It’s that time of year when your social media feeds are filled with photos of smiling, gown-clad graduates tossing their tasseled caps high into the air and beaming brightly behind lettered sweatshirts. Proud parents boast of their seniors’ accomplishments, their readiness, their plans, and occasionally their own heartache. This is what happens; what they hoped would happen. Pass the champagne!

Only this time, it’s you. That’s your cap-tossing, sweatshirt-sporting daughter (your first born, your baby), and that picture is your wildest dream and your worst nightmare fused into one stolen, high-resolution moment in time.

You think of all the other moments — the trips, the tears, the cuddles; your fights, your TikTok videos, your visits to the ER; her first tooth, her first steps, the first time she drove away without you — and it’s impossible to fathom that your precious little hatchling, the one you rocked and held and protected from cars and clowns and countless other dangers for the last 6,570-plus days of your life, is not only capable of leaving the nest but is actually leaving the nest.

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photo credit: susie pollard