Posts Tagged ‘Eighth grade’

Guest Post: Letting Go

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

I'm so happy to share with you a wonderful essay by writer Liz Seegert. If your child is in preschool right now, don't be too fast to discount this piece and say "oh, that's years away for our family." Yesterday (I swear), my son was in kindergarten. Today he started 8th grade. As they say, "the days are long, but the years are short." Thanks, Liz, for sharing this piece. And I love the pic of you and your tall son!

From
the day they’re born you know it’s going to happen. The first “me do it.” The
first time they walk, a little unbalanced, without holding your hand, grinning
broadly. That first day of kindergarten. That was hard. Learning to ride that
two-wheeler and the freedom that comes with leaving the block. The first
sleepover at his best friend’s house.

Then middle school, and high school. The first date. The
driver’s license and taking the keys to go out alone that first time. The first
time he’s forced to make hard choices – about friends, studying, activities,
his social life.

With
each first, you hold your breath, and say a silent prayer that all of the
things you have tried to instill in him, the values, knowing right from wrong,
has penetrated and is somewhere in the back of his mind. Each time stumbles or
falls, you stifle the urge to jump in and fix it. He has to pick himself up and
live with the consequences of his actions. Maybe he “forgot” to do his
homework. Maybe he stayed out past curfew and didn’t call. Maybe he was at a
party where someone snuck in some beer.

At
some point, you can’t even ground him any more. When did he become a head
taller? And when is he going to stop eating everything in the fridge before
it’s barely unpacked from the store? He’s applying to colleges hundreds of
miles away – the further the better, he hints. But, but… the mom of the little
boy in you protests. I’m not ready. “Well I am,” he counters.

Deep down, I know he’s right. We go through the unending
paperwork that is the college application process together and I dutifully pay
the fees, secretly hoping the schools closest to home accept him.

The
letters begin arriving. Didn’t make one of his top choices, but did make the
other. Wait listed. Another acceptance, another rejection. Several more visits
to campuses for accepted students days. He makes his decision, and you’re OK
with it. Not too far, but far enough. He’s happy. You’re not sure how you feel.

Graduation
day. Everyone in caps and gowns. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings
– all taking and posing for pictures. The “last” summer. The “last” get
together with high school buddies. Another step to letting go. Shopping for the
dorm. More shopping. He’s a boy. Does he care if his sheets and comforter
match? You do. So you spend the extra money for the good set.

You
want this summer to last forever. No, it flew by way too fast. Moving day.
Loading the car is like solving a jigsaw puzzle. Turn the box this way. Try
putting that sideways. Finally ready to go. He gives his room a final once over
and we head north on I-95. We’re there. Carry the stuff up three flights.

Finally unpacking. “Mom, you don’t have to make my bed,” he
tells me. “Yes I do.” I do. I need to know he’s starting off with everything in
its place. Time to leave, and he walks us to the car. “I’ll call soon,” he
promises. A long, hard hug. And another. I struggle to hold back tears. The
first of many goodbyes.

He’s
on his own. He knows we’ll be there to lend a hand, dust him off, and set him
back on his feet if he falls but only if he wants us to. I still hold my breath
sometimes, but not as often. His first attempt at being an adult. I couldn’t
wait to get that first phone call. “I love it here,” he said. “I’m so happy I
chose this school.”

His
first major life decision.  I am
looking forward to many more good “firsts.”