Well, today was the big day. The girls were graduating.
I may have taken a sip or two from the juice keg we bought for the girls. You know, just for fun.
I took the girls’ young adult photos early. I knew that they wouldn’t want to stop their lives before their next birthday so their dear old mom could get the next shot in the series.
Later that morning we all piled into the car and headed to City Hall for the big event. I was nervous, the twins were not.
Mom, Dad, and Holly were there too for Colleen’s graduation. Oliver and Lanya couldn’t make it because Luka had the flu.
It was a fantastic ceremony. We never would have guessed a couple of years ago but Liv was Valedictorian. She was also voted most artistic. Penny was voted most likely to save the world. Colleen got most athletic.
We were so proud of all three girls.
The next morning Garrett and I took Penny out for breakfast. Just the three of us.
Garrett and I had a specific reason for wanting to take Penny out but we wanted to wait to talk to her until after we ordered. Garrett, being the wonderfully eloquent man that he is tried to start the conversation.
“Penny, you might not realize this but you are very beautiful. Like your mom. She’s hot. It’s why I married her. So…well college boys make terrible decisions and they might try to get you to go to bed with them. And while we support any decision you make…that one is not a good one.”
“Wow. Dad. This is only the most awkward conversation we’ve ever had. This is worse than when you taught me about the birds and the bees. Wait…Did you just call mom hot? Oh my God…are you going to have this gem of a speech with Liv, too? Please tell me I’m not the only one getting scarred for life.”
“Of course not, Penny. Mike is going to university with you two. Olivia won’t be sleeping around when her boyfriend is there. Not that I think you will sleep around. But there are temptations and some guys will be attracted to you and want to get in your pants…this isn’t going where I wanted to take it…oh boy.”
“Oh dear God…Dad STOP. Mom, save me…Dad’s brain is broken.”
“Penny, this is why your father isn’t allowed to give toasts at parties. Did you know that I was well into maternity clothing before your dad even realized I was pregnant. He asked if I wanted a gym membership. He might be a dork but he’s not a complete idiot.”
Penny looked at us with a look of terror on her face.
“Look, Penny. We have always known you would do amazing things with your life. You are going to MEDICAL school. That is a huge accomplishment and we are so proud. We want you to succeed in school and your father just isn’t good at saying that.”
“I guess I still don’t get what you guys are saying…but whatever. You guys are just getting senile.”
I looked at my daughter and fought back tears.
“Penny. I love you and Olivia very much. I would never wish you away or trade you for a different life. I wanted to be an astronaut. I knew I wanted this when I was 9 and saw a space shuttle launch. I got a technology degree. I joined the military right after college so I could reach that dream. Then I learned I was pregnant. I gave that all up for you girls. I don’t want you to end up in that place even though I have always loved you and your sister.”
Penny realized what we were getting at after that. We dropped it and went on with breakfast as usual. Penny told us all about what she plans to specialize in — surgery. I know she will do everything she wants and more.
I realized that we WOULDN’T be having this talk with Olivia.
It’s not that we love her less or want less for her but I think we’ve always known she wasn’t Penny. Penny was going to do great things. She does whatever she sets her mind to doing. She wants to be a doctor. She’s going to be a doctor.
Olivia is different. She’s ok being a starving artist. I know one day she’ll be the stay-at-home-mom that I wasn’t. She’ll love it and flourish.
Olivia doesn’t need this talk. Penny does.
Later that night Olivia and I had a girl’s night out.
We went to a Karaoke bar and had a blast. Perhaps I had a bit much to drink but I was heckling the singers when Olivia looked at me and smiled.
“Come on, Mom. Let’s get up there next!”
“Oh jeez, Liv…really? That’s a huge mistake!”
It was probably the wine that got me up there with her.
I screeched my heart out with my daughter.
Her voice was brilliant. I didn’t even know the words. I couldn’t even read the words on the prompter! They were totally blurry. I’m sure it’s just old age. No other reason…
Soon I loosened up and really got into the song. The crowd cheered “Encore!” but I KNOW it was not for me!
We chose to sing Rascal Flatts “My Wish.” I meant every word for both of my girls.
In just a few months they would be leaving to start their own lives. I chose not to think about it. Right now, I will live in this moment with my daughters and I will be happy.