Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

 ~ Mark Twain

I can’t think of a better quote to wrap up our daughter’s graduation from middle school this week. I never thought I’d be this emotional about an 8th grade commencement, but I am. I still look at her like she’s 5, we snuggle like she’s 2, and she doesn’t hate me yet, most days. I just can’t imagine our home without her in 4 short years…

There is something rather special about an 8th grade graduation. Some people deem it unnecessary, some laugh at the idea while others like me look at it as a “test run” for high school graduation. I’ve actually been prepping for this day since our daughter’s first “real” graduation from “Little Bugs” class at a local gym when she was 18 months-old. The teachers lined up the wobbly toddlers, painted their hands for memory prints on colored construction paper and gave each a handmade purple graduation cap. Most of the kids tossed the hats off immediately, our daughter ate the tassel. They waddled around for photos as the moms and dads cried tears of laughter, joy and pride. Then we went to breakfast and ate waffles, never in a million years realizing we’d be sitting here 12 years later prepping for this same precious child to walk down the aisle out of middle school and into the halls of high school.


The first half of her 8th grade year I looked at her and thought to myself, “…there is no way this kid is ready for high school, she’s barely hit puberty, she’s still a baby, she’s so naive, she’s never going to survive.” But this Spring semester everything changed. She has had more challenges and obstacles thrown at her both physically and mentally than any 13 year-old deserves. But the beauty of these moments is getting to watch her handle each and every one of those curve balls with ease, confidence and true grace. I look at her differently now and know in my heart I have nothing to worry about as she bridges into high school.

Her room is full of motivational quotes, her phone scattered with inspirational messages, her journal full of dreams and goals most adults have never thought about. And she’s only 13. And she’s going to be fine. In fact, I know in my heart this kid will be more than fine. It’s me who won’t be fine because I know in a small way she doesn’t need me anymore. She’s ready, without holding my hand as she waddles down the aisle, without needing a wink or a nod from me…she’s pulling up her anchor and setting sail into the unknown, uncertain walls of the next four years.

So I’m ready, after years of preparation, to sit and watch our daughter proudly graduate from 8th grade. And I’ll no doubt sob, but I’ll be ok, because in my heart and deep within my soul I know this beautiful, courageous little girl is more than ready to take on the world, propelled forward one wave at a time…to explore, dream and discover.