One thing that I love about my mom is that she always seems prepared for us to take the next step. When I drove off to college there were no tears, no desperate final hugs; simply a mandate to work hard and have fun. So I did. Then when I was 18 my older sister graduated from college, and I had just completed my first year. My sister had no immediate plans so instead of rushing into post-graduate life she said, "Let's go to Europe!" So we did. And my mother not only supported this plan but let us borrow a little money to make it happen, when she herself had yet to fulfill her own dreams of traveling the world.
A couple of years after that I earned a scholarship to work in a Congressman's office during the summer as an intern. (Which makes me sound cooler than I really am - the truth is that Congressman Packard's office is where my sister landed that first post-graduate job, discovered they had a scholarship to award to an intern, and she picked me. It's all about who you know.) My mom could not have been more thrilled. A politician at heart, she threw me on a plane to Washington D.C. and waited for me to write legislation and change the world. I hope she wasn't too disappointed to never spot me on C-SPAN, but it wasn't a total loss. After all, I did respond to thousands of constituents, formed a crush on the guy who worked at the Republican National Committee, and memorized the days that chocolate/peanut butter frozen yogurt was being served in the cafeteria. I was very important there on The Hill.
Always the cheerleader, my mom has been excited for every new chapter in my life. But despite her example, I feel completely unprepared for the bigger phase changes in my children's lives. I know this topic of middle school angst is getting old, but I'm just not used to having Samantha gone every day until five o'clock because of track practice after school. On her first day of practice I noticed that she had forgotten her water bottle. Afraid she might not survive the 90 degree heat I filled it up with ice water and met her at her locker after her last class. (*Gasp* I'm a locker stalker!) The girl who had previously waved at me during her first practice now looked at me and said, "Uhh...what are you doing here?" (She's a quick learner) Someday she will thank me for that ice water. Or not. Whatever.
So here's my conclusion. Either my mom was just a really good actress, or I'm just not very good at learning by example. OR, my mom's not a freak, but I am. OR, any opportunity to get rid of me as a child or otherwise was ALWAYS met with a smile and a wave. Come to think of it those were some pretty enthusiastic waves. VERY wide grins now that I think about it. And do I recall...leaping? Hey, wait a minute...!