In six short months, our youngest son will graduate high school. I can honestly say that on the outside, I'm doing a happy dance. Everyone that knows me knows I have a countdown clock: 185 days to be precise. I reference it often. It's the culmination of getting both of our children through grammar, middle and high school, and getting ready to unleash them on the world.
On the inside, I'm a little sad though I'm not quite sure why. I don't think things will change that much once we hit 186 days. He'll be off to college a few short months after graduation, and thankfully he's narrowed down his choice...I think. He'll still live at home when he's not at school, as will his brother until he finishes and moves out on his own.
It's been almost 22 years of having a third, then fourth, body in our house. Sometimes I wonder what my husband and I will talk about when it's just the two of us. The school years have been filled with homework and projects and athletic practice and games. It's been filled with permission slips and a million questions: Mom can you help me? Dad, my truck is acting up, what's wrong with it? Mom, what's for dinner? Dad, help! We need a trailer for the homecoming float. Mom, I need a black dress shirt for formal. Dad, help me clean up my mess. Year after year we celebrate our anniversary and our conversations more often than not lead to our kids (their friends, their teammates, coaches and what is going on in their lives).
I've been called the homework Nazi by every member of my house. It's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm the one that goes through the portal and questions why a 0 was received for a day of gym, or remind my husband to say congrats when a kid gets an A on a big project. We've encouraged or boys to make good choices and get their stuff done early. My husband tells them to treat schoolwork (high school and college) as a job. Get it done early, then you can have fun. Thankfully, both of our boys have been and continue to be good students, albeit sometimes lazy ones.
Earlier this week my husband and our youngest went on his second official college visit. It's the college his brother attends, so he's pretty familiar with it and quite a few people, both staff and students, already know him by name. After conversations with the coaching staff, they headed over to admissions to get down to the details. I.E., what kind of money is available? A great GPA, a pretty good ACT score and AP credits is a start. As my husband was listening intently to the questions from the Dean of Admissions, he made a quick phone call to me to find out about some details, while our youngest piped up and said "Dad, don't worry about it. Mom will handle it." I laughed when he told me that. Because I do handle that.
Lunch that day was with football players and fraternity brothers, and even his own brother. As I understand it, questions flew about offense and defense and why that school was chosen. There was a comfort there, which is a good thing. Even if that school isn't the ultimate decision, he made some new friends.
I'm disappointed I missed that day, because I did go to every visit for our older son. It's not that I wanted to miss it, but life (work) got in the way. It doesn't make me less of a parent because I couldn't go to a college visit, but I was still a blubbering idiot after dinner and I couldn't figure out why. I'm just so used to being involved that it got the best of me. In retrospect, it's probably menopause.
On the flip side of me handling school stuff, when either boy has a problem with a science project or truck or snowmobile or something equally technical, they head right over to dad.
Mom kisses booboo's, dad tapes them right up. It's what we do as parents. Can I work on a science project, sure...but it might not be pretty. Can dad whip up dinner? Absolutely.
How is it possible that after raising your children that some people are emotional wrecks and don't want to let them go? I'm not pushing our kids out the door by any means. I will miss them terribly when they aren't living under our roof. I'm most proud of the fact that my husband and I have raised smart, healthy, polite and driven children. Even when they graduate college, find their career, fall in love, get married and have their own kids, I know in my heart that we did everything we could to raise them the best way that we knew how. Our house has been filled with love, and support, openness and sometimes arguments that could be easily solved. I think my husband and I have done one hell of a job raising our boys. Down the road, I do expect phone calls and visits often, because that's the type of family we are.
We do not boast a cookie cutter family dynamic where everything is rosey 100% of the time. If anyone says they have a life like that, they are lying. Life is messy. Life isn't meant to be perfect. If it was perfect, we would have won the lottery, built a 3,000 square foot cabin in the woods with a 4,000 square foot garage (if you know my husband, you know why), and would never work another day in life. We work hard for what we have. We never lay blame where it isn't deserved. If our boys do something wrong, they own up to it. Granted, our kids haven't really gotten in trouble, because they have made good choices and stayed out of situations where they don't belong. There was also a fear of getting a boot up their ass...but that's a story for another day. We aren't the type of people that assume their kids are angels like so many other parents believe. Our boys have just learned stay out of where they don't belong, and solve problems if they need to instead of laying blame where it doesn't belong.
Six months down the road until we can officially claim we've gotten our children through school. College is still looming and degrees have yet to earned. I can comfortably say I'm looking forward to seeing what our kids do next.
What I want our boys to know is that even though you are each embarking on the next stages of your life, you will always have a place at home.