Yes, I know. I’m supposed to be happy for all those kiddos graduating high school. I’m thrilled for them. They’ve worked hard for so long to reach this monumental occasion they’ll remember the rest of their lives. They’re ready to move on to the next phase. They’ve earned their independence, their freedom. I was incredibly excited when my oldest son graduated from high school a few years ago. Then, once all the ceremonies, breakfasts, parties and hoopla ended, I faced the real truth: It wasn’t ever going to be the same.
If you are the parent of an only or eldest child nearing the end of his/her high school years, stop reading NOW! I’m about to hurt you. If you’ve already gone through it, you get it. I’ve been looking around at the signs in the yards, the cards in stores, and receiving announcements in the mail.
I have another child who will be a junior next year. It’s all going to cycle again. Then, in another two years, again. We can’t change it, they grow up and leave. Yes, they’re supposed to. But it is hard, no matter who you are. We can try and convince ourselves we’ve prepared them for this moment in time and they are doing what is natural and right by flying away. Nice try. It sucks to stare at the empty chair at dinnertime every single night.
What I’m circling around to here is not to depress the hell out of everyone, but to express that what we feel is normal. The depth of loss and sadness when our family changes irrevocably should impact us. It is huge. But it’s the only way they can grow up and become adults.
My son is now a senior in college. He cooks, does his own laundry and works a job while attending classes. Yes, I am proud, and yes I still miss him living among us every day. Fortunately, he lives only an hour away and can come home pretty often.
His first year in college, he wasn’t so close and we all suffered greatly. So, expect to suffer because it’s what has to happen. I will suffer when the next and the next leave my nest. By then, it will likely be time for weddings and grandbabies. Or, maybe I will travel. Or take care of parents. Or maybe all of it.
Best to all the graduates and hugs to their mommies and daddies. I feel for you. It will eventually be okay.