15 MPH and That’s Ok

A little over eighteen years ago, my wife and I drove home from Women’s Hospital in Houston, Texas with our first born. She was wrapped carefully in the carseat, just having been born only two days before. I was a first-time father, with all the nervousness and apprehension of a goat.  I remember the honks and jeers I received from drivers behind me as I sheepishly sped at no more than 15 miles an hour in a 35 mph zone.

I just wanted to get my little girl home safe that day.

Tomorrow we will put MacKenna back in the car and this time it will be to send her off to college, to the big world and far from home. I’ve been thinking a lot about this upcoming drive and her journey beyond her mom and dad.  I don’t think we are ever fully prepared to send our kids off into the world.  You hope that as a parent you’ve said enough of the right things. You pray that you parented her well enough and with the right skills.  You question the job you did.

So in a last ditch effort to help ensure I left her with some of the things I hold close to my heart, I put together a box of items to remind her of what matters to me.  I presented her with those last night. Here were the contents:

1. A Pair of Converse All-Stars
Somethings never go out of style.  Chucks remind us that the best way to exist is to be yourself.  Life will change all around you, staying true to your roots is timeless. On the back of each shoe, I also wrote the latitude and longitude of our home in Austin.  Symbolically, I wanted her to know that those shoes can always lead her back home.

2. Picture of my Grandmother
My grandmother has always been a symbol of strength, perseverance and love. As a young person, her example and actions helped define my idea of what a woman should be.  And that is anything she wants. Gender should not define anyone, only your actions and how you effect change around you.  I have kept that picture on me for many years.  It is now MacKenna’s.

3. Can of Pepper Spray
Ok, nothing tender or nostalgic here.  But if the opportunity presents itself (god forbid), point it into the whites of his eyes.

4. Paring Knife
When MacKenna was very little, we used to love to sit in the front yard and eat a pear.  She loved for me to cut slices of delicious fruit. A simple act of kindness for someone else. I am confident she’ll use it for others.

5. Heart Necklace
If you are ever stuck questioning truth, check with your heart. It never lies and will always provide you with answers to some of the hardest questions life throws you. The key is not to stray to far from it and to agree to listen to it.

6. A $20 Bill
The bill with note was to remind my daughter that it is not the amount of money that you will make in life, it’s the integrity, honesty and hard work that goes into every penny of it.

7. Pearls
When we visited China to adopt our son, we bought MacKenna a strand of pearls for graduation. A pearl is magic. Under just the right conditions, a small grain of sand lands in the comfort and security of an oyster’s ‘arms’. There over time it is nurtured, loved and protected. What was once a tiny grain of sand, emerges as one of life’s most beautiful gifts. MacKenna is that pearl.

I am so proud and excited for my girl.  A new and wonderful journey begins, one with tons of ups, downs and adventures.  As it should be. I am more than confident she is ready to begin.  However, I am driving.  And if I choose to drive a little slower up to school  please excuse me one more time. A couple extra hours with MacKenna would be just alright with me.

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Go get em, Sagie…

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