Last night J. and I took out two oldest children out to dinner to celebrate M.'s graduation from high school. (I wish I could take credit for the idea of going on a date with our older children, but must give credit to Lisa at A Bushel and a Peck for the wonderful idea.) M. decided she didn't really want to have a graduation party, but going out to a nice dinner sounded appealing.
A. stayed home with all the littles, but invited a friend to have a sleepover so she would have an extra pair of hands. M. chose a tapas restaurant near us and the evening was so nice we were able to walk there and have dinner outside. It was lovely. It also was lovely to be able to enjoy dinner with just our older children. Let's just say it's a completely different dynamic when the youngest person at the table is 16. I think J. even gave some inspirational words of wisdom to make it seem more graduation-y.
I still find it a little surprising that M. is old enough to be done with high school, but at the same time, she has been mature for so long that there is also a small part of me that is surprised that it is happening only now. I'm excited to see what she does in the future. And I've been OK with the thought of her living on campus... which I know is shocking to everyone. But, she will be fairly close and I imagine I will be seeing her now and then. That's not to say I won't miss her. I will. But I also don't feel as if I am somehow losing her either. M. has proven herself to be mature and responsible, able to handle college classes, and loves her family. Sometimes when a child goes off to college it's with the goal of getting away from the family and having a chance to become a different person. While M. will continue to mature and grow and develop new interests, I don't see her as biding her time until she can finally get out from the yoke of her family and do what she wants. I would feel much differently about her going off to college if I felt that is what was going on.
And (because I can't help myself), since we have always homeschooled, I have been blessed with the opportunity to spend so much more time with my daughter than I would have had otherwise. All those hours she would have been away at school, I got to enjoy with her. I can honestly say I'm sending her out into the world with no regrets.