Today I hit another mile marker on the winding interstate of life. I always assumed after I blew past 16, 18 and 21 that the next meaningful number on my personal timeline would be known only by those left behind after I’d shuffled off this mortal coil. Thirty? Fifty? Retirement age? Big deal. None of them hold any special significance to me.
As it turns out, though, 40 is a biggie — even if it really has nothing to do with me.
That’s because today, in my 40th year, my daughter became a teenager.
I don’t get the impression that it makes her much difference, to be honest, and the number itself — 13 — doesn’t faze me. But the “teenager” thing gnawed just enough to get me thinking about all of my daughter’s own mile markers up to now — diapers, thumb-sucking, first words, training wheels, karate, piano, flute, sax, straight A’s — and all of the images and emotions those moments evoke solely for my wife and I.
It made me think, too, about how recent each of them seems — and how, it stands to reason, that the next moments are sure to whiz by in a flash: basketball tryouts, school play, class trip, driver’s license, first boyfriend, first dead boyfriend (fair warning, nimrods), high school graduation, college and then … then …
I don’t know. But it won’t be with us. My daughter will strike out on her own, with a stunning emotional intellect and a badass streak to boot, no doubt as ready as anyone could be to tackle this scary freaking world. But for all the support her mom and I will continue to offer — a warm bed back home, a safety net if she stumbles — she will ultimately go it alone. We all do.
Will that bother her? Not in the least.
Me? Jesus, yes.