Milly and I both became seniors this year. I turned 60 in August, and she entered her senior year of high school. This is more monumental for her than for me. After 15 years of school, each of them almost worse than the last, Milly will finally be done. While she’s been blessed to have the wisdom and love of her teachers in each and every year of her life, Milly was work for them. She needed a lot of one on one attention. She had clinically diagnosed learning disabilities, and an iron will. The way I’ve always thought of it, Milly learned very early that reading and writing were hard for her – nearly impossible, and she at times resolved that she just wouldn’t try. Eventually she frustrated almost everyone who tried to help her because for some reason, she improved at a pace that was ultimately, if unfairly, disappointing. And this girl, with a fierce will and a fragile heart, always knew on some level that she didn’t measure up. Even to lowered standards. My heart bleeds that this was the message that she got for the roughly 2700 days she was in school.
So this year, her last, I’ve sensed her liberation from the first day back in August. I hope that being free of the school yoke, Milly will have the chance to see what she is good at and what she likes. I hope that she can find a way to put in the hard work and the effort and be rewarded for her contribution. This kid needs to shine.
And, of course, I am nostalgic. Added together with Alice’s school years, this is my 21st year doing the school thing. Not as long a stretch as some, a tad longer than others, but for me, it’s a huge piece of my puzzle. I’m about to set that piece firmly into it’s place in the finished sections
I look wildly forward to the other side of this graduation day for the perceived freedoms it will bring. Silly ones like not having to set an alarm and wake up a surly teenager anymore, or not having to make a lunch that she won’t make because she says she won’t want anything, but you don’t want to go with that because then she winds up begging from her friends and you have a little pride and outrage to think that’s going on, so you go ahead and make a sandwich which you know you’ve seen her eat on at least one occasion, and you just hope that even half of it will make it into her gut over the course of the day, but you’ll never actually know – but you make it anyway, and now that’s done. I won’t miss the daily, hourly tension that I feel wondering if I did all I could to ease her way or push her or accept her, if I sought the right counsel and if I synthesized all the advice together with my instincts well enough. I had plenty of critics at the ready. (Divorce was a good thing but, like herpes, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.) (I’ve said too much on that already.)
The elements of being a Loud and Proud Stay-at-Home-Mom that I’ll miss will be preserved in the mountains of memories I’ll always have of this wonderful time in my life. I’ve thrived in the role of Mom. From the time my girls were teeny, I talked to them and sang to them and read them stories and played games and took them to parks and museums and concerts and parties. No cell phones for my babies. On walks, we stopped to smell the roses and to name their colors and feel the velvet petals and the smooth stems. (Yes, I over-protective and removed the thorns.) When they started school I volunteered. The first school year I was devastated to find out that some other Mom had already volunteered to be Room Mom. Never-the-less, I persisted. Over the span of years I was the PTA Treasurer for a dozen of them. I chaired or co-chaired the Walkathon and YeeHaw Days, I worked in the classrooms, drove field trips and I even got to do one of my first stand up gigs when I auctioneered at the big Spring Gala.
I formed life long friendships over the course of those years. My kids were nurtured by the love and care and understanding of their friends’ parents, most of whom I’m still connected to.
Overall, I feel that Milly and I have come to our natural place in the time scheme of things. I’m 60, as I said. I’m at a juncture in my life. Divorced, widowed, single, working, stable, happy, I step onto the next path with a little fear, a little adrenalin and a faint faith that whenever something leaves your life, something better comes to take it’s place. I welcome that for both of us.