This time of year the light shifts and fades to sunset long after dinner. It feels like we can linger longer over a slower pace and stretch out with our dog, who loves the sunshine.

Our family is facing a similar shift as our eldest daughter prepares to graduate high school and fly the nest. Over the years, I have watched students and families navigate this time, never knowing how it would feel in my heart —

until I now stand on the threshold of a place we have never been together as mother and daughter. How could I know who I would be at this time? I am changed from four years ago, and so is she.

I told a friend that I never know how I feel until I write about it. Much like these roses blooming at different stages, each of my 3 kids have matured at their own pace and rate. Yes — I can tell you when they first spoke (or stayed silent) or walked (or did not care to!), and here we are as our home dynamics will soon change. I arrange the roses, prune them a little, change out the water, rearrange.

We are powerless to change the past. And pausing this very day is like holding water in the hands. So, we can honor this time of life and this month ahead — and honor the bloom — and not apologize for tears or contemplation. Not apologize for the meandering journey she had taken to arrive here and now, and realize my exhausted, scattered, fleeting mind is thinking of my family instead of a literary analysis research paper.

I am grateful for the tenderness of this season.