I've been parenting now for nearly two decades. I have seen my firstborn go through years of school, finally culminating in high school graduation last May, which filled me with pride and shook me to my core at the same time. I realized then that while I had always thought the hard part was raising a child, it's actually harder to let him go.
I remember shortly after he graduated, I looked around at my three other kids thinking, "What have I gotten myself into?" In just a few years, we'll do another high school graduation, and a few years after that, yet another—but well before then, my youngest graduated preschool.
See, she is my last baby. This little girl was born seven years after her next oldest sibling, a sister, and I knew fairly soon after her birth that she was likely going to be my last. I loved pregnancy, and I loved babies, and I loved bringing a new life into our family. But I also knew that this stage of my life was likely over, and while I've made peace with that, I have still been socked in the mouth by the reality it has presented over the last five years.
Preschool was a valuable experience for her. As she had stayed home with us, I felt that giving her a bit of classroom experience before full-day kindergarten would be the way to go, and while separation was difficult in the beginning, she grew to love everything about school—her friends, her teachers, the classroom, the activities and the snacks.
And once the strains of March No. 1 in D (better known as Pomp and Circumstance) began to play, I had to focus on my breathing, like I was getting ready to give birth again.
The year flew by, as all years seem to do lately, and before I knew it, we were prepping for another graduation. Sure, there was no sitting at the table filling out invitations with my adult child, and no graduation gear to try on, but once the big day rolled around, I had some eerily similar thoughts.
And after we dropped her off at her spot in her school, I knew I was going to lose it. I was standing in her classroom with a ton of other parents, many who were there for their oldest child and not their youngest, and I wondered if I was going to be the only one trying to not burst out sobbing. And once the strains of March No. 1 in D (better known as Pomp and Circumstance) began to play, I had to focus on my breathing, like I was getting ready to give birth again.
No tears slipped out until after she cautiously walked by after posing for a photo in her little constructed mortarboard, but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't silently weep for most of the rest of their adorable performance.
The milestones pile up when you have kids, but now that we've raised a child from a wee babe to an adult who is over 1,000 miles away from us, each one seems to have another meaning—a deeper one I didn't quite know existed, but in a way, it always has.