From birth, parents check off each anticipated milestone. First burp. First smile. First step and so on. There’s a mental checklist we all tick off and keep watch for. Miss a milestone and the worry radar begins. As the children age, the milestones come further and further apart but remain part of the family’s fabric of life.Until it was impending, I never realized how big this week’s milestone truly is. Kate is leaving the nest as it were.With so much focus on Robbie these last six months, we’ve not managed to celebrate her big achievements during this time. We were fortunate to be there for entire graduation weekend which started the clock running.With some six weeks to enjoy the last extended time we would have with her, we had plans to do stuff from movies to Mets games. Unfortunately, chemo and the current infection derailed most of those plans although we did enjoy our time together.Yesterday, she loaded the last of her stuff into her new car (one of her own personal milestones) and headed south. There’s a ton of things she left behind to be shipped off once she finds a place of her own so reminders abound of her presence. Still, as we stood there in the kitchen, it was mixed emotions for all three of us. She wished we had more time, or that he was out before she left. We wished we could see her off to that first day of work much as did for the first day of pre-school.Robbie was still about one so Kate must have been around three. We wanted to go out for dinner and picked an Italian restaurant we had never been to. It was far fancier than we expected but they provided us with a highchair for her and we ate without incident. One couple was leaving and paused at the table to commend the children for their behavior, saying we must be doing something right.All along we’ve more or less downplayed our role in Kate’s upbringing, ascribing her accomplishments as the result of genetics and her just being a good kid. I recognize now that our influence is heavily marked on her (not entirely, she’s still messy) and she truly is an amalgam of both of our personalities. Our role modeling must have been studied carefully because she’s turned out to be independent and on her way to success in her chosen field.Monday morning, at 7:45 a.m., she will arrive at her place of employment and begin the next phase of her life. From that moment on, she will have achieved financial and personal independence from her parents, another parental milestone that crept up on us all too quickly.We miss her already.