The Final Countdown

I could consider it ironic that my husband and daughter used to sing Europe’s “The Final Countdown” to mark the beginning or end of events. It was one of Bill’s favorite 80s songs and the minute Jordan heard it, she fell in love. They’ve always shared quirky things like that. And back in the day, I laughed and even awaited the chorus when it was almost time for vacation or for a visit from family or something like that. But as it turns out, the 80s are gone and so is the nostalgic flavor of this particular song.

As we navigate Jordan’s final year of high school, Bill and I are bombarded with reminders that it’s only 14 months, 13 months…a cute countdown when awaiting Christmas but, it this case, it’s a sad reminder of the end of something beautiful. And I get that right now Jordan doesn’t get it. But it doesn’t make it hurt any less or feel any less brutal when the heaviness of those words hangs in the room.

It’s not that we’re not excited for her. Of course we are.

But the countdown makes it official. The countdown forces me to hit rewind, over and over, stealing glances of her childhood, trying to remember if we got it all right. And even more than that, wondering, did we do enough to wrap her tightly in the knowledge that we loved her in a way that we’ll never love another. And will that knowledge bring with it the confidence she needs to march on successfully without hand-holding or lecturing.

This morning she breezed out the door, peeking back around the corner to remind us, as if she had to, that today’s her last first day of school (required school, she reiterated). I snapped a couple of photos, like I’ve done every year of her school career, and fought back the rush of tears, offering a smile instead.

“Don’t get all emotional and parental, Mom,”Jordan half-joked.

“I’ll write about it,” I replied.

She laughed. We all said “I love you,” and the door closed behind her. I didn’t rush to the kitchen window, as I’ve done every year since she was six, to take a photo of her walking away. I didn’t ask her to text me once she arrived at school safe and sound. I didn’t remind her to grab breakfast or eat a good lunch, the word “protein” was never uttered from my lips. I didn’t tell her to be safe. I didn’t ask when she’d be back home.

Thirty minutes later a sarcastic text reading “Yay School” pops up on my phone.  And I know she’s arrived, safe and sound.3-2-1, lift off…

Maria Riley is a Writer and Social Media Consultant. A Southern transplant now raising a teenage daughter in New York City, she writes, blogs and tweets from a new New Yorker’s perspective. You can follow her adventures and connect on Twitter @LifeofRileyNYC. She lives on Roosevelt Island with her husband and daughter.