When my oldest daughter started school, all of the ‘firsts’ were so emotional. There was the first day of school, the first field trip, the first class play, the first class party, the first class project. Everything was a highly tear-fueled experience for me. (Mommies tend to find reasons to cry on just about any occasion.) But as she finished up that first year of school, I realized that the lasts were just as emotional. I discovered that I cried as much on the last day of school as I had on the first. After all, the last day signified that my baby girl had accomplished a whole year of school on her own without needing me by her side. It was the first of many, many steps toward independence and eventually leaving the nest.
With each one of our three kids, as they’ve reached big milestones I have found that I am weepy all over again, even though I know the outcome from the previous child’s experience. It still tugs at my heart and reminds me that our job as parents is so very brief. I suppose all of us mothers survive it, but goodness, some days are rough. Is it any wonder that we all end up with lots of gray hair and stress wrinkles from all the days we spend lamenting our growing babies?
This fall, my last baby will be a senior in high school. I know this routine. I’ve done it twice before. In fact, I JUST did it with my son. This is not a new experience. I realize that every couple of weeks, she’ll come home with paperwork for another senior item that she needs money for. I recognize that she will be participating in Homecoming week and will need overalls to paint. I understand that she’ll be in the ‘mosh pit’ of jumping, giggling seniors at the last home football game. I remember that I will watch her take her last big tests and order a cap and gown in the spring. None of this is shocking or new to me.
But just thinking about it now makes me well up a little because this will be my LAST senior year. She’ll be the last one I drive to Prestige to take formal senior pictures. She’ll be my last one to cheer for when they call out the seniors on Senior Night at the football game. This will be my last football season to have a kid on the field. It will be my last time to grin big when she comes home with her letter jacket. It will be the last year for me to wonder how close (or far) she’ll get a parking space. It will be the last time to fill out the hundred forms to register her for the fall, and the last kid I’ll help fill out college and scholarship applications.
Just yesterday, it seems, we were buying crayons and markers, the right nap mat, scissors, glue and that elusive manilla paper that every store always seemed to be out of! Just yesterday we were thinking about hair bows and twirly dresses and buying yet another pair of shoes because she outgrew the ones we bought last month already. Just yesterday we were learning times tables and getting the hang of switching classes and figuring out locker combinations.
And here we are, on the brink of the end of it all. And somehow no matter how fast it all seemed to pass, time marches on. There are lots of other firsts ahead for all of my kids: college, marriage, careers, grandchildren, travel and so much more. I’m looking forward to all of that. I’m sure I’ll continue to cry with each new stage and each new milestone they pass through. But for these next eleven months, I’m going to embrace all these ‘lasts’ because I won’t ever see them again. I will take pictures and be present for every moment I can because I want to remember it all!