So, it’s all very, very good. We’ve had college in mind for 18 years. We’ve saved for it for 18 years. We didn’t really hope she’d live in the basement.
We paid for books, drove her to games and rehearsals, pushed her to work hard. We filled out the applications, did more than stress our minds out, cross our fingers and say our prayers. But geez, this is the deal? She actually LEAVES?
I’m paying for this pit in my stomach?
This picture sits on my desk. This was my baby Cope starting kindergarten, just a little while ago.
I remember her so well at this age. She had a little brother and a baby sister who accompanied her to school. She wore a yellow rain jacket and Elmo backpack. On the first day of kindergarten she came home and threw a ginormous tantrum, collapsing on the couch in a deep sleep from sheer exhaustion. This would continue to happen throughout her childhood 🙂
She lives with passion, this girl.
What a privilege it has been to be her mother. There are no perfect mothers, but I have tried to be a good one. I’ve pondered: Do I regret other “opportunities” I didn’t take so I could be home more and raise children? Do I regret any of the stories read, the bedtime routines, the wake up and go to sleep times? I regret none of it. I have no greater accomplishment.
Suddenly she’s this girl: so confident and smart and compassionate and beautiful.
We had a great August. Slow days of packing and purging and sorting. What to bring to college when you have to put it on an airplane (2 carry-ons per passenger, nothing over 50lbs.)
We also had hostage-like negotiation sessions over clothes – she is always raiding my closet!A certain sister already had her room packed up before Cope left, chomping at the bit to move downstairs instead of across the hall from mom and dad.
Cope and I and flew across the country, hovering above the great Salt Lake. It was getting real.
I was that really strange mom taking photos of my grown daughter while she slept beside me. I found myself gazing at her skin and eyelashes, wondering how this thing called “TIME” works. I thought of Erma Bombeck’s poem, WHY DON’T YOU GROW UP?
Guess what? They do.
Although Utah is a desert, we went hiking and found TREES!
We stayed with my sister and family where Cope walked little Autumn to first grade. On the first day, Autumn cried and clung to Cope. Cope looked at me with big eyes and panic, mouthing, “WHAT DO I DO?”
I said: Give her a hug and kiss, I’ll see you later, and walk away.
Oh dear, I feared I would be Autumn in a few days.
We made it! She has a room key. I don’t. What the heck?
We love her dorm and roommate!
After buying out the entire local Target (when people tell you that bringing your child to college is the most expensive trip you will make – THEY ARE RIGHT. I, the tight-fisted budget mom was suddenly spending her feelings on lamps and hangers and “Honey, look at this llama lamp, do you want it for your room???! No? How about mug with your initial or how about M for Mom? Make-up? Do you want make-up? What can I buy you???”) Who was this woman???
We spent HOURS debating about room decor (Believe me, Pinterest IS NOT YOUR FRIEND). However, after agonizing over the tapestry and bedding for literally DAYS, we had just what she wanted. Bless you, Amazon, and your free Prime 2-Day shipping.
“Dad, mom knows she’s not staying, right?”
We walked around campus, reliving the college years (Gregor and I met at BYU!) Cope patiently endured us.
This is a much bigger pond than our little town…
Of course we had to get pictures with the BYU cougar. “Moooooom!” And yes, we are now completely dressed from head to toe in True Blue BYU fan gear. I’m sorry if you find me annoying for the next four years 🙂
On the bright side. The BYU bookstore has the best cinnamon gummy bears IN THE WORLD. This is not a joke. For $2.50 a bag, I’ll just eat her way through college.
On the wall in the bookstore: We went to spy on her the next day at freshman orientation (we didn’t see her). Um, is this what they mean by “helicopter parents”? Clearly, we are part of the problem.
We made up an excuse to meet up for a few minutes before our flight took off. When she came walking across campus she looked like she could be in college. Oh wait…she is?
Final hugs good-bye, in the Joseph Smith building, where Gregor really fell in love with me 🙂
And so it begins.
We left her in the capable hands of mighty Mount Timpanogus, my most favorite mountain. Can you see her lying across the top, left to right? Keep an eye on my girl, Timp.
She will, as this girl does, read. And study. And learn. She will, as BYU’s motto states: “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve.”
The Class of 2017. “You Are the Y.”
Excuse me while I go get a tissue. As Gregor says, “this is the happiest sad I think I’ve ever felt.”
I can say “we” because y’all know this day is a family affair.
This milestone – wow.
It is the toughest paradox of love: letting go and holding on.
I’m so proud of this girl. She has worked really really hard. She has hiked and sang and ran and studied. She has cried and laughed and prayed and LEARNED SO MUCH. She stumbled and fell and got up many many times. She sailed the ocean blue, was elected school leader, played Belle and freaked out over finance class (the drama runs deep :). I’m so grateful for it all.
I give thanks for a tremendous education, an amazing advisor who not only advised, but fed and loved her. I give thanks to the many fabulous teachers that not only noticed, but SAW her. Cope was born a “faculty brat,” raised on campus with 12 dorm boys until we moved off campus, and has always aspired to walk across this specific stage. The “bittersweet” cliche? Totally true.
This girl made me a mother and I’m in awe of her. There’s the other paradox: the child becomes the teacher.
Brene Brown says the etymology of the word “paradox” captures the heart of what it means to love. Greek origins joins the two words para (contrary to ) and dokein (opinion.) The Latin paradoxum means “seemingly absurd but true.”
Parenting captures that exactly – seemingly absurd but true!
It is seemingly absurd that we are here…but it’s also true. It’s seemingly absurd that my “baby girl” Cope (who was just wearing a onesie!) will not live under our shared roof this fall.
It’s seemingly absurd that I will survive this. But alas, that is true, too.
This day of graduation is a paradox of joy and grief. There is absolutely no control over either one. And I know very well that in life there is no joy without sadness. There is no sadness without experiencing that great joy.
Now excuse me while I go find my tissues. This is a happy day 🙂
Each student is allowed 1 large duffel bag and a smaller day pack for school books. The summer reading was In the Heart of the Sea, “where basically,” Cope summed up, “everyone eats each other.”
A cheery image for any parent, no?
In the Heart of the Sea is being turned into a movie and coming out this December, starring Chris Hemworth. It’s likely to be on the DO NOT WATCH list, alongside A Perfect Storm…and all other disastrous ocean films.
Before embarking, Cope and her crew stayed together at a campsite in New Hampshire. We had our practice good-bye. Cope said, “This is just preparing you for when I go to college!” (said a bit too gleefully.)
I do not like this, not one bit. Let’s move on and not dwell on such things.
We drooled over her course materials, laid out on her cot. Cod! I suddenly wanted to know all about cod, too!
The crew travelled to Hurricane Island in Maine, then off to Gloucester, Massachusetts: the true embarkment of their ocean adventure (and the true embarkment of A Perfect Storm!)
We visited with Cope for the last time until November 21st.
“Mom, come see my bunk!” Cope is up front by the bow (gotta use my ship language correctly!) Her father, The Professor, says that she’s sure to get lots of waves and ocean swells. And if the ship leaks, she’ll be sure to get wet. Isn’t that SUPER FUN????! One of the items on the packing list is Dramamine. And foul weather gear. And flippers. And a special knife for “rigging.”
Here’s the kitchen.
How do they shower?
1. A bucket of sea water is dumped over head.
3. A bucket of fresh water is dumped over head.
Done! Also: they swim a lot.
Each crew member is part of a watch group for 4-8 hours, 24 hours a day. I keep imagining what it will be like for these young sailors, sailing under the great light of the moon at 3 a.m., feeling the wind as the sails shift, speaking with dolphins, and watching the sun set and rise while pulling ropes on that beautiful schooner.
I do not worry about hurricanes, sharks, or pirates. Or cannibalism. I am excited, and yes, a bit jealous of this great adventure. If only I could fit into Cope’s pocket and see all that she is seeing. Cope is a lover of words and brought her journal. I imagine a stunning novel could come of it. What happens to a crew of 22 teenagers on a small ocean boat, together for 2 months? Oh, the possibilities…
Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt and Uncle, and all the Boston cousins came to wave farewell. Paige said, “Oh, darn it! I forgot my white handkerchief to wave good-bye!”
After touring the boat (which was very crowded with parents and siblings) and chatting, we heard: “Okay, folks. I have to be the meanie. You have five minutes to say good-bye. FIVE!”
Perhaps I should have been better prepared. But I found myself a bit speechless. What advice would you give as your child as she sets sail for the next two months?
When I see this picture (which I don’t like of me, but why does it have to be about ME?) I can’t quite believe I’m a mom who has a child this old. Old enough to sail the ocean without me. Who is looking at me and is SO EXCITED TO EMBARK. (Thank you, Lindsey for the shots!)
Yes, I’m sure I was full of advice, but the only thing I could say was, “I love you so much.”
There’s this odd feeling of…when you aren’t all together all the time, where there still be four of you?
The siblings took the good-bye the hardest (though one sibling is excited about “exploring” her older sister’s room.) The boy misses her the most. He comes home wanting to tell her all about his soccer game and homework and high school and… she’s not there to tell. And then, I swear, the boat started to move! This was getting real. Can you see her? She has two girls sitting on her lap. And yes, there are BOYS on the boat, too! That boat kept going and going…and darn it, I wished I had my white handkerchief. Dave Pilla, Ocean Classroom coordinator and maritime expert shouted, “Hip-Hip…” and we all yelled back, “Hooray!” three times for good luck. And then that Roseway fired a cannon shot that rivaled a pirate ship. We waved and waved until that boat was out of sight. Cousin posse; we shall not remove our ocean bracelets until our girl returns. The Roseway is headed to Mystic Seaport, the NYC Harbor School, Baltimore, Georgia, and Charleston. From there they will have 10-12 straight days at sea as they make their way to the Caribbean and eventually San Juan, Puerto Rico. Of course, this is all dependent on the weather. And Joaquin.
I’ve been given lots of advice since my girl sailed away. My two favorites: “Don’t be such a baby.” Ha. For real. And: “It was very comforting to know Logan (her son) was always under the same moon as me.”
I thought of our girl as we watched the lunar eclipse on Sunday, as the bright light of the moon was shrouded in darkness and eventually a blood moon. I think of her as the sun sets and the sun rises on our fields of green and the weather begins to change and leaves fall to the ground. No matter where she sails, she is with us always.
I came across this right after she left. It made me think of her, too.Indeed, she’s had a very happy start. That lucky lucky duck!
There seems to have been a small shift in the wind, like when Mary Poppins either comes or goes. Things have suddenly changed in our world.
This summer in Arizona there were babies and toddlers, but we were also suddenly surrounded by teenagers and tweens.
It’s only been a year, but so much has changed. These girls and the one boy (poor Nellie, always surrounded by GIRLS) are as tall as their mothers and just as opinionated…dare I say mouthy? 🙂
They’re confident one moment, insecure the next. They’re loud one moment, then quiet and sullen. They scowl then shriek with delight.
They’re funny, smart, and can hardly wait for the next big thing. Whatever that is. They carry cell phones (a recent addition in our home), text like crazy, and speak in text talk.
“Your hair is so gorg” (gorgeous)
“Sup awk!” (super awkward)
“That’s so adorb” (adorable)
They spend HOURS in front of the mirror (not joking), take a million “selfies”, sleep in late, and can’t seem to fall asleep until every adult in the house is asleep.
This year, when the adults were putting babes to bed, the teens were outside, swimming in the dark with the lights on the pool. Taking photos, laughing, and coming in when they wanted, being in charge of locking up the pool for the night. And the weird thing was…we trusted them to do it.
I could hear them (as I lay in bed) in the kitchen laughing quietly, eating snacks, and feeling like queens in a castle. This year I didn’t always know where they were or what they were doing. This year they had a new freedom that wasn’t dictated by their parents like it was the year before. It’s and odd thing. In one sense it’s wonderful, but it also signals this whole new world that I’m not a part of, nor do they need me to be a part of.
They’re always trying to one up each other. Then they get mad and make up in one quick minute.
They can’t stand you one moment, then come crying to you the next because you’re the only one who understands. Everything you do is wrong, you really don’t know anything about anything, but “let’s go ask mom” is a huge part of the vernacular.
The eldest cousins, all born within just a few months of each other. I have a very clear image of them sitting on a couch, bald, crying for mama. They see each other once a year and they pick off just where they left off.
But now they can cook, clean, and are capable of just about anything you ask (though sometimes they pretend to be clueless.) They hold, rock, and burp babies. They are little mothers-in-training.
Everyone is their “best friend.” For instance, in one conversation, you can hear about five different “best friends.”
And they are so pretty, so talented, so ready for the world. It almost breaks my heart that I only have four years left with my girl. Four years is a wink. Such a quick wink.
My brother laughs at my sentimentality. What sentimental feelings? Who, me?
This year they somehow finagled their way into girl’s day out with the old ladies – lunch and pedicures.
They kneel like one of the kids, but are as big as their mamas.
Cope recently acquired a cell phone. She’ll tell you that she was the last person on the whole earth to have one, but she sure is excited about this new addition in her life. She giggles over texts and the secret life she shares with her friends. She loves to text me all the time (I love this one). Here she is at work, not feeling good.
She has unlimited texting while I only have 250 a month. I have a feeling I’ll be paying a little extra every month. I think it’s worth the conversations we have.
The teenager hates you one moment, and loves you the next. They hurt your feelings, then endear you for life. This girl makes me laugh daily. She and her brother follow me around the house quoting books, movies, and Youtube stunts. Then they won’t say one word in the car.
This is a picture of Cope SUPER excited about the underwear I got her for her birthday right before going to the Grand Canyon (which she did ask for since her money is not worthy of such a purchase.)
She corrects me daily, loves to argue and prove a point, and I’ll admit it…is one of my very best friends. We have mere weeks until she starts high school. A whole new ball game.
Ah, around here it’s love in the time of teenagers. The phrase that keeps coming to mind is “Love More.”
Here’s something I read from Saren, who took notes from Margaret Archibald, mother of eight amazing children:
Make sure your eyes light up when your children walk into the room (from the great author, Toni Morrison)
Raise your kids so that each one feels like they’re your favorite child.
Think about what you want your children to be able to say about you one day – then work every day to be that person more and more.
Technology distractions are huge, hard issues for mothers today – we need to figure out how to keep our phones, Facebook, blogs and Pinterest from taking center stage so much in our lives so we can really be present for the joy motherhood offers and avoid the “compare snare.”
I wonder what my teens say about me in their secret blog posts?
Were you close to your parents during the teen years?
Yep, I’ve officially turned into the Don’t Carpe Diem, mom. I’m sorry, it just can’t be helped. My first-born is almost as tall as I am. She’s definitely smarter. Discussions somehow always turn into the state debate. I especially like when she corrects my grammar.
She’s on facebook.
Her homework in on the internet.
She wants a smart phone.
Her new room in the basement is her hang-out of choice.
My little girl is growing up and like she likes to blissfully tell me, “I’ll be gone in five years!” Off to college, off to freedom and a dorm room and no one to tell her to wash her hair.
This is her last year at her little K-8 school where she still plays 4-square at recess. I love that she still has recess. We should all have recess.
But change is a’coming. Because my husband works at a private boarding school, and she is a “faculty brat,” she has the opportunity to apply for high school. She took the SSAT in November, had to submit a lengthy application, have an interview, and turn in four recommendations.
For the past three years she’s heard us say, “Better get good grades if you want to get in…better have some extracurricular activities…show good character – your teachers need to have something nice to say!”
The picture above is of the day she had her formal, sit-down interview with an admissions officer. She was so nervous, so excited.
She and Gregor foraged my closet for a suitable and demure outfit.
“It looks like I’m dressed up in my mom’s clothes,” she complained.
“That’s because you are,” I replied. Her book? Les Miserables, which she apparently discussed at great length during the interview. Which makes me laugh.
One more picture, Copey! “Mom, no, stop it…”
“Bye mom!” Bye honey…you might get in someday, too if you can remember to bring your homework home and stop forgetting it at school. Maybe clean out your locker once in awhile…
The other day Cope told me she heard a story on NPR about rats. She loves NPR. “They said that mother rats licked their babies…”
“So I’m supposed to lick you?” I interrupted.
“Sorry.” Bad Listener.
“They lick their babies and snuggle them and dote on them and up to first year they absolutely can’t give enough love and affection.” I nod, approvingly, remember all the rocking, holding, rocking, napping, nursing…
“But…” she raises her eyebrows and uses her finger while she talks, “Once they get to be a certain age the mother rats have to let go and the babies have to go off on their own and if you don’t let them they actually regress in progress. They start to go backwards – they actually die.”
“I bet you made that up,” I say, knowing she’ll freak out.
“I did not!” she says, stamping her foot.
“What are you trying to tell me?”
I swear it wasn’t 5 seconds later when I heard her say in a little voice…”Will you come snuggle with me after you tuck Brynne and Paige in?”
I smile. And I don’t ask her if she’s going to die from my smothering. Mothering smothering. It’s all good. This is what Cope is still supposed to look like:
Everyday she tells me how many more days she has to wait until she gets the golden letter, which is something like getting the owl from Hogwarts. Will she get in? Today there are 31 more days to wait! This is a picture is of her dancing on the table on campus, something she did quite a lot of, when we were dorm parents to twelve teenage boys. Ah, those were the days…room inspections, boy odor sniffing, and ramen noodles. Sometimes I actually miss it. If this girl gets in, and you see her dancing on the table next year, they’ll be a lot more (s)mothering discussions. Love, the mother rat.
This summer the big C turned 12. That meant she graduated from Primary, where all the kids are, ages 3-12 during church. It’s where I’ve been for years, with my sweet babes around me, all four kids together. But in January, when I looked around, my oldest wasn’t there. It happened! She moved on without me. How rude.
She didn’t think it was rude, oh no, Cope was soooooo excited. I admit, although she wasn’t in the same room with me, I was feeling so lucky that she had entered a program I have complete faith in. Ms. Cope is a “Young Woman.” She has new leaders that swooped in and carried her off into this wonderful world of goals, personal progress, and summer camp. I’m also hoping they reinforce my latest mantra (passed on from my father): Boy are bad. We’ll see. They are going to play a big part of her life in the next few years.
Her leaders had a party just for Cope, to help her feel welcome. To her, they just about walk on water.
And if there’s Friendly’s Forbidden Chocolate, you can bet I’m in on the action.
Cope is the first of a slew of girls entering the program. She feels quite mature, quite ready to lead and pave the way for the younger girls.
She got her Young Women’s Booklet and was hopping up and down, ready to finish it in one day, even though it’s a book to work on until she’s 18, when she graduates from the program. In this Young Women’s booklet are goals to work on. They are all spiritual in nature.
When I finished the program many years ago, I yelped, “Yea! No more goals!” and my teacher was so appalled, “What do you mean? You’re just starting,” she implored. Poor dear. She thought she had failed. But I was serious. I was done with goals.
Ha. She was right, it was just the start of many many goals to be made in life. She had prepared me well.
The Young Women’s Program has 8 values:
Choice and Accountability
I see a lot of kids on a daily basis. My eyes light up with excited 3-year-olds, I empathize with disillusioned 15-year-olds. I talk with confident 16-year-olds, and my heart hurts when an 8-year-old has a life that is already too hard. I want to say, Don’t you know who you are? Let me tell you about your divine nature!
In this house, we are on the verge of high school, on the verge of great decisions. Who doesn’t want their child to be everything they can be?
Tonight, Cope wanted to pass off one of her goals, so she taught a lesson to her family. We tried to sit very still and listen and not poke each other, stick out tongues, or laugh out loud. Her lesson was on Faith. I watched her read and teach. I saw her hesitate, stumble over what exactly she wanted to say, then come confidently to the finish. I saw the way her eyes searched for meaning, they way her brain reached conclusions based on knowledge, prayer, and personal experience.
I was reminded that children don’t stay small for long, they grow and can become something really really great. Proud of you, Big C.
Last Saturday was a great day on the soccer field, especially when I looked across the field and saw a rainbow from one side of the field to the other.
The weather was perfect, a little cool, but not too cold. It was a long day: 11-4:30 with thirty minute games. The only thing that could have made it better was if I was on the field too instead of the sideline coaching! But that was fun too.
A beautiful fall day
These two were wonderful. They played for hours and hours on the sideline, occasionally asking for m&m money, and then would be off again.
Gotta love the mouth guards.
The jamboree was for Cope’s 7th/8th grade soccer team. Nelson had a tournament in another town so I didn’t get to see him play 🙁
The other coach and I split up Cope’s team so everyone could play more. I’ve been coaching Cope’s team since she was six years old. They used to play in a big beehive, hide behind my legs, and sometimes cry. Now, they get the game of soccer. They’ve learned to use space, to dribble without falling over, and to pass before running into someone. They’re getting so strong, so skilled. What a great reward for any coach.
Cope played well as center mid – thanks Becky for the awesome pictures!