Y’all, this parenting gig is hard. Yes, i know, I’ve done the promotion and graduation thing three times before but it doesn’t get any easier. Each milestone has been as different as each child reaching it. Some have been harder than others. I worry just as much, but about different things in different ways. The world is a different place than it was when my oldest two were doing this. They didn’t have cell phones until they were driving. That was our hard and fast rule. And with the others, well, those hard and fast rules don’t always stick.
This has been a week filled with many tears. I’ve spent hours going through old pictures for slide shows for my 5th grader and my senior. And for Birthday Photos of the Day for my two oldest boys who are 32 and 29 this week. Reliving their entire lives in the last few days has been overwhelming to say the least. I’ve mentioned on more than a few occasions that you can find me curled up in a corner. Probably in the fetal position and most likely crying. If you want to help, send chocolate. And wine.
My youngest son graduates from high school on Saturday morning and my daughter, who also happens to be the baby, graduated 5th grade Tuesday night and is now officially a middle schooler.
Middle School — oh, the horror stories I’ve been told! The things I’ve been warned to watch for and shield her from. Cliques, bullying, status, sex. Wait…what??!!
It’s hard to let our babies loose in the world when all we’ve heard is that the world will eat them up.
If seems like it was only yesterday that you couldn’t pry her from my side. She used to crawl up into my lap and with chubby little hands on my cheeks, tell me how much she loved me. There were times that scared me to death. What if I couldn’t live up to that love?
We’ve managed to make it eleven and a half years fairly unscathed. If I do say so myself, I think I’m doing okay. She is strong and fiercely independent. She is kind, compassionate and tender hearted. She handles herself with grace in every situation and let’s negativity roll off her back. I’m pretty sure she is going to handle things just fine.
And then there’s my senior. I can’t believe I’m actually saying that. That time has slipped away and we are actually here. I held on as tightly as I could and couldn’t stop it. I’m not ready for him to be an adult. Because you realize, once he arrives on campus at the University of Alabama, he is considered an adult. I won’t get that phone call when he sees the campus doctor or his grades are slipping. Or he isn’t attending classes. I have to trust he is making the right decisions.
This funny, engaging boy is all grown up. He has never failed to keep us laughing and still does to this day. He’s always been the glue that’s held us together; insisting on family game nights even when we don’t want to play. And those game nights? They have been good for my soul.
He’s excited about these next steps. He’s more than ready for them. He’s always had a strong sense of direction and a conviction to do the right thing. For himself and for others. I’ve watched him forge friendships that will stay with him the rest of his life. Everything he does he does with abandon; he’s all in with his whole heart. I’m pretty sure he’s going to handle this whole adult thing just fine.
Me, on the other hand? Not so much.
With all five of my children, there are things I wish I had done differently. There always will be. My mother guilt wouldn’t have it any other way. I can only hope I’ve done the best for each of them. I want them to know that I will always be there for them. That no one will ever be for them like I am. That they are fiercely loved.
And as the song says, we have to hold on loosely. They are their own person. Each one different. Each one with a different approach to this thing called life. I may not always agree with the decisions they make, but I have to trust they know what they are doing. I have to trust myself to allow them to make those decisions – – decisions that are only theirs to make. That’s the whole point of this thing called motherhood. Creating and nourishing people that will go into the world and make their mark.
It’s not easy to let go. Motherhood is the single most fulfilling and most heart-breaking thing I have had the privilege to experience. It’s a difficult, frustrating, scary, painfully beautiful journey and I want to thank my children for allowing me to tag along.
“Just hold on loosely but don’t let go. If you cling too tightly you’re gonna lose control. Your baby needs someone to believe in and a whole lot of space to breathe in.” 38 Special Hold On Loosely