine years ago. I was so nervous. I knew how bad a step-relationship could be, and I did everything I could to make the experience easier for her. But I didn't need to. She and I were thisclose from the very first time we met.
I don't know how I got so lucky. I never dealt with tantrums, never any anger, never blame. She welcomed me with sweet, open, nine-year-old arms.
Tomorrow she graduates from high school, and as hard as I am trying to keep the tears from pouring as I type, I just can't. She is a beauty, inside and out, and I am so incredibly proud of her.
The past nine years went by in a blink. No more begging to play Life, Sorry and Whoville-opoly all in one sitting. No more sitting at the table and trying to work through impossible fourth grade math problems. No more being afraid to sleep alone at night. And no more kicking us both out of bed (literally) while she slept. No more gymnastics in the family room. No more paint fights with her girlfriends when they are supposed to be painting her room. No more choir concerts, competitions, football games. No more seeing her whenever I want.
I hope she will continue to bring her sweet, crazy, funny friends over, and raid the fridge, eat all the food and stay up so late I am staring at the clock wondering when I will get to fall asleep. I hope she will continue to do little craft projects with me. I hope she will continue to keep me as a confidant and not be afraid to tell me anything, even when it starts with "Don't tell Dad..."
I dream of the day we drop her off at college. I think this is hard...leaving her there will fill me with so much pride and angst I don't know what I'll do. I dream of the day she finds the "one" and wants to start a life with him. I dream of the day she finds the job that she absolutely loves. And I dream of the day (hopefully a while from now!) that she has her own child, "step" or otherwise. So she can begin to understand how deeply we love her.
For now, I will need to get through tomorrow. I am so filled with emotion...I've put off all thoughts of this day, on purpose. It was too hard to comprehend. I am so proud, so excited, so sad.
Here she is on stage a young woman: