Children Get Older…and Graduate and It’s Harder Than I Thought
This post was most recently updated on June 13th, 2019
Remember how he got his driver’s license and I hung onto the handles of the passenger seat, scared and wondering if he’d ever get the hang of it? He did. That was a long time ago from where we are now.
My Baby Graduated from High School Yesterday.
For the past few weeks every time I say this truth out loud my eyes well up. It hits me unexpectedly hard. At first it seems like no big deal. The emotion came slowly. This rite of passage is a tunnel.
When they told the graduates to turn the tassel to the other side of their cap they pronounce that your child is now an adult. You know that this process, one that accelerated this year, isn’t quite so easy. Neither is letting go.
Even though he’s gone most of the time for the past year, it’s different. I only hear him coming in at night after he’s closed up shop at the local pizza place where he works. And he’s living here for a few more months still before he starts college. And the college town is only about an hour away. It’s still the mark of big changes and the tearing up of my mom heart.
The last child support check has been cashed. And at the same time my brother is going through tough things in his marriage and the word divorce comes up and kids and money. It reminds me. He’s my first born. His birth changed me forever. For five years, starting when he was two years old, there was a lot of just him and me.
When I got divorced we clung to each other through the loneliness and pain of separation and change. I remember sitting on the stairs to our townhouse I could barely afford, saying I need to teach you something. And he listened.
Years later, when he was about 7 years old, as he put it, “we got married”. Stephen became his step dad or as Stephen puts it, his guardian. At that age, Bjorn thought his dad’s family and ours were one family, just living different places. But it wasn’t like that at all.
Stephen doesn’t know what it’s like and he won’t until our baby grows up and graduates from daily hugs to visits.
It sounds dramatic. Landmarks like this remind me that time marches on without our consent and steals some of us away. The line from the song Landslide by the Dixie Chicks keep coming up. It’s not just him getting older. I’m getting older too.
“Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’
‘Cause I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older too…’
My life wasn’t built around him. I’ve had jobs and a business to run. I’m not a professional mom who had picture perfect everything. But that doesn’t make it any less difficult.
When he went to dad’s I didn’t miss him like a lot of single parents. I needed or enjoyed the space without responsibility to sort things out or to heal or have fun. But my heart was always all in.
When the other moms made sledding at the hill by our house into a photo opp, I was the mom who had to push down the hill because he was too scared to go. That’s all he needed. Just one push. This will take more than that. You just keep piling in resources and hope he makes it alright. He probably will.
Now it’s been a few weeks since I wrote this. There are still times I’m sad or struggle to accept the reality that he’s moving out in a few months. I’m sure that will be a tough milestone. He’s only moving about an hour away but it seems like a lot more than that to me! Still, I don’t want him to stay. He needs this.
Some parents let their kids live at home. Not these parents. Stephen looks forward to letting him launch. It’s time for me to accept it even though it reminds me of my age. The ties to that life are loosening. I have to move on from the past and let the air come underneath and lift us, taking us to new places. Alexis (7) drew this bird that reminds me it’s ok to fly.
Moms who’ve had their first child graduate from high school, was it hard on you too? I’d love to hear your comments.