Once again I have spent a Thursday night driving along dark, foreign highways to strange cities, unfamiliar hotel beds and early wake-up calls. Which as always leads me to my ultimate place on any given Friday or Saturday morning in November or December – a folding chair in the black box theatre of some college where my eldest will audition for one of the coveted spots in the university of the day’s theatre department.
The room, as usual, is filled with eager, backbone-straight, fresh-faced seventeen-year-olds and their trailing parents. Pleasant handshakes and sweet smiles belie the nervous tension that sifts in and out and among the students and parents alike. I am sure I am not the only one to silently wonder “what talent does ‘your’ child bring to this?” or sheepishly pray, “Please, Lord, if this be Your plan, let her do well!”
With four colleges down and five (or is it six?) to go, I am getting good at all this driving, hotel booking (got to love Priceline.com), nail biting, college audition craziness. Besides, these “overnighters” have given me and our dear, eldest daughter time alone to re-find ourselves. To discuss life and music tastes. To solve just a few of the nation’s woes.
What has been hardest in this whole process however is being the observer, not the doer. I sit and listen to students and parents pose questions to the faculty about future employment opportunities – a common concern in the area of theatre majors - and shake my head positively only to realize it is our daughter, not I, who will be making these decisions in four years. It is her, not I, who will be looking at life all laid out new and clean.
And I have to wonder, where did the time go?
When did it go from being my life that I was living and planning and dreaming, to a life that was not mine to live or plan or even dream?
It is a bitter-sweet place to be, this place of feeling my life’s dreams shrink inward as my clock runs down, but watching our first chickadee shake off the downiness of our nest and take flight without us.