Sunday, April 10, 2016

From Diapers to Diploma, Just Like That

***After weeks of  trying to convert the blog to private settings, what I have found is that blogger makes it virtually impossible.  Since starting a new blog under a different site came with a different set of problems, I  have decided to keep the blog public.  However, I will no longer be notifying of updates on Facebook or other social media.  If you wish to continue to receive updates please sign up to follow by email in the right side bar.  

You have brains in your head.  
You have feet in your shoes. 
You can steer yourself 
any direction you choose. 
~Dr Seuss

This last week a certain reality has hit home.  Our baby boy is graduating from high school and going to college.  Okay……so he’s not really our baby boy.  We have three more children after him, two of them boys, but he’s the last boy I gave birth to.  He’s the last child that I gave birth to so he’ll retain baby boy status for a long time…. as in forever. 

Last week I went with him to his first meeting with his college advisor.  When we arrived in the parking lot I turned to him and said, “this is your deal. Any questions he asks are for you, not me.”  This is the point where we start cutting apron strings and I know, from past experience that it can be painful.  Jim and I aren’t much into helicopter parenting. We’re here for support and guidance and encouragement and sometimes, maybe a bit too often, we voice our opinions, but the goal is independence. That’s what we’ve been raising them for and, now, here we are. We’re giving that nudge toward whatever comes next in his life.  We walk through the admission process with our kids, coach them as they register for their first set of classes, and then we step back. We step back and watch as they grow and spread their wings and learn and succeed and fail.  And we pray. We pray alot.  We’re not going to agree with all the choices he makes and we’re going to cringe a little, or maybe a lot, as we see him making mistakes along the way. But we know that sometimes we learn the most from mistakes and failures and not so great choices.  

I also ordered his graduation announcements this week.  They arrived at my doorstep in a bright orange box and they’re wrong.  The photos and his name are correct but the time, date and place for his graduation party didn’t print on the announcements.  I stood looking at them for awhile, mildly irritated because I distinctly remember typing the information in when I customized the announcements.  I’m not sure if the mistake was on their end or my end (probably mine) and I’m not losing any sleep over it. It occurred  to me that if this had happened five years ago, as we prepared for Jamee’s, our first, graduation, I probably would have hit freak out mode.  But Brock’s our fourth graduate, so I showed them to him. He shrugged his shoulders and said “Meh” or “huh” or “ungh” or something equally monosyllabic and  incoherent.  But I’ve been speaking his language for awhile now and I’m able to translate. In this instance “Meh” means “No biggie. It doesn’t matter if there’s printing on the announcement or not.”   And I’ve learned something after many proms and homecomings and awards banquets and graduations and all the other things that go with raising kids.  It’s profound…….wait for it…….NO ONE CARES.  No one cares about graduation announcements: how many pictures are on it or how much you spent on them, if you made them yourself, or if the print is professional or hand written.  No one cares about the food you serve at your party or how spectacular your table display is or how many awards your kid won or how perfect you may think they are.  No one cares about any of that and certainly no one believes that your kids is perfect and exactly 37 days from today, when it’s all over, none of it’s going to matter, not even a little bit.  What will matter is how respectful and responsible and kind he is. What matters is that he knows that nothing in life is perfect and nothing good comes easy and NEWS FLASH…you’re not any better than anyone else.  So I’m sticking with the announcements, handwriting the information in and feeling thankful that my son is very responsible and hoping that we’ve succeeded in teaching him kindness and respect and all the other things that matter

For the last year or more we’ve been getting things in the mail addressed to Brock M. Holmes-  brochures and pamphlets, mass mailings from colleges with his name on it.  I always wonder how they got his name and if there’s anyone on the planet who actually chooses or even visits a college based on the 5X7 “Why you should send all your money to this college/universty” brochure.  And letters……. if they have even a hint of athletic ability or any other talent, the letters start coming, stating all the reasons why you should play or run or perform at that school.  At first it seems just a bit flattering and then you start to wonder, “For the love of all that is good, how does someone in Australia know that he’s a runner??!!!?!?!” and flattering is reduced to slightly creepy.

Last week I got an email from the school about registration and sports physicals for next year.  I breathed in a deep breath of air and felt almost giddy at the idea that I don’t have to schedule sports physicals or write ginormous checks to enroll my troops in high school.  Then I quickly deflated as I realized the checks I'm writing are much larger.  They're just going to colleges instead of our school district.

As much as all of this feels really, really good….. like someone should high five me for getting 4 kids through high school…… it also feels a little sad.  Because they’ve grown so very quickly and I really don’t know where all the time went. I mean... we were just in diapers and now we’re getting our last diploma. Because I know that he will need me differently from this point on. Because life becomes so much more complex and hurts tend to be so much bigger and my ability to fix things becomes nearly obsolete.   I am going to miss how easy it is to show support… attending long chorus concerts or sitting for hours in frigid temperatures with gale force winds on cold, hard bleachers at track meets.  Those things weren’t always super fun and I can’t exactly say I will miss them (and neither will he) but they said, “I’m here for you,”  “I’m your greatest fan,” “I’m so proud of who you are.”  And if I didn’t go, which was often, it said “It’s your commitment/responsibility. I’m still here for you. I’m still proud of you but our whole world does not revolve around you," another vitally important lesson.

 The teaching and learning comes harder for them as they gain independence, almost as if there’s an entirely different layer, a whole new depth to their being that they’re just now discovering.  The learning is harder for me too.  Relinquishing hurts a little and, for parents, that’s what this phase is all about.  We’ve been down this road three times now and every one of them has marched to the beat of a different drum.  I can’t begin to think that I have any of it figured out because I know I don’t, not by a long shot. But that's what keeps life interesting.  The fact that I don't know what lies around the bend, that I have no answers, especially in this finding-who-they-are stage of life, is what keeps me on my knees.  So as I send this one off to new, exciting experiences and grown up decisions, I cover him, as I do all the others, with an extra layer of prayer.  I pray that the God of the universe will continue to grow him in the areas where we've succeeded in teaching him and fill in the spaces where we've failed.  There is comfort in knowing that there is a God.  A God who holds him in the palm of his hand.  A God who loves him even more than I do.

God is good, all the time.

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