South Charlotte

Will I be ready when my daughter leaves home?

There are many milestones in life and turning 18 is certainly one of the most anticipated.

As my daughter recently celebrated her 18th birthday, I realized what a major turning point this event is for both of us.

When I found out I was pregnant with Jazlyn, a bond instantly formed that can never be broken. I was honored to raise a spirited and precocious child who had no boundaries in her capacity to give and receive love.

She constantly challenged me with her endless curiosity and thirst for life. Jazlyn has always been my barometer for the truth and I appreciate her candor.

Possessing compassion and sensibilities well beyond her years, my only child has been one of my greatest teachers. She unknowingly pushes me to be a better human being every day.

As a single parent, we have passed through many important and humorous stages together: from Barney and Barbies, to hairdos and heart throbs to driving and dating.

With devotion, Jazlyn has helped care for my mother, Rose Beebe, 88, who has Alzheimer's. We have adopted the residents at Mom's memory care facility as our own family, and I have enjoyed watching Jazlyn offer them her unconditional love.

I cannot believe how quickly this time has passed. And now, my little girl is a young woman who is poised to go out in the world and make her mark.

After leaving a public school that didn't meet her needs in her junior year to home-school, Jazlyn is completing her senior year at Northwest School of the Arts, a performing arts magnet school that allows her to pursue her passion for dance.

She is thrilled to have recently been accepted into the two colleges where she is interested in pursuing a dance degree, East Carolina University and UNC Greensboro. I am proud of the challenges she has overcome and the work she has done to get to this point. She is excited about her future and the new possibilities that await her.

Yet, as we commemorate another milestone, there is an underlying hint of melancholy for us both.

It hit me that my nest will be empty before long, and Jazlyn realizes her pillar of support won't be directly at her side much longer.

I find her coming to me, putting her arms around me and saying, "Mom, I don't want to leave you." I fight back the tears as we embrace and assure her that when the time comes, she will be ready.

But will I?

My life profoundly changed when I brought her home 18 years ago, and it will drastically change when she leaves home later this year to embark on her exciting, new journey.

Jazlyn has been my life's work this far, and I realize that it is time for me to begin preparing for this transition now.

I've done my work as a parent and it is time to let go a little in this beautiful mother/daughter dance.

Until the time comes for us both to spread our wings, we celebrate Jazlyn's passage into adulthood. Here's to buying lottery tickets, voting for president and going out to a club to boogie down with her friends.

Editor's note: In Lisa Moore's column, "Generations," she writes about the challenges and healing she experiences as a member of the Sandwich Generation: those caring for a parent and a child.