Today marks my son’s final Wednesday as an elementary school student. In three weeks he turns 13 and I’m not ready.
Oh I can just about hear it now, the moans and groans of my elder parents sharing ‘wisdom’ of, “get over it”; “that’s nothing” and the like. Truth be told however, it is indeed a milestone and one I’ve chosen to reflect on in a somewhat relatable fashion for others finding themselves in this place.
I also happen to know, there are a handful of veteran parents who traveled this road and appreciate the reflection back, as they too have lived these emotions.
My son is my oldest. He is the one who has helped me learn what it means to be a mom, a parent and yes, even a friend (to others). He is also the reason this column space morphed from the once titled “Bottom Line” to its current “Mommy Musings.”
Last week as I dropped him at school for a handful of final times, it all sort of hit me. The emotion came from many fronts. Of course watching him grow is rewarding and yet conflicting. Present parents, I have come to learn, spend a lot of time questioning. Not their children, but rather themselves. The beauty is, if they can’t or aren’t satisfied with the answers they can turn to their friends, their comrades, their ‘in the trenches’ go to’s, if you will.
As I watched he and his sister walk into school I reflected back on where we began. Me holding his hand escorting him in every day, seven short years ago. Everything was small then. His shoes, his pants, his backpack and yes, his hands. Even now, it’s crazy to think 2010 does not seem that long ago, yet it is.
Together we walked onto that campus knowing very few, unsure of what it would all mean, yet excited to start this chapter of our lives - Kindergarten.
As I watched him enter the playground last week, standing over 5’7” and wearing an 11 shoe, I thought of all the things that campus has come to mean to our family. In many ways, it has been our home. In others it has brought us a uniquely wonderful family, from staff, to parent to student – it’s familiar.
In a town with four elementary schools (six if you include rural) and as a staffer who is privileged to visit all of them, I can honestly say each possesses this unique feeling of inclusion. We are very fortunate in this way.
Knowing this of the other campuses one would think I’d feel comforted and confident, as he prepares to journey to the Junior High with the others, but I’m not ready. It’s funny, as I think to the graduations I will cover in the coming days I think to the parents and families who will fill the stands. Are they ready?
My educated guess is that a handful are likely as eager as their children, ready to move to what’s next. Equal parts are probably struggling just as I am, as they wonder what they will do in the silence of an empty home. Let’s face it, be it Junior High or High School graduation, as they grow you see them less and when you do you bask in those moments and their words.
Early on I shared in this space, being a parent is one of the most selfless jobs one can ever take on. Thirteen years later I find myself revisiting those words.
Sure, I’m not ready, but he is. He entered this school year ready, eager and excited for the future awaiting he and his friends at “the junior high.” Fortunately for mom, hives stayed at bay and I learned to overcome the nervous twitch every time he said these words. I’m joking – kind of.
It’s been a special kind of pang to the stomach, no one really speaks of when they are this age, but trust me it’s real.
So for each of you who chose to read this and reflect or nod your head in solidarity, I commend you. This parenting gig, this selflessness, it sucks the life out of us at times and then … in moments like these, our eyes well up. Our eyes well up for a number of reasons, yet at the end of it all we know, we have done our job to the best of our ability. Gratefully, we can then turn to our comrades, our in the trenches go to’s and raise a glass to the next chapter and hope to God we remain in such strong company to see us through. That’s true blessing. Happy Summer!
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.