Well, it is official. The school year is finally over. Hooray!
For many years, I felt deeply sad at the end of the school year. I was sad because of all that had gone unrealized over the previous 10 months. I was often sad that my son didn’t make any real friends. I was sad that he didn’t have many projects displayed on the classroom walls. I was sad that there had been no play dates or invitations to birthday parties. I was sad that I had not been able to make friends with the other parents. I was sad that no one was interested in what we were doing for the summer. And I was dreading September because, in all honesty, I had very little hope that things would be any better. The end of the school year highlighted for me all the disappointments and lost opportunities. And I felt utterly heartbroken.
In the years since my son moved to private school, things slowly improved. And in the days since my son’s school ended a few weeks ago, I have been feeling sad again, but it is a very different kind of sadness. I am sad because he will miss his friends and classmates over the summer. I am sad that he will no longer be working with many of the teachers he had this year. I am sad because he is saying goodbye to his soccer and track teammates that graduated this spring. And I am sad for the end of the comforting routines of the school year.
This type of sadness is a relatively new feeling for me. It is a sadness born of successes and progress. I am so proud and happy that he has had a great year and sad that it has come to an end. I am happy that I have gotten to know the parents of his classmates. I am happy that he has matured and tackled new challenges head-on. I am also filled with genuine optimism for the school year to come.
As all this is going on with my son, I am having a much harder time processing what is happening with my daughter. Yesterday she graduated from high school. I am reeling at the idea that high school is now behind her. It is a part of her past. It is over. This is such a huge milestone in our lives that I am realizing it is going to take me some time to really digest it. Every now and then, seemingly out of nowhere, I feel like crying. I am not even thinking about her leaving for college. I am not ready for that yet.
Maybe part of what is so hard about her finishing high school has to do with my own feelings about high school all those years ago. I had a mostly wonderful, sometimes horrible time in high school and I have thought a lot about that time in my life over the last four years. I think about how I wish I had been more actualized as a person back then. I reflect on the ways in which my parents supported me and the ways I felt let down by them. I have reflected on the mistakes I made and thought about things I wish I had done differently.
As I write this, I realize that part of what I am sad about it is that my daughter’s experience is written. It is what it is and cannot be changed. This chapter is over. I hope she looks back at this time with feelings of satisfaction. I hope she feels proud of her relationships, accomplishments, and successes. I hope she is at peace with the mistakes she has made along the way. And most of all, I hope that what my husband and I did for her was enough, because what we did is also in the past and cannot be re-written. Of course, our relationship with her is ongoing and there is so much more we will do for her and with her. But this part of our journey is over too. And I am sad about that. Proud of her, proud of myself and sad.
I look forward to sharing this with my husband and seeing how he feels about this transition. Hopefully, we will laugh and cry about all that we have been through as parents so far, and think about what we need to do next to be the best parents we can be to our kids. It is time for us to see how we need to change and grow along with them so we can be the parents they need.
And now we are planning for the graduation party. Oy. Okay, I have to go get another box of tissues now. I hope you all have a great week!