Saturday, August 21

She's all grown up now...

My oldest daughter Madison graduated this past June and it was incredible. Tracey was with me, and my Mom came up from Florida - it was a pretty good day. Madison is extraordinary in so many ways and I was so proud watching her receive her diploma. I smiled and cried and selfishly hoped I had something to do with her becoming such an exceptional young woman.

I wrote the following about Madi (all of her friends call her Madi) for a school project she was doing right before she graduated:

As a new father, I thought I should prepare for the worst. After all, I was well traveled and had seen quite a bit, heard plenty of parenthood stories, and took a good look at my own childhood and just knew I had to brace myself for what was to come. I shouldn't have worried so much. Madison was my first child and never what I expected. She was happy. Madison arrived smiling and seemed to have no complaints about what she found when she got here. Everything seemed to come natural to her and this didn't change when it was time to start her adventure in education.

Madison didn't seem nervous that very first day, at least not as nervous as I was, she acted as if she somehow knew it was what she was supposed to do next. So off she went. She didn't struggle to fit in or have the burden of being the most popular, she just had this natural quality of belonging. I was always proud to point out she was my daughter, always pleasant and polite with a smile on her face. She would leave effortlessly in the morning for school and come home to little sisters who adored her. She was the perfect role model for them, giving them the sense that they had nothing to worry about, good things were to come.

Family life was far from perfect, almost tragic at times, but Madison once again seemed to already know how to handle that too. When her sisters needed her, she knew what to do. She was caring and loving and filled the holes left by others. She was the playroom teacher, giving lessons to her sisters who needed to learn things if they were to survive a life full of unexpected turns. All the while, not losing herself and continuing to grow as this unique person we see today.

As Madison made her way though middle school and headed towards high school, she was able to let her sisters begin to find themselves as individuals and focus on the wonders of being a teenager and find out what kind of young woman she would become. Once again, I braced myself. I was the father of a "teenage" daughter now. Certainly this would not be easy. Madison made sure I was wrong again. She just has this way of realizing what is truly important, to her as the daughter, and to me as the father. With very few lectures or lessons learned the hard way, we managed to navigate these years successfully. I still have the pleasure of being the proud father who gets to point out that she's my daughter, always pleasant and polite with a smile on her face.

I've told Madison many times that I am jealous of her. Jealous of the rare quality she has to be comfortable with who she is and to never be afraid of new experiences, always feeling free to go after what it is she wants. It's an inner spirit or quality that's not necessarily taught, but can often be distinguished or discouraged in a person. Raising Madison and watching her mature over the last twelve years has been more about staying out of the way and allowing her to become who she is, than steering her and molding her into someone I thought she would be. I couldn't be happier with the results, or more excited about what she has to offer.

Proud Father

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