For those of you still on the other side of that mystery, knowing that on the first day you cradled that little one in flannel, that you’ll have to give him up someday. Not knowing what that could possibly be like — and pushing it down, and back out of your mind, because there are more pressing things to deal with today. The daily meal, the bills to be paid, the socks that need cleaned… push that away, who wants to deal with those dark thoughts?
I will tell you that after crossing over that bridge yesterday afternoon, as our oldest son graduated from high school — it is exhilarating...
Just as it was when they took their first step, and you cheered them on — this will be the same way for you too. Because I know you love your little ones as much as I do, and there is nothing you want more for them than the joy of achievement, commaderie, and forgive the repeat of this word — but the exhilaration of the entire day.
There are lots of details to keep you focused on practicalities, and away from the dark emotions. When when mom tells you about the experience of getting that one letter, that the social studies book has yet to be returned or there will be no diploma, you cringe right along with her. Or if the service hour form must be updated, or the hours won’t count, you learn. And you check your own records. So many details to keep you focused.
There are lots of graduation “parties.” Yes, there is cake and juice and dip — but don’t think of them as parties. They are information gathering spots. And a chance for you to build a cocoon of support.
In the weeks leading up to this big, big day, we have been surrounded by the families of his peer group. Having no time for anything or anyone else, but him, his friends, and his parents. We’ve become a close group, hoping to party to party, with the same exact group of people. Literally seeking each other out to bounce off what is happening in our lives, with college admittance processes, making sure it sounds the same way at their house — and what do they think of this? Searching out the parents who have done it before for their insights. Please, gather as much information as you can… And share all that you’re learning, and be responsive to changing your ideas.
It’s easier now — remember when they were babies, and you were afraid to ask? Afraid of so much — and so many questions, and you mostly figured it out on your own.
Time moves faster now, and you can’t afford to figure it out on your own — there’s too much at stake. Actively ask questions, and have lots of dinners and coffees and chats with your kid’s parents’ friends. Talk a lot.
Secretly, we know that as our household begins to change too much, we know we have each other. The parents — we’re all in the same boat with the exact same emotions — that will change with every point of this journey. The exhilaration we feel on graduation day will shift, I’m guessing a little downwardly this fall as he steps out of the house into his own new world. God help us as the family dynamics shift and change.
Note to self — keep having the dinners, the coffees and the talks. Those parents are now your lifeline…