It's a fine line, don't you think?
Anyway, it was a lighthearted conversation and not particularly angst-filled so at one point I leaned in close to Annie and teasingly said, "Do you know who my most dramatic child is?"
Without blinking or missing a beat, Annie looked me straight in the eye and said flatly...
She's catching on, that girl. I think she's gonna be okay.
The last time I felt really sad about one of my kids taking the next inevitable step in life was when Timothy was graduating from pre-K. He was my baby then and we had been trying for over a year to have another baby so I had a lot of emotions about seeing my littlest taking the next big leap forward. But considering that was 10 years ago now, and given the fairly significant extenuating circumstances, that should give you some indication of my approach to seeing my kids moving upward and onward.
I have never cried a single tear when one of my kids started preschool, Kindergarten or any other grade.
Even when we forced Jack and Tim to change schools in the 8th and 5th grade respectively, and they were upset and nervous and sad about the change, I sent them off to their new school that first day with nary a tear.
When we had our baby, little Annie, change schools a month into her Kindergarten year I dropped her off with butterflies in my stomach but dry eyes.
Now, lest you think I'm cold-hearted, it's not that I didn't have heartfelt, conflicted emotions around all of those events. I prayed mightily for my boys that our decision to change schools would prove wise in the long run. I watched my little girl walk into that new, big school and part of me wanted to run after her and whisk her right back home with me.
But, at the end of the day, as much as there is always part of me that wishes I could slow the hands of time, there is a bigger part of me that sees how ready they are to take that next step. Sometimes more than ready. And life has taught me that holding them back would not only be futile but potentially disastrous. Because my experience is that when a kid is ready for more, leaving him in a place that is stifling him is only asking for trouble.
Anyone who knows me well knows I have many sad feelings about our first child leaving the nest. I don't think anyone can blame me for feeling nostalgic and wistful about such a major life event. But when people talk about tears at graduation or when we drop him off at college, I honestly cannot predict what will happen. I keep telling Superdad to be prepared for anything. I could sail through his graduation with smiles and cheers and nothing more than tremendous pride (and relief), or I could be a torrent of embarrassing, ugly, snot-filled sobbing.
I wish I knew.
I do know though that he is ready. Not ready for every single thing that is going to come his way from this point forward. None of us are ever wholly ready for every eventuality life can throw at us. But he is ready to be done with high school. He is ready to test those wings out in bigger skies, with a smaller safety net. He's starting to chafe against the restraints that are a necessary part of keeping high schoolers in line and teachers sane. And he's ready to trade those restraints for the responsibility that comes with owning your own decisions and your mistakes.
I have seen a lot of kids making some questionable choices as they approach the finish line and as an adult it is so hard not to want to scream at them and ask, "Why are you doing this? You are almost done! Can't you just get through a few more weeks??"
They are acting like children because they are dying not to be anymore.
They remind me of race horses penned into the starting gate. The agitation is palpable. They are straining at the bit and the reins attempting to keep them contained. They prance in place, knowing they can't move forward yet but all of their pent up energy won't allow them to be still. All of their attention and focus is centered on the freedom that they know is coming but is not here yet.
Which is why I don't know that there will be any tears at my son's graduation.
I will be proud and exuberant and yes, a little relieved...but I don't know that I will be sad.
He's so ready.
And as much as I love that boy and will miss a thousand things about having him in our home on a daily basis.
I really am excited for him.
P.S. So, just hold on a few more weeks, son... You are almost there. Just coast to the finish line, Buddy. We are rooting for you all the way.