A Pack of Potential and a Cute Pair of Shoes

We are packing our fourth child, a daughter, off to college. She is a petite 4 feet 11 1/2 inch package of cuteness, wits, and energy. When Stefanie was born she came into the world smiling with the attitude “World, I will love you! And you? You will love me!” and that pretty much sums it up.

It’s not the first time she has been away. Last year in September we put her on a plane for Milan, Italy where she spent six months in a gap year participating in a faith-based program of discipleship and outreach. But this feels different. More permanent perhaps.

Stefanie has accomplished more in 19 years than many do in a lifetime. Born in Egypt, she was brought to the U.S at 4 years old when our family made the enormous move from the Middle East to a town north of Boston.  While other kids in kindergarten would come up to the teacher with lines like “Jimmy gets to sit by Susie and that’s not fair!” Stefanie would come up to the teacher and say “Miss Cassidy, those earrings look perfect with your outfit!Where on earth did you get them?” She wasn’t sucking up to the teacher, she was being herself.

In 19 years she has lived in some of the world’s best-known cities (Cairo, Boston, Phoenix, Milan, Istanbul) and learned how to negotiate the people and products in each of them. Stef was Vice President of Student Council, Prom Queen, has worked with women who were victims of human trafficking and this summer was assistant director of a student-run homeless shelter. She does all this and still looks totally put together in the process – I stand amazed.

About this time is when I should come up with the standard clichés “It seems like yesterday that she was born….Enjoy it now because you wouldn’t believe how quickly time passes” the clichés that mothers have heard or been saying since Eve. (Maybe the only mother who didn’t say that was Sarah, mother of Isaac, and that was because she was so old she couldn’t believe she was running around after a toddler under a hot, middle eastern sun.)

What I will say is this: Even though this is my fourth time of doing this it still amazes me that I have been witness to this pack of potential growing up and now launching out in a journey that will include me less and less. I have watched my others with amazement at their fortitude, their negotiation of a world less and less designed to help the young achieve their God-given potential, and their ability to continue growing and learning despite the obstacles that have come their way. And now we will send Stefanie off to the city of New York. While there will be one or many tears shed, I know she is armed with everything she needs – a big faith, a pack of potential and a whole lot of cute pairs of shoes.

Call me callous, but as the dust settles and I walk into her room, void of the energy and life that has been packed off, there will be a brief time of mourning, followed by an overwhelmingly excited thought of the redecorating possibilities for the empty space.

She packed up her potential and all she had learned, grabbed a cute pair of shoes and set out to change a few things…Leigh Standley of Curly Girl Design

15 thoughts on “A Pack of Potential and a Cute Pair of Shoes

    1. Joan – senior year is a big year! Is this the daughter that has gone to Guatemala and Haiti?
      It is fun…I’ll let you know how I survive the big day on Saturday!


      1. Yes she loved her trip to Haiti. Can’t wait to go back. What a joy to see your child grow and move beyond their own little world. Good luck Saturday!


  1. Thank you, thank you for adding so many wonderful Gardner pictures to this post Marilyn! I am with you sister-mom on the packing and farewelling of a college freshman. So much to be proud of! Another bitter-sweet moment in the parenting process that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Loved the title of this one. Love to your Stefanie and her parents at this transition time. . . Ann for all the Costers


    1. Oh MaadiAnn! Thanks so much! Where will Abby be going? Do you believe it? I still remember Doc coming and letting us know and getting all teary on him! We need to have a cup of tea together!


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