I don’t know how it’s possible that I’ve gotten here already. But I’m here. It’s time for my baby to graduate from elementary school.

It feels like only months ago that the nurse at the hospital said goodbye leaving us holding a day old baby with only our wits and love to go on. I remember thinking it was almost absurd to just hand us over our baby for the next 18 years. We didn’t have any real experience or training to do this job! After looking at each other and noticing a similar deer in the headlights expression on my husband’s face we left the hospital and have been learning and doing our best ever since.

13 and a half years later the three of us are reaching one of the biggest milestones in our journey with the end of elementary school near. I say “our journey” because while of course this event is mostly about our daughter we have big feelings about it too (and arguably we have contributed to her graduating quite a bit, thank you very much!).

My daughter’s graduation session was the perfect way to celebrate all of her accomplishments and mark this pivotal transition in her life. She seemed to be rather ambivalent about the session when we first brought it up but I’ve learned that at this age ambivalence is on the positive end of the spectrum of possible emotions.

As I watched Sara photograph my baby-turned-young-woman (from afar where she couldn’t see me, because eye rolls aren’t flattering in grad photos) I was struck by how grown up she suddenly looked to me and felt that deer in the headlights feeling that I’d had so many years before returning. A mixture of pride, awe, and an oh-my-goodness-I’m-not-ready-for-this-yet kind of feeling. As she chatted with Sara and laughed and posed clearly coming into her own and loving the experience (regardless of what she’ll admit!) I stood watching with tears in my eyes.

With the end of elementary school our daughter is about to embark on a new stage in her life. A stage she’s excited and ready for but also having been there myself one that I know she has no real idea of what it entails. And that’s okay. It’s the unknown in life and how we learn as we grow through it where we find out that we are capable of anything. I may not feel ready for the next stage but she clearly is.

I know there will be many incredible memories she will make over the next few years and surely many, many challenges. Throughout all of the unknowns coming up I hope she always remembers how she felt that day amongst the blossoms: beautiful, confident, and capable. When I think back to how I felt at her age I know it can be really hard to believe those things when times are hard so I am so glad we took the time one Spring evening to capture her strength and beauty. As much as I love having beautiful photos of this important milestone from her childhood I think it’s even more important that she will have them for herself.