It is hard to believe that our youngest child graduates from high school this month.
For 25 years, we have ushered children out the door, snapping photos of the first day of school, chaperoning field trips and asking, “do you have homework?” Twenty-five years of concerts, conferences and sporting events. Each fall I would get writer’s cramp from filling out sets of emergency contact cards and writing dates on the calendar. Two and a half decades of sticker shock from back-to-school clothes and supplies.
Earlier in the week, Baby Number Four and I purchased her prom dress. This year marks the last prom for our brood. The last graduation party we will host. So many “First of the Lasts” this year. It has been exciting and sad at the same time.
Each time our daughter stepped from the dressing room in a gown, I was in awe seeing the transformation from a little girl to a young woman. She tried on several styles and colors and looked beautiful in each. Glowing in anticipation, I shared in the excitement she radiated. Our little girl worked very hard during her high school years, especially this, her senior year – setting goals for herself on her cheer and track teams, on grades, on choir accomplishments and on her part-time job.
It was hard for me to live in the moment and not take a trip down memory lane. I reminisced about her older siblings. How she was a kindergartener giggling when her big sister was getting ready for prom and had given her date a peck on the cheek. I thought about how handsome her older brothers looked in their tuxes. How the three older children and their dates were nervous about placing boutineers and corsages and how I gladly stepped up and secured said flowers so there were no pin-poking moments.
I thought back to princess dresses and super hero capes. To long nights pacing the floor with a screaming baby. To long days of cabin fever with preschoolers who had had enough of play dough and paints and longed to be outdoors.
Thoughts flashed-forward to driver’s training and the long nights of staying awake until the newly licensed driver found his or her way home.
We celebrate our thirty years of parenthood in July (sorry to out your age, darling daughter number one!). We could have never anticipated that three decades could rip by in the blink of an eye.
Today is May 1, and we begin the celebrations: the last concerts, the parent dinners, the issuing of the yearbook, the upcoming prom and commencement and graduation party. It is as exhilarating as it is melancholy. How we have done life for thirty years is changing.
We embrace the change.
As much as we miss our four children around the table every night at dinner, we could not be more proud of them. Their accomplishments have been nothing short of amazing, especially since they went through hard times together; and they also felt the sting of separation as military kids. Our oldest daughter graduated college as a young mother, who then married – wonderful parents to our two adorable granddaughters; our oldest son proudly serves in the armed forces while attending college alongside his wife; our youngest son has completed his trade school and works in a field he enjoys; and now our little girl is planning her college years after a senior year packed with events, awards and major achievements.
Some days I close my eyes, and see the four of them playing in the sandbox in the backyard. Some days, I close my eyes and see all of them as adults sitting in the living room, cracking up at story or one of my jokes because they know that I am funny. I see them interact as adults with their dad, and it almost seems surreal. These are our babies? When did they grow?
Without a doubt, parenting as we know it is changing. We have been blessed. Of course we had our struggles and strife. That is just life.
We embrace the change, though I admit it won’t be easy. I guarantee there will be weepy moments this May. There will be weepy moments next fall – and it won’t be due to writer’s cramp.
We embrace the change because there is nothing more exciting than seeing your children become adults and chase their dreams. It is like a reward we receive for being up all night and cleaning up spit-up and breaking up fights and mending broken hearts.
It is our return on investment for years of parenting and juggling and it’s all good.
We embrace the change and to our “babies,” we want you to know that we love you and the people you have become. You make us proud. Enjoy your lives and your accomplishments, as we do the same.
Embrace your change.
© Lynne Cobb – 2015
Is your family experiencing a milestone this year? Share it with others in the comment section below.