On New Year’s Eve for 2017 we are looking at the TV to count down the end of 2016. There are party goers all around whooping and yelling, Andrea and Syd are standing beside me. Ten, nine, eight…everyone is blowing horns and counting down. Seven, six, five and glasses go up in the air. Four, three, two it’s getting louder and louder….ONE!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! Everyone is toasting, hugging, laughing. I hear Happy New year over and over again. I’m hugging, hi-fiv’n folks. Andrea and I kiss. Syd comes over gives me a big ole hug, says HAPPY NEW YEAR FATHER and then steps back and adds, “Three more years.” “Huh, what’s three more years?” She looks at me and says, “Three more years” again. “I’ll be out of high school and going to college.” “OHH you’re ready to do your own thing? You ready to graduate and go to college?” Syd says, “Yup!”
Then it hit me. Syd is three years from graduation and leaving the nest. I started wondering, what will I do when I no longer have to leave the house at six in the morning and get home at six in the evening, drive 136 miles a day and spend weekends taking her to various activities? About a year ago I showed her a 2016 Dodge Viper and jokingly said, “This is our retirement car in 2020. We are going to travel the country visiting all forty nine states when you go to college.” Now, when SHE says “three years” I realize I am closer to that reality than I thought.
I have been a dad for 15 years, teaching, training, and mentoring. I have been a cook, maid and chauffeur. I have been her cheerleader and confidant and although none of these things will change, one thing will. She will spread her wings and fly away. Don’t get me wrong. I want her to grow and be independent. It was my goal from her birth to make that happen. I just didn’t realize how fast it would happen.
I reflect back to a baby picture of her that I keep in my duffel bag. She has headphones on and I am holding her while I teach her how to be a DJ. Now she is teaching me how to play Call of Duty on her PlayStation. I used to make her dinner. Now she is making her own dinner. I took her to Disney. Now she travels to Italy. I went to Ga. State University. She wants to go to MIT. The things I want her to do…she is doing!!!!
Andrea and I were talking about this when she said, “Your life has been all about raising Syd. Now that she is developing her independence, this portion of your life is coming to a close. What do you want to do?” I grew quiet and reflected, how many men can sit back and answer that question? Most fathers are providers while the mother is the nurturer. For Syd, I am both. I asked God to allow me to raise my daughter and He did. With that blessing I would learn what most women feel like when they have empty nest syndrome, so I can honestly say I have mixed emotions. You hear your child say, “Three more years” with joy and excitement while you are thinking, ”Yeah, three more” with joy and…..trepidation. On one hand you are extremely happy that your child can see their future so brightly but on the other you don’t want to let go. Not because they aren’t ready but because you aren’t. Marinate on that for a moment.
I am glad Syd said three more years with exuberance. It shows me she has no fear and I like that. She is ready to do her thing whatever that “thing” is. It also allows me time to process that I need to prepare to do something else with my time because I don’t want to be caught sitting at home with nothing to do when she leaves for a university in 2020.
“What do you want to do?” Babe, I don’t know but I have three years to prepare.