On the day when Older graduated 8th grade, I went into his room to wake him up and his alarm was already going off. That song from Furious 7 was playing. You know, the one that makes you weep on a normal day.
“We’ve come a long way from where we began, and I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again…that bond will never be broken…family’s all that we got…everything I went through you were standing there by my side…So let the light guide your way, hold every memory as you go, and every road you take will alwaaaaays lead you hoo-ooh-ooooome.”
The idea of my baby being in high school hadn’t bothered me until that moment, in which I had to sit down right there on the floor in his room because I was overcome.
Now we are renovating the house and I’m digging through boxes and finding old treasures. The Madagascar landscape Younger crafted from foam and papier mache in 5th grade. Notes that said “I love you” in crayon scribbles. The action figures and trinkets that they couldn’t leave the house without now stored in a box in the basement. It seems that motherhood is this long push and pull – I can go for months in denial that anything is different, and then I’m surrounded with reminders of exactly how different it is.
One of my dear friends and child care clients had a son who was a few years older than her daughter who I cared for. I would watch him growing so quickly and be upset, not wanting my babies to be that big. She said, “Amy, it just gets better every day.” That little phrase has gotten me through a lot, and she was so right. We’ve had a lot of amazing adventures lately. Older’s soccer team went to a regional final and WON the championship! When he started with the team they regularly lost about 8-0 if not more. What a long road and wonderful outcome for him. He finished an awful school year marred by racism and impotence on the part of school officials by staying after every day and working his butt off to pass his finals. I’m so proud of his determination, the skills to seek out the help he needs, and most importantly his ability to rise above.
Today Younger has his 8th grade graduation and I’m bracing myself. Nowadays my life is even more chaotic than when Older graduated – it’s literally look at the calendar and see what I have to get through for the next ten hours – so everything comes on me very suddenly (well, that’s busy plus menopause I’m sure). I had one of those moments on Friday when I brought Younger for his last full day of school. After six years of daily grind, rushing to get there, being stressed about we’re late because you couldn’t find the shirt I told you to find last night, TODAY is the last day I’ll drive down this driveway with a student who attends this school. Ouch. Deep breath.
In the usual flurry of end-of-year activities (aka reminders that time is flying by), awards night was last week. Younger won an academic achievement award for which I was of course thrilled and proud. We were also told he was winning the Student Awareness Award. I was happy for him but didn’t really know what it was about. The night of the ceremony we sat in the audience as the vice principal began reading the introduction. The criteria for the award was “a student who actively displays a willingness to continually push his understanding of diverse cultures, lifestyles or beliefs, continually challenges cultural misconceptions and urges others to do the same; recognizes his own prejudices and strives to reach a new level of understanding regarding the complex world in which we live, displays the courage to challenge the thinking of his classmates, and whose commitment to celebrating differences will be carried into adulthood.”
Can you imagine? Especially in America circa 2017? As I’ve been digging through those old boxes I’ve remembered all the years of running the child care and how much time Younger spent with me working with the kids. I thought of how hard I worked, every day, to make sure those little ones were treating each other with respect. I like to believe that while Younger was already born with the personality to be kind, the lessons he learned during those years informed who he is today and what that award represents. I believe he truly is that person and he will carry it forward. I couldn’t possibly ask for more.
On Monday graduation will be different. Instead of spending the day with me going somewhere to swim and eat ice cream, Younger will want to hang with his friends. Older will be standing an inch taller than me, as he does now. My husband and I will probably be left to our own devices, having taken the day off to be with our kids and instead will entertain ourselves as they move a little farther out into the world. My job as their mother will be over soon. I can’t hold on to those baby days any longer, but I’m so lucky to embrace the beautiful young men they are today.