When I was growing up you graduated one time - from high school. That was the first time you got to wear a cap and gown, and if you were lucky, it wasn't the last.
But these days graduations take place at every transition point in the educational process. My older daughter has just achieved one of these graduation milestones. She graduated this past week from elementary school.
It wasn't until she excitedly rushed to meet me at the door one night after work with her cap and gown in hand that I realized just what a turning point this is in the life of our family. In one year she has gone from a little girl to a young woman who is quickly approaching my height and will clearly overtake me in no time.
But beyond the physical changes, she is also changing the way she approaches the world around her. She is far more independent, capable and confident than she was just a few months ago. I am constantly amazed when she takes charge of a situation with no help from me -- a school project, making herself the occasional meal or assisting her younger sister.
At a recent parent meeting at the middle school she will attend next year, administrators told us when we brought our children to school the first day we were to simply drop them at the door. We were specifically told not to walk them to their classrooms. This is middle school they said, it is time to let them fly.
So as my firstborn child made her first I hope of several walks in a cap and gown, it was more than just symbolic for me. It was an ending and a beginning. It was the end of the little girl years, and the beginning of a world where I truly believe for her the sky is the limit.
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including two on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.