Remember when Jesse Spano got addicted to caffeine pills and fell apart in Zach’s arms saying “I’m so excited, I’m so excited, I’m so, so scared”.  It’s exactly me, well, I’m not in a band or studying for the SATs like she was, but I think you will find the connection by the end of this story.

I feel this immense sense of pride being at all my senior in high school daughters’ events.  She’s just quite simply good at everything she does, with one large exception of keeping her room clean.  She’s a fantastic dancer.  I know, I know, I write about it enough.  But I can remember her having such a hard time when she was younger with her turns.  She was always struggling to catch up to the speed of the dance or never feeling fully confident in her spot.  Now, as I watch her perform, she is a different human.  She is a true performer and leader for her team.  She’s no longer that girl unsure of herself, she’s the old kid now that others look up to.  

Just today, as I am typing this, she got accepted to a college.   Her team over the weekend came in 2nd place in the State for high school dance team.  We traveled to Broadway to see our favorite female artist perform in first show back on Broadway since Covid.  She got the lead in her ballet show, being cast as Belle in Beauty and the Beast, her absolute #1 dream role. There are a million life moments I should be screaming from the rooftops about, but I can’t find all the damn words.  I was talking to my wife the other day and I was telling her how this year is moving way way too fast.  We love it, we love all the things happening.  We love, and this is weird maybe, but that we have no clue where she is half the time, when she’s coming home or what her plan for the day is.  She’s earned that trust with us and I love that she has it.  I love this freedom she has.  

But if I am being honest, I can’t seem to navigate my feelings.  I’m in the moment, I love watching her at all these “lasts” for her, but it just feels like it is moving at the speed of sound.   As I think about all these amazing things for my girl I feel absolutely paralyzed.  I’m all wrapped up in pride and joy and fear, caught between smiling and wanting to cry my eyes out knowing these moments have somewhat of an end date.  I’m an emotional wreck.

And, with all this going on my youngest daughter is crushing her life, making me laugh almost daily, and really finding her path, getting better grades than her incredibly smart older sister.  I find something new and quirky and wonderful about her all the time.  She’s worth a billion words and I can barely give her a paragraph.

If I was in a therapist office, they would say I have a fear of change.  Been at the same job for 17 years, lived in the same town almost my whole life, have the same friends I have had since I was 10, and I have been in my kids lives every single day of theirs.  One of those things is changing in less than a year and I won’t see that beautiful face each day and I’m petrified, excited, sad, happy, nervous, proud, sad again, and then I land on pure joy for the next chapters in her life.  She doesn’t need me and her Mom, and that might be the greatest thing I have ever come to find out.  Her Mom raised her right, she’s strong, independent, smart, and has a heart of gold. 

I wonder if this is true in most houses or just mine, but I think Mom raises the girls.  She’s like the perfect chef.  Adds all the right ingredients, knows when to turn the heat up or down and slaps Dad’s hand when he tries to add a little too much pepper.  I used to think that my wife just woke up and was a great Mom.  Like, how does she just know what to do or say all the damn time.  Until I realized that although there are a million things in her head to keep track of or remember, my two little girls were always in the front of all of that.  She wasn’t just good at it; she was constantly working at being Mom.  Jesus, I envy that about my wife.  Whatever good comes from the next chapter in my little girls’ life will be a credit to her and how many times she slapped my hand stopped me from ruining the recipe.

Thanks for coming with me on this crazy little journey. Thanks for giving me the chance to be completely vulnerable and lost in my own thoughts and feelings. Thanks for reading my dumb words and letting me act like I’m the first human to ever send a kid to college. How can I be heart broken and completely brimming with pride all at the same time?

Being a Dad is completely incredible in every single way. Having girls is that gift I can’t explain, something that makes me believe there actually might be a God and leaves me searching for words I can’t find. But I will keep trying…

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