My youngest daughter surprised us last week when she was asked to be a speaker at her high school’s baccalaureate celebration and didn’t tell us. We didn’t find out until we watched the virtual ceremony. As you can probably imagine, we were bursting with pride and full of emotion. So, it wasn’t until I watched it again later, separated from the initial excitement of the moment, that I was really able to hear what she had to say.
Seeing as this was probably one of the only important speeches she has ever made that I didn’t edit, I was floored by her ability to weave tender and humorous moments into a narrative that not only brought me to tears, but made my heart swell as she evoked milestone memories and shared life lessons she had learned from us and her teachers.
She talked about when her father taught her how to ride a bike at six-years-old, recalling when he finally let go of the handlebars and allowed her to cruise down the street by herself. She remembered “that hot flush of freedom I felt when he let go, and I was finally riding solo.”
She said she had similar emotions when he taught her how to drive a car—the push and pull of needing your parents and at the same time wanting to be independent. She described it as “my hands clenching the steering wheel, his the roof handle.”
“Our parents are our first teachers. They teach us to speak so we can be heard, to walk so we can chase our dreams, and to fall down so we can get right back up,” she said.
And then, she thanked me.
“Now my mom is my rock. She holds my hand through every failure and cheers me one through every success,” she said. “Mom, you always tell me you want to be me when you grow up, but little do you know how your support means everything to me and how you have helped me achieve some of my greatest aspirations.“
It’s true, I do always say that I want to be just like Chloe when I grow up. That’s because our children reflect the best parts of us. They are newer, better models of who we are, shaped by DNA, education, community…and yes, by us, their parents.
Reflecting on her speech now with some hindsight, I am floored by her wisdom, awed by her confidence, and feel a certain pride in having some small hand in creating this lovely human. And yes, my answer is still the same…I want to be just like Chloe when I grow up.
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.