I sat in the rigid, worn-out desk in my older son’s senior English class. How many years had it been since I was a senior, ‘tween high school and college? I hesitate to say that it has been decades!
Feeling a bit melancholy, I looked around the room noticing many parents I have known since their kids were wee ones. I find myself incredulous that our kids are on the verge of leaving home and high school.
Last night was the last “back-to-school night” I will ever attend for my son, John.
My eyes fill with tears as I type these words.
It has been said to enjoy every moment with one’s children because they grow up so fast. Honestly, I believe that the years between 0-5 years pass very slowly, as is critical for the development of the young child. But, once they enter kindergarten, the time passes at virtually breakneck speed.
It seems like yesterday, that I cradled the egg-headed, newborn baby in my arms. Spending far too long ‘tween labor and birth, John’s head was quite elongated. The nurse assured us that it would be sweet and round in no time.
Thankfully, it was. If not, he’d experience great difficulty balancing his mortar board on his head when he graduates in June!
So many memories pass through my minds-eye of all the years in the interim. Similar to childbirth, I seem to recall only the positive experiences.
While I reminisce, John is most likely feeling the typical angst of a high school senior. Surveys show that they are “scared sick about going off to college.” They worry about the unknown. Who will be my roommate? Will I make friends? Am I smart enough for the college I choose?
John doesn’t show it. But moms just seem to sense these things. My son is living both in his present and his future.
He is immersed in college applications, a senior year robotics project and asking to participate in activities that just a short time ago would be easily rejected.
“My friends and I want to backpack through Europe this summer, Mom.”
My immediate response was “no!” But, then I remembered enjoying the same awesome experience after my freshman year of college. I was still 18 years-old. John will be 18 in January.
I’m not Jewish but all I could think was “Oy Vey! How am I going to deal with this one?” I told him to talk to his dad and then we’d discuss it together.
I find myself thinking, he’ll be gone next year at this time. We’ve laid the foundation. Many decisions are now his to make.
BUT, not the trip to Europe. The almighty dollar provides parents with power. Funding the trip would require our financial assistance.
John needs to work this summer to increase his spending money for college. There will be time for a trek through Europe. The opportunity is yet to come.
In a nutshell, this parent is caught ‘tween the excitement I feel for my son’s future and the sadness of knowing that next year at this time, he’ll most likely be sitting in a far more comfortable desk in a college classroom ‘tween 2 possibly new friends.
For the meantime, I plan to enjoy each moment. As the nurse who assured us about John’s contorted head-shape on the day of his birth wisely said to us:
“Every stage is the best stage.”
Even when we find ourselves ‘tween elation and heartache.
Wishing each of you a lovely day with your children, no matter what the age and stage,
Catie (Cate Pane)