By 9 p.m. Thursday, I had not a drop of inspiration for my newspaper column, due at 9 a.m. the next morning. Then, a snippet from a conversation that night carried the article –all she said was, “And we have graduation parties next weekend…” Then it hit me. I was looking for a way to share Maya Angelou’s quote about focusing on what you love, and doing it well, and realized it was the the perfect news for any new graduate; and for the Moms, like me, who are saying goodbye to preschool for the last time. We need something hopeful in response to the sadness we feel for the years we have left behind.
So at midnight, the house finally quiet, I began to write. I finished by 2 a.m. Friday morning, and checked for edits at 8 a.m. before sending the final copy to my editor. Then, I got my little preschooler ready and took him off to school for his last day of preschool. Here’s my recent newspaper column for the Suburban News Publication.
Spring is that season we associate with new beginnings. Yet, it is primarily a time of endings.
The flowering of the crabapple trees heralds graduation — whether it is from colleges or preschools. Time is moving. Lives will change and familiar faces and places will be banished from our established daily routines.
This migration affects everyone, from the grocery store that looses its high school senior grocery baggers to the preschoolers who migrate to the public school system. Spring means life changes everywhere for everyone.
We’re careful to take snapshots of the faces that mean the most to our hearts. We promise “never to forget,” to “stay in touch,” while we exchange e-mail addresses and post notes on our Facebook walls.
We do forget. This is unintentional, of course. Our lapses are merely a byproduct of the new lives we have stepped into; we make friends with new faces, we have new routines and divergent pathways unfold in front of us.
We have new choices to make; and suddenly we seek advice from new sources — people who know what we’re going through now. This allows us to form bonds quickly with people we barely knew a month ago.
But before the new friendships are made, there is that awkward, uncomfortable transition phase. The part where one foot is stuck behind, as in cement, in the old life, while the other foot is stretched forward, ready to leap into the new world. Except, there is nothing solid there to form a sure footing — yet.
In his book, Stress and Mental Health of College Students, M. V. Landow found that students rate moving away to college as being more stressful than severe traumatic events they experienced within the same year. For many, it’s the first day of high school or middle school that creates the trauma. For me, it will be that day this fall when I send my last boy to kindergarten.
We naturally just want life to revert back to the way it was; when we were so comfortable, life was predictable, and familiar faces dotted our view. Yet this life of certainty never really existed. Just as we have become unaware that the Earth is constantly spinning on its axis, we forget that our lives run like a river, constantly flowing form one phase to the next. The only constant is change.
In the face of so much uncertainty, there is one way we can carve out some power and comfort for ourselves. We can create rules, or specific constants, that we can carry through our lives, regardless of where we spend our days, and with whom. Mother Teresa has a great rule, and it’s one that I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if you stole: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.”
It’s a remarkable feeling to remember that we do have the power to make choices, and we are not victims of transition and change. Life is not happening to us; we are creating our life all day long. We need constructive life long rules to get us through life’s transitions.
Another rule to incorporate is Maya Angelou’s wisdom: Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you. All the other tangible rewards will come as a result.