It hit me like a swift blow to my emotional gut, sending me back to the reality that time really is a precious resource. I knew this day would eventually come, but I didn’t know how quickly it would sneak up and I’m not quite sure if I’m ready for it or, how I’m going to handle this next year.
Today happens to be the last first day of school for my son; the first day as a high school senior and the last year he will be in high school. This is the last first time he will experience the first day excitement of learning which of his best buds are in his same classes and talking about what everyone did over the summer. It is the last first time he will have to check out and jockey for the attention of the new hot girl (or girls) who moved to town over the summer and the last first time he will have claiming his territory in the school’s courtyard. It is also the last time I will wish him good luck on a fresh new year in high school.
Senior year – where on Earth has the time gone. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was holding his hand, walking him into kindergarten with a backpack bigger than him and witnessing his eyes grow large with wonder and amazement. That rambunctious little boy, so full of energy and so full of curiosity has, in the blink of an eye, turned into a handsome young man (still full of energy) ready to take on the world and reveling in his “senior” status. The saying “they grow up so fast” is truly an understatement.
My son may be excited for his senior year of high school, but I can’t help feel the bitter sweetness of it all. Maybe it’s because he is my “baby” or maybe it’s because a part of me isn’t ready to face the fact that my time as the mother of school aged children is slowly coming to an end. Whichever the case, I just want to slow time down. OK, what I really want is to tie up Father Time and wedge a large boulder underneath the large ticking minute hand of life and steal a few more precious moments savoring these days. I know that’s not possible, but I can wish and hope for it to happen.
Does that make me selfish wanting to slow down the pace, beg for more time and savor each moment? Some may think so, but I don’t feel that way. I have spent the past 18+ years dedicated to raising my son and daughter and have loved this phase of life – except perhaps the morning stresses of actually getting everyone out of the house on time. But when you love being a parent, it’s natural not to want it to end. The daily – or yearly – routines become a part of your existence and it can be very hard to notice that not only have your children grown up, but the “firsts” you’ve taken for granted have suddenly turned into “lasts”.
My mind is racing back to that time when I was my son’s age and I can tell you the memories are still vivid. To the time that I was entering my last year of high school. Excited beyond belief, feeling that not only was this going to be the best year ever, but also feeling invincible and thinking that the big wide world was mine for the taking. Memories of senior pep rallies, football games, home coming, endless discussions about the cute guys you wished would notice you, hanging with your BFF’s and yes, the excitement of opening up those college acceptance letters. As much as I was ready for that year to begin and then end so that my “real” life would begin, my senior year of high school and the friends I that shared those special memories with will always have a special place in my heart. As I sit here reflecting on my own son and the memories he will create, I now wonder if my own mother had those same bitter sweet feelings as she was watching me travel through my last year of high school.
It’s interesting how your perspective changes as each of your children passes a new milestone in life. Just a few years ago, when my daughter was entering her senior year of high school, I looked forward to watching her experience this incredible last chapter of her childhood. I looked forward to her senior pictures, to walking with her down the field on “Senior Night” honoring the senior class cheerleaders and football players, to prom dress shopping, sharing in her excitement as she opened her college acceptance letters and to graduation day. She was my first born and I cherished each and every exciting “first” moment of hers. It seemed I was always anxiously waiting for the next one to happen, not fully aware how quickly this special year would come to an end and not allowing myself to truly be in the moment.
Although I am just as excited to see my son have these same experiences — minus the prom dress shopping, I just wished these weren’t the last times. He is my baby, which means his first times will be my last times watching one of my kids go through these experiences. Seeing these “firsts” through my children’s eyes and silently – OK sometimes not so silently – cheering them on and being there for them, have been some of the greatest pleasures I have experienced as a mother.
As my son enters this last chapter of high school life on this first day as a senior, my wish for him is that he will savor and enjoy every precious moment. I want him to live in the present, not looking too far ahead, but just far enough for him to appreciate how special this year is. Senior pictures, anxiously opening those college acceptance letters, home coming, prom, senior trips and graduation — the excitement of my son’s senior year is just beginning, but the memories of this year will never end.
As for me, this year I will be proudly watching his excitement as this last chapter of high school unfolds, with boxes of tissues by my side and pleasantly relishing the bitter sweet moments of these last firsts.