Like a dandelion to the wind, soon my second and last child will become one among millions when I pluck her from bed and drive faraway -- likely south of the line -- and release her as a tiny parachute to the world, she more ready than I.
Like her brother three years before, my first dandelion to the wind -- this parting will be quick but tart, like sucking a too-ripe lemon that stings the lips so you cannot speak or give voice to your feelings -- and you watch the action in a slide show as it passes before your eyes, with you standing by, frozen.
She will strut bravely, looking haute couture and feeling both her oats and her vulnerability, hoping she can make her dreams a reality; I will miss the years brushing her long hair, driving her and her brother everywhere, sitting at games, yelling - Yay - in the hoop! A home run! Kick it straight down the line!
I will miss the dance rehearsals, the dance team performance at the Celtics, the yearly dance recitals, running from work or school to the grocery then throwing a meal together like Bam! Shazam, A la Kazam! then stuffing the dishwasher and off we go again to the band or orchestra concert, only to fall dead asleep the minute we walk in the door that night.
I will miss the years when I felt as if I were a washed-up, used dishrag, dreaming later that night of escaping along the boardwalk, but having to return to get my satchel which had fallen into the ocean, only to find a goose and a duck chasing me, pecking me all the way. I knew it was you two, all along. This was a true dream, I tell you.
And to you, my second and last child, I say:
I will miss reading aloud four picture books a night for years, in English or French (funny how no one minded that I never finished translating the French Disney books and just read the French as if you would understand it, which I think you did), I will miss holding you and your brother in my lap as I sat in the rocker singing, 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game," and "Till There Was You" till you both fell asleep.
I will miss the years of swimming lessons (though neither of you can swim), then running into the library half wet for an afternoon of my reading books aloud - 100 books a summer - to each of you - just so you could get your little prizes - and yes, to those who doubt this fact, you remind them proudly that yes, I did read 100 books a summer for 5 summers to each of my two children.
I will miss the days of your little 'cooking show' when we made brownies, cookies or cakes; I will miss making a cake for Baby (your blanket), because it was Baby's birthday; I will miss the cardboard boxes we cut out and painted and stuck our heads through; I will miss your Halloween costumes - you as a Cow in a Gateway box, you as a Green M and M,Â you as a Die in a cardboard box we cut and painted.
I will miss the stories we made up each summer when your brother had team practices and you were too bored to watch, so we sat in the sandbox and carved mountains, rivers and valleys, then a house or two, a family here and there, and we gave them names; I will miss Walden Pond when we built a sand dam to keep out the water and I will miss our beach days, when we built a sand fort against the tide in a game we knew we'd lose, but playing it was the point.
I will miss the decoupage place mats we made from Victorian Living magazine and I will miss putting out our Christmas Village;Â I will miss the tea parties at the library and I will miss you and your friends dressing up in my skirt suits and heels so you could run around the yard, pretending to go to work; I will miss the years I helped in kindergarten and elementary school, helping you and your friends read and write books, build a rain forest, count money, do math, or just be there to smile with you.
I will miss the joint sleepover parties, which were so convenient because we always 'seemed' to find friends whose parents had an older boy and a younger girl exactly the same ages as you two and I will miss our own pajama parties in which we painted our nails, watched a video and sang "Miss Mary Mack" till the cow jumped over the moon and the dish ran away with the spoon.
I will miss selling the Girl Scout Cookies in which I called all the mothers of the boys in your class so you could get your badge for 100 boxes and I will miss the Christmas Concerts and Choir; I miss your First Communion and your brother's and I will even miss co-teaching CCD, especially the 'listening to God' tape I made that you loved so much.
Most of all, I will miss that these 21 years of raising you and your brother through smiles and tears, through thick and thin -- through throwing up in your bed at night to throwing up in the hallway at school -- have whizzed by at sonic speed and which gave you wings to soar and roots to return to, but will have somehow left me home alone to write these down.