My daughter recently asked, “Mom, are you going to cry a lot this spring? You always cry at our events.” To which I replied, “Of course. It’s what I do.” This is both a humorous observation, and a serious one.
It’s true—I cry at the drop of a hat. We artists are emotional. Plus, in our house we are embarking on a season of change. Our firstborn is about to graduate from eighth grade. He’s been at the same school for nine years, and this chapter is about to end. Oh sure, graduations are beginnings, too, I know. But from an emotional mom’s perspective, it’s bittersweet and it takes time to digest it.
I remember my graduation from eighth grade. Although I was very excited to start high school, at my eighth grade graduation I did shed tears. I was going to miss my friends (none of whom were going to my high school). But I was so ready for the next chapter, too. Like a snake shedding her old skin, the teenaged me was ready for something bigger, something different. I think most teens look forward to a future filled with new opportunities. New adventures. New privileges. Finally being old enough to do x, y and z.
This is in stark contrast to my current stage. One of the few things I’m not yet old enough to do is collect Social Security! Time has taken on a completely different feel. Did this happen when I became a mom? Or does it feel that way once your teenager is taller than you are? We see our growing kids and we’re instantly transported back to when we were their age, walking across the graduation platform, leaving one stage and beginning a new chapter. Other transitions will be meaningful, too. But this one feels monumental to me. I think it is because more change happens in the first fourteen years than in any other fourteen year span. Teens will change over the four years in high school, yes, but not as much. The physical, emotional and mental growing these kids have done in the last nine years makes this graduation feel especially significant.
Truthfully, I started crying about all of this last fall! I couldn’t help it. Changes were on the way. In December, seeing my kid singing in the holiday show for the last time just set the tears a-flowin’. All the teenagers suddenly looked grown up, and I felt emotional. Of course, since I started my crying last fall, maybe by June I’ll be all dried out. I doubt it, but who knows?
Watching your kid become a teen sure is fascinating. It happens fast, but not overnight. There’s time to marvel at the deepening voice, the hairs on his face, his having “teen” in his age. And yes, my daughter is right. I do cry a lot! And I’m not apologizing for it. It’s my way of processing the changes that are coming. Time is racing along, whether I’m ready or not. (And while I sometimes think I’m not ready, I usually find that we adjust pretty quickly to the next chapter. We are stronger than we think we are. Yes, transitions can be nerve-racking but we will make it…)
Recently I watched a mom hold her young baby, whose sock had fallen off, revealing a miniature foot that kicked and curled. These days my baby boy is a fourteen-year-old with hair on his feet. Oh, how I love babies. I’m not in the market for another, but I do love seeing them. I remember the days when we didn’t leave home without a bag stuffed to the gills with diapers, toys, wipes, snacks, a baby blanket and a change of clothes…While it was a relief to graduate from carting a closet around with me, seeing the young mom’s diaper bag sure brought me back. Parenting older kids is different from having a baby. Both stages involve challenge…and reward.
Actually, I think we still have the diaper bag tucked away somewhere. And while I no longer drag around diapers and baby toys, that bag sure can hold a lot. It probably could hold thousands of tissues. So if you see me at graduation with a bulging diaper bag, you’ll know why. And if you start getting teary, too, I’ll have plenty of tissues to share.