July 5, 2002 doesn’t seem like twelve years ago. But apparently the universe marks time differently than mommies. Because according to the universe’s timetable, if 2002 was the year Older Son started kindergarten (it was, I double checked), then that makes this school year his senior year of high school. And on Wednesday, off he went, driving himself in his own car (despite my plea to drive him just for old times sake), big smile on his face, scarcely looking back. Which is exactly what my head wants for him, even if my heart disagrees.
The house quieted down earlier than normal that morning, with all three kids back to school. My mind settled on a letter which came to us parents of seniors from the 12th grade dean. Her thoughtful words spoke directly to me: “seniors are beginning to realize that moments that seemed routine are now happening for the last time and they need to soak in every one of them. Emotions can run high for seniors…”
I stopped and read that one again: emotions can run high for seniors.
You see, recently, my emotions have been running high. I’ve been on bittersweet overdrive, already thinking about how so much in the coming year will be the “last” time. Wanting to avoid an entire school year on the verge of mommy tears, I’ve been having little talks with myself. Reminding myself to enjoy what’s ahead. To savor the moments joyfully rather than wistfully. To give myself a break from nostalgizing over every little thing. Still, I cannot hide from anyone that this year will hold a mixture of emotions for this mom.
I’ve been so aware of my own feelings, that I overlooked something important: other people in my family (namely my senior), might be feeling bittersweet emotions as well. This letter reminded me that my son — and his friends — are highly aware of the significance of this year, and that they realize their time together is finite. Never far from their minds, I would guess, is the knowledge that this time next year, they will scatter across the country and start down new paths in life, without each other and all they’ve known for many, many years.
But while it’s a year of lasts in this particular season of our lives, there are still so many firsts on the horizon. And those firsts are what us parents have been training our kids for their entire lives, right? Isn’t it our goal to raise kids knowing that they will, around the “age of wisdom” (18 years), implement that wisdom and embark on their own journey? Instead of feeling that mommy melancholy, it makes so much more sense to celebrate where we are in the world right now, and to welcome with joy and gratitude all that is to come. That’s my plan, anyway. (I would also like to add what my girlfriend, also a mom of a senior, just said to me, “but it’s still okay to shed a tear now and then, right?)
Older Son, nearly 18 now, is not that small boy I left waving happily to me on the kindergarten playground one overcast morning 12 years ago. Always blazing this parenting trail for me, my firstborn is clearly ready to launch. And I have to take comfort in the fact that his dad and I have (hopefully), little by little, imparted to him what he needs to continue his journey without us in his shadow. I guess my twinge of sadness comes in knowing that soon enough, he’ll move on, still learning, growing, celebrating, making mistakes, moving forward, just without me witnessing and documenting every little milestone. Until then, I plan to soak in every moment of which I’m still a part.
So, from one Class of 2015 parent to all you others out there — and to our seniors who we love so much — here’s to a great last second week of school, and many more last weeks to come.
This post first appeared on Prayers and Piazzas. A similar post you might also enjoy is Marching Away From Me.