Last week it all ended. High school is a thing of the past for The Girl. In a mercifully concise 1 hour & 26 minute ceremony, she & 315 of her closest friends walked across a stage set up on the school football field & accepted their proverbial “Get Out of Jail Free” cards.
The week leading up to that day was a flurry of prom, visitors & enough family togetherness to last me until The Boy’s graduation in three years.
And then it was over. And all was quiet.
The Boy still has a couple of weeks to finish up his freshman year & I will admit it’s strange to get him out the door on his own although it was just a year ago that they were in separate schools with different start times. But memory fades & it seems like they have always made that 7 am walk to the bus together.
It was bittersweet for The Girl. While she was happy to have made it, tears were shed on the way home. “I’ll miss everyone,” she said simply.
And now she’s on to new things. She’ll still be at home. She’s not entirely sure what path she’s heading down, so she’s opted to attend the local community college (my bank account thanks her). She also signed up for a summer EMT course which surprised (and impressed!) all of us.
Meanwhile, I follow a page on Facebook catering to the parents of teenagers – particularly those who are moving on to new ventures. I have read post after post about the sadness that comes when your kids start moving on with their lives & away from yours.
Only I’m not sad.
Isn’t this what we’ve worked for? Wasn’t this our goal? To raise our kids so that they could stand on their own. For their entire lives, The Kids have heard me say that my job is to make sure they are able to live on their own. And while their laundry & cooking skills could still use some honing, they’re getting there. More & more they are independent of me. As The Girl works on getting her drivers license at the same time she’s getting her EMT license, The Boy spends time out with friends. Which leaves me time to do the things I want.
We still connect during the week. There are still dinners & game nights & movie nights & honestly, I’m still surprised every time I suggest doing something & they say yes. But do I expect them to always be available to hang out with me? Absolutely not.
This was my goal. This is what my parenting was about. To get them to a point where they can be their own person.
I remember a parent/teacher conference with The Girl’s History teacher in her freshman year. As we waited in line to see this particular teacher, there was a form we were supposed to fill out about our child. The first question was “Do you check your child’s homework every night?” I wrote, “No” (probably in Burt’s Bees “Hibiscus” colored lip balm because I can never find a pen). When it was our turn to talk to the teacher, she noted my answer.
“So you don’t check her homework?” she asked, one eyebrow raised askance.
“I do not. She is 15 years old. She’s perfectly capable of knowing what her assignments are & getting them done,” was my reply, slightly appalled that this was even a question at the high school level. When she’s 30, am I supposed to call & ask if she did the work her boss gave her? Am I supposed to ask if she’s paid her bills or fed her pets or put gas in her car?
I love my kids. I want the best for them. But I also want the best for my life. And I have plans for my future as well. Does that make me a bad mom? Maybe. Do I care? Not in the least.
When I had them, it was with the understanding that I would do everything in my power to keep them safe. And it was with the understanding that I would love them unconditionally.
But it was also with the understanding that they would someday be their own person. That they would be on their own & lead their own lives & not be present in my life every day.
“Oh, they’ll always need their moms,” say some.
Maybe. But it’s okay if they don’t.
It means I’ve done my job.