As a mother, I know that I live on borrowed time with my children. Sure, they’ll always love me and I will always be their mother, but inevitably there will come a day when their lives will be their own. With every grade that passes, every milestone reached, I watch with pride as they turn from babies to children to young adults. Preparing to watch your child put on a cap and gown and walk a path that will lead them onwards towards independence and autonomy is one of the hardest things a parent can do. How does one simply let their child go?…
YOU HAVE A CHILD WHO IS A 2015 HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE?
“Yes. I can hardly believe it. I feel like I just graduated from high school myself.”
IS THAT EXCITING FOR YOU?
“Of course. It’s been a long road, so to see it all finally come to this point is a really incredible feeling.”
I’D IMAGINE THERE ARE SOME NERVES THERE AS WELL. I KNOW FOR ME THERE WOULD BE.
“Definitely nerves. I legitimately can’t believe that my baby is turning 18. I can’t believe that he’s leaving high school. He’s driving. I look at him and I see the man that he is becoming but I also see the little boy underneath. I can close my eyes and picture his little face asking me to tie his shoe or open his juice box.”
HOW MANY KIDS DO YOU HAVE?
IS HE THE FIRST ONE TO GRADUATE?
“Yes. He’s the oldest. The first one to leave the nest.”
WHAT ARE HIS PLANS AFTER GRADUATION? IS HE GOING TO COLLEGE?
“He’s going away to college in August.”
SO HE IS LITERALLY LEAVING THE NEST. HOW ARE YOU FEELING ABOUT THAT?
“Nervous. Old (laughter). I’m worried about all the normal stuff I guess. I want him to do well. I don’t want him to party away
his college experience. I don’t want him to experience all of the negative aspects of college life. But I know he has to experience all that there is to the experience and make up his own mind about things.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE PREPARED HIM FOR THAT?
“I think we’ve done a good job. He’s a good kid. I think we taught him right from wrong. Now he’s got to go out and put everything we’ve taught him to use.”
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST POST-GRADUATION WORRY?
“I just know how different college is than it was when I was there. And I’m a worrier. I am sure I will lay awake many nights when he first starts. Is he drinking? Did he remember to set his alarm to get to class on time? Is he going to do things to fit in that he’s not really comfortable with?” I don’t want to think that he would do that. He’s smart, gets good grades, plays sports and all that, but realistically it’s always a concern when you’ve got a kid in college.”
DO YOU THINK IT WILL GET EASIER TO WATCH THEM GRADUATE ONE BY ONE NOW THAT YOU’VE BEEN THROUGH
“I don’t think it will be easier. I mean, you still deal with all the feelings and concerns and every kid is different so you’re going to go through something different with each. I am proud of them all. Above all else I think when your child meets a mark like this, pride is the number one thing that you experience. Of course, if you are like me, it just gets you thinking about how fast time goes, and how they are only ours for such a short time.”
WHAT KIND OF PREPARATIONS HAVE GONE INTO HAVING A MEMBER OF THE CLASS OF 2015 AROUND?
“Oh it’s been the whole year. There’s so much senior year. Pictures, events, special school functions, 2 trips, getting ready for the prom, for graduation. Ordering pictures and yearbooks and picking out suits and applying to colleges and visiting them. That was like a full-time job there for a while. Writing essays, filling out applications, submitting tax records and bank statements and all kinds of stuff. It’s an exhausting year for the parents I know that much.”
DOES THIS HAVE ANY IMPACT ON YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT AGING OR MORTALITY OR DOES IT BRING UP ANY THOUGHTS ABOUT THINGS THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE DONE, WHAT YOU MAY HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?
“Well, like I said, I feel old. Just to say out loud that you have a kid old enough to be graduating high school is weird. I am a very reflective person, so it gets me thinking about my college years. It gets me thinking about all the fun and not so fun times I had at that age. But, it also reminds me that my kids are growing up and moving on and that I have to as well. I wonder what life will be like when there are no more children here. It’s been so long, I can’t even imagine.”
HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE TO PREPARE FOR YOUR NEXT GRADUATE?
2 years til the next. Then another 2 years after that. Then the last one is a ways away. I am holding on to that one with everything I’ve got!
Cover image courtesy of David M. Groehning (CarbonNYC on Flickr) and is subject to the rules of the following creative commons license.