Rachel Senior Year I’m anchored to a familiar perch, a red stool at our kitchen bar.  It’s one of my favorite writing spots, overlooking a squirrel’s playground every day and a bunny sanctuary on my luckiest days.

She rounds the kitchen corner in a burst of morning energy, her bare face and pony tail reminding me of days gone by, when she was seven or eight not 18 going on 19.  Forty-five minutes earlier I had slipped beside her in bed.

* * * * *

“Sorry I’m waking you up later than you asked,” I whispered and she croaked an unintelligible reply and turned from her side to her stomach.  It was invitation as far as I was concerned.

I combed my fingers through her hair.  Once silky golden, her curls had matured into coarse dirty blond tangles.  Still beautiful, just different.  She never uses a brush because that would make her hair “big;” she has no regard for Texas or the 80s.

I follow the strands down her neck and brush them to the side, rubbing her back.  “I remember when my hand covered your entire back,” and she responds with a muffled chuckle.  “Scratch with your fingernails,” she begs.  Up and down, back and forth, I carve memory into this moment.

* * * * * * *

With bible and notebook in hand, she’s headed outside for what she calls her “Jesus time.”  Her discipline and devotion and love for God is so pure, and I admire that in her.  I covet it.

She lays them on the counter, deciding to toast an English muffin first.  Out of the blue she declares, “I’m so thankful God gave me the perfect mother.”

She doesn’t play fair–this I’ve long known–and I wasn’t prepared for her pronouncement.  Tears from no where fill my eyes and I blurt, “Don’t leave me!” then instantly, “No, you need to leave me!” and she understands I’m talking about college.

I know it must sound like I’m a basket case at times, or maybe a helicopter parent, but really, I’m fine.  I do feel the depth and ache of my first child leaving home, true, but it is what we’ve always desired for our children:  healthy independence. I’d be much more sad if she were clinging to us and dreading this wonderful season of life.

She knows how to fix this quickly.

“I mean, you aren’t too perfect, the annoying kind, but what kind of mom would still take the time to lie down with me and play with my hair and scratch my back?”

Her English muffin now slathered in strawberry jam, she picks up her books and heads out the door, leaving me buried under a pile of memories and dreams…

and a single prayer.  No, a praise to God–

Thank you for giving me the perfect daughter.

I guess that makes us even.

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