I wrote this article back in 2004 when my daughter, Mandy, graduated. I didn’t write another three years later when my son, Jonathan, graduated because the sentiment was the same. Hope you enjoy it.
It was Saturday; the day after the Lady Hornets won the state 2 A championship in basketball. Our family had made the long trek down to Birmingham with the other Hornet faithful and watched a well-earned victory. Sadness lingered, as most of the athletes were seniors, girls soon to venture on to college, careers, or possibly marriage and a family.
I thought back to my daughter’s first day of kindergarten when I said I wouldn’t cry. She would enjoy school and I wouldn’t have to hear her and her brother fuss all day. It would be quieter, I reasoned. When I arrived at her classroom, I had to fight back tears. Life was going to be very different from this day on. I cried all the way home.
Elementary school was an adventure: nap time, strips pulled for disobedience, harvest festivals, beauty walks, cheerleading, fourth grade and the endless fund-raisers. My child grew from a tiny five-year-old to an excited, somewhat awkward pre-teen. Sixth grade graduation came and went. We purchased the nice dress, snapped tons of pictures, and tried to hold onto all the good memories we could.
High school proved to be a whole different story, full of struggles and victories. My daughter wanted to be grown and independent, yet needed a security beyond my ability to give. Our days overflowed with band competitions, ball games, “going out” with boys, and endless school and church events that turned my time into “taxi” service.
Her sophomore and junior year sprinted by at a speed I didn’t think possible. Her classmates grew and matured into men and women ready to master their world. The class drifted apart as some attended trade school for half the day. Classmates stayed absorbed with sports or societies, while others worked part-time. Some of the class moved, and a few dropped out of school.
The senior year finally arrived, bringing with it elements that unified the students. Starting with school pictures, and later ordering invitations and cap and gowns brought a sudden realization that this was it. They’d really made it. Senior meetings and discussion of prom blurred as my daughter crammed study, work, dates, and church into twenty-four hour days. I told her to enjoy it. Senior years only come once. After graduation everyone goes their own way, and reunions are not the same.
At times, the ups and downs of high school flabbergasted me. Again and again I had to remind myself that I was once a teenager too. Overall my child gained knowledge and experience that has served her well. I learned so much myself during these school years and I found the years ahead better and fuller because of what we learned together.
At one of the last ball games, I spoke to another senior mother. I mentioned how hard it was to believe our children were graduating. Emotion choked me as déjà vu hit home. My life would never be the same again. I’d always said I wouldn’t cry when she started kindergarten. Or at graduation. Something told me I’d better carry plenty of tissue anyway.
I’m glad I did.