I know we raise our children to release them in the end, but will I be ready to say goodbye when it’s time? Every milestone in their life brings us closer to that moment, but this final year of high school brought it directly into view. I knew it was soon, but it was still strange to see goodbye staring at me—every day a bit closer.

When she passed her driver’s test and waved her new license in the air, I could see it approaching. Independence took a big step in her life and the goodbye did too. I didn’t realize before how closely goodbye follows independence, but it’s right on its heels.

This was my eldest, so it was a new feeling for me. Pride for her and her hard work, yet a growing realization that the next stage of life was around the corner.

Was I ready? Was she? Was our family ready to say goodbye to being a group of five? Only four for family movie nights, four at the dinner table, four in our pew at church?

This isn’t goodbye, not yet.

Soon she had a job with more hours which kept her busy, tired, happy, and away from home more than ever before. Yet another step in the growing-up process. Greater independence attached to a paycheck and a new person to answer to. Not a sad moment by any means, but another page turned in the growing-up book.

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This isn’t goodbye. Not yet.

Soon the low rumble of the new-to-her car complete with a few quirks left the yard . . . without any need for permission or a co-pilot. A giant step in moving on. Owning wheels moves the hand of independence closer, and although I loved watching her try her wings, there is no going back now. I don’t want to stop the inevitable, but I might need more time.

College admission forms and scholarship applications spread across the table as she stared at her future path. It’s almost here.

We talked and planned for it because we didn’t want to stop it, so we cheered, encouraged, and shared the excitement because it’s a season of growth and dreams coming true.

Another step closer, but it isn’t goodbye . . . yet.

A diploma and a graduation cap complete with the I made it! smile of relief and joy as she walked across the stage with an invisible audience. Graduation in the midst of a pandemic was a shove to mature a bit faster—putting the world and its needs ahead of your own hopes and dreams can do that. It wasn’t the original plan, but gracefully she moved forward yet again, and so did the goodbye.

Graduation was the final checkmark in the milestone count down. The goodbye was so close we could almost touch it, but not quite.

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More college prep, e-mails, phone calls, and forms with fees. Decisions, plans, and dreams moving us closer to the goal.

It’s hard to ignore the goodbye now because we trip on it every time we enter her room and maneuver around the open suitcase and other college necessities growing in a pile.

Goodbye has a date and a plan now. The countdown has begun and soon goodbye will be knocking on the door, and she is ready and waiting like an excited teen on prom night.

This isn’t goodbye . . . yet.

Plans are finalized and suitcases packed, squished, and packed again. Lists and last-minute things to remember cover the dresser and her mind.

Today is the day. Today I have to let goodbye in the door as my baby walks out.

This is the moment we prepared for, and she’s ready.

It’s time to say goodbye.

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It’s meant to be, and we all know what an amazing step this is. I wouldn’t change it even if I could . . . well, except for one little thing.

“See you later!” I say with a squeezing hug and my stored-up tears.

This isn’t goodbye, not yet. Thanksgiving isn’t far away.

Tanya Teichroeb

Tanya is a wife to a wonderful man and mother to three precious children in northern British Columbia. Tanya is learning to look for the good in the hardships and the beauty in sharing her experiences. In her spare time Tanya enjoys coffee, reading, gardening, and silence. You can follow her at https://www.facebook.com/TeensandCoffeeBeansbyTanyaTeichroeb/