A Different Angle

Today was the last full day of high school for my oldest son. Yesterday was the last Wednesday and tomorrow will be the last time he sets foot in the school as a student.

I’ve been doing this morbid mental list of last moments for months now. Yesterday I even took a photo:

 

photo

The Last Wednesday I will ever pick him up from school!

 

The hardest moment, up until this week, was: this is the last birthday we will celebrate with him at home.

I’ve tried not to think about that one for too long.

I can’t stop myself. It’s such an automatic reaction that, this morning, I found myself thinking: this is the last time he will carry his lunch to high school in this black lunch bag—ever!

It’s an illness.

Obviously, I know that he will return home at some point (to visit, hopefully, not to live) but I know it won’t be the same.

As much as I complain about having to wait up for him on the weekends at least I know where he is at night. I also like sitting around the dinner table almost every night even if the meal takes 45 minutes to prepare and only 10 minutes to consume—at least I know that we have those 10 minutes!

Yes, he will eat meals with us again and I’m sure I will still want to wait up for him when he is back from college (although I guarantee I won’t make it past the first weekend) but today marked the last day that I will drive him to and from school. Those few minutes in the car every morning and every afternoon felt like stolen moments for me. Facing forward in our seats with no pressure to “have a conversation” my son would chatter away about his classes or who did what during the day at school, but once we walked into our house all conversation would stop.

I know that I will never have an opportunity like that again, at least not every day.

And, yet, this is as it should be. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

My son, through his own sadness today, pointed out that the end of high school is just the beginning of his independent life as a college student, a time filled with many firsts for him (many I’m sure that I don’t want to know about). “It’s all about perspective, mom,” he told me.

I’ll give him perspective.

For instance, today’s last lunch in his black lunch bag means that tomorrow will be the first time in nine years that I won’t have to make two lunches every day!

The last time he lives at home will be the first time I won’t have to do his laundry or yell at him to do his own laundry (at least for a few months but, that’s something).

And the last time he eats dinner with us before he leaves for college with be the first time that I don’t have to be annoyed that he has his ear phones on and can’t hear me so I have to text him in the other room to let him know that dinner is ready and I need the table set!

Perspective is a funny thing.

And it works the other way, too. I started thinking about my kids “first” moments—first steps, first words, first day of school. Those moments were also lasts if I shift my point of view. For instance, my first son’s first steps marked the last time I would be able to sit down for any length of time until my kids went to school. Had I known what his walking and eventual running, followed closely by climbing and jumping actually meant for me I may not have been so enthusiastic about taking photos of him walking – I may have taken photos of me lounging on the couch or sitting at the table enjoying a leisurely meal.

It is all about perspective.

More notable, yet unrecorded last moments masquerading as firsts:

My son’s first words = the last time I would able to have an adult conversation without being interrupted by a child’s questions.

His first “big boy” bed = the last time I would sleep in my bed (for eight years!) without a child climbing in at 5:30 am.

His first pair of big boy underwear = the last time I changed his diaper. Now that moment really should have been captured in a photo.

I guess my son was right, although he probably didn’t realize that he was doling out parenting advice. Parenting really is about your point of view. If you try to see things from a different angle it may not be as bad as it seems.

 

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15 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Stephanie Pearce on May 22, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Love it! This one brought tears to my eyes and my oldest is only a Freshman!

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  2. Posted by Kim on May 22, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    So nicely said!

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  3. Posted by OThePeacefulOne on May 22, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    As I read your blog, tears rolled down my cheeks. My first born will also be off to college in the Fall… I though for sure I would be more prepared emotionally because we had some rough times getting to the, here and now and yet it appears that all those horrible and hurtful screaming matches don’t matter any more.

    What matters is the my little boy is moving on with his life. (And that’s so great but I will miss him terribly)

    I don’t see him that much already. Between school, work, friends and girlfrind I’m lucky to see him or hear him at night. He says its the way it should be because parents need to get used to the idea of the birds leaving the nest.

    The one thing that makes me think of him and makes me feel so sad, is that the day is coming when his generous sprays of cologne he uses everyday before he’s off to start his day… will NO LONGER linger in the hallway or his bedroom. The beautiful smile will no longer be here and those sarcastic comments and his way of making fun of mom will be missed.The thought makes my heart physically hurt and I get all choked up!

    I caught a glimpse of him at and his best friend at work the other day… They both had parked their cars in front of the store they work at… they were beautifying their sweet rides : )

    It was a perfect California day, sunny and bright… they looked focused and determined to make these the best looking cars.

    What this mom saw was,

    two extremely fortunate kids turning into young adults. What a special time in ones life.
    They could do and be anything they want… They looked so happy and relaxed about life. Wow, what a magical moment in life.

    Smile moms because if you feel or can relate to any of this crazy stuff, you too are very fortunate to have this moment in life.

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    • Wow! You made me cry! I can relate to so much of what you said: the horrible and hurtful screaming matches that don’t matter now; missing his smell and his smile and especially his sarcasm. I can’t even imagine what it will be like when I don’t hear his laugh everyday or watch him sit in front of the refrigerator asking me to make him something to eat. And yet, as you said, kids need to move on. I agree about this magical time – I’m so excited that he gets to experience it.

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  4. Holy crap I feel this with my entire being.
    I am publishing a post on Monday about something so similar.
    I know I still have four years left but they will FLY.
    Thinking of you and sending you hugs.
    LETS GET COFFEE SOON.
    OR BOOZE.

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    • Don’t even get me started about my youngest starting high school. I don’t even think I can handle going through this again in four years. Thanks for the hug! Coffee with booze would work, too…

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  5. Oh, this brought me to tears! Time goes to fast and the daily routines make one day blur with the next. It really is about those moments and the perspective that one has when facing the last of each of those moments that seemed like they would go on forever. A really great post!

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  6. Posted by Anna Hojnar on May 23, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    I am totally on the same page as you!!!

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  7. Connie, this is beautifully written–thanks for this bittersweet post. My own children are still years away from this point, but already, I can feel the months, and years, flying by. It’s a tad alarming, I must say…

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  8. Posted by Mary Kakavas on May 24, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    Wait till you drop them off at the college and drive away. You hope they are safe and who will be there if they need something. You wipe your tears and say to yourself – that’s the way it should be – they will find a way.

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  9. Well said. As they say, every end is a new beginning . . .

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