So it’s getting to be that time of year again. Some years, I get to participate, other years I’ve been able to skip it. Those are the years we save our money and our sanity.
What you wonder am I talking about ?
Having the privilege to graduate another child out of school.
The culmination of years of homework, teacher meetings, open houses, class parties, field trips, school projects, peanut butter sandwich lunches, new clothes shopping, tons of school supplies, sleep overs, class birthday parties, band concerts, yearly school pictures, dances shows, football games, fun and unexpected calls from the Principal ( if you have boys you may understand this better 😉 ) early morning practice sessions, after school tutoring, school dances, boy friends, girl friends, college applications, college testing…
Ok.. I could go on… the list of things you do in a child’s school career is rather vast and endless. At times you wonder if you’ll ever get to the end of it.
I can say I’m there. My final one is exiting school and heading into the big world with college in her future.
We’ve ordered announcements, taken final pictures, and done the hundred and one things that seem to come crashing in the last few months of school.
I gotta admit this. She’s the last of my big brood. By this time I’ve pretty well felt like I could lead parent/teacher night. Or that I could predict with certainty that when I showed up for another year starting in dance, it would be same lines, new year. Or that some things in school just never changed much and it was comforting already knowing the drill on it.
I was the older, smarter more seasoned mom. I figured that in a few years they’d get it too… it takes some moving through the ranks before you learn you can say “no” to things.. 😉
By the time my daughter hit Senior status I was pretty much like… “just deliver me the necessary paperwork”.
I knew the drill for it all. Many of teachers through middle and high school had already had the rest of the crew… a new year was like old home week… meet and greet… just another new family face rolling through their room.
Although in all fairness to my daughter, one of my sons had made quite a um…mark… on several teachers going through various grades.. she’d get the “ohhhh… you’re so and so’s sister?”
If you have kids then you may have one of these… the high energy, high maintenance, social, outgoing never slow down, yet charming, kid.
Anyway, thankfully, the daughter child was probably a bit more quiet and laid back than previous brood members who went through.
No matter what the bottom line was this…
Get them through. Get them on that stage wrapping their hand around that cherished diploma.
I swear when middle son walked the stage it was ALL I could do not to stand and cheer and whoop like some wild woman. There were debatable days in his final year I wondered if we’d make it.
Now each class has it own “cream of the crop” the “crème de’ le crème” right? You know the ones who’ve been marked since first grade to be the Validictorian ? Every kid in the class knows it. They simply accept it as what’s going to be and move on.
Then there’s the whole “class ranking” thing which was making my daughter get all twitchy one day till I reminded her…
“they don’t hang a number around your neck when you walk the stage. No one will know, and honestly, no one cares..”
I reminded her when she’s out in the real world it will be completely irrelevant as well.
Then there’s the whole college thing. The angst of wondering if one will want her… if she will “make the cut” or be found acceptable. It doesn’t help when her friends are collecting admin letters like candy at a parade.
I reminded her that she could only go to one school and she will still get her degree to do what she wants.
In a community that’s big on pushing college it’s a lot of pressure on kids ( and parents) to feel like they need to perform up to some lofty expectations.. who’s.. I’m not sure…
’cause you see I have ordinary kids and it’s ok.
I’ve never tried to make them do things they didn’t want to do.
Support them in their goals and plans, yes. Push my agendas and desires on them, no.
We learned the hard way when we registered my oldest son for a semester of college, paying cash for it so he wouldn’t have any debt. He went like… three times? and then he said something that really paved the way for the rest of the brood yet to come down the college path way…
He said “you never asked me what I wanted to do. IF this was what I wanted”
Ouch. Point made.
Did I consider him any less successful for not jumping on the college boat? Not at all. My son has always had an artistic bend and was in a band. He traveled around the country for months with them. He lived every 19 year old young mans dream… being in a band in a new town every night, living for those moments on stage. Living in new places and eating off value menus and sleeping folded up in a van driving down highways in the dark of night. He didn’t do that forever. He settled down and works with his brother now in a family business.
Two of my other sons have wanted to pursue college. One went for awhile and then quit to take on a floundering business that he has turned into a success over the past few years. One is in college right now working on his degree.
But through these years of raising kids and wanting them to find and embrace what their own passion is I realized it’s ok, really ok, for them to be ordinary.
And I don’t mean that in a plain vanilla way or that they lack value, substance and intelligence because they are all very bright, funny, and clever. They know how to learn and teach themselves things and they are always actively learning.
I mean they don’t have to live someone else’s ideals or expectations or get caught up in the hype with friends and feel like they are somehow “less than” ’cause they perceive the friends are somehow more successful. I don’t need to have them do things to feel validated as a parent.
I saw a T-shirt recently that made me laugh ’cause it’s how I feel so often. It said:
“Worlds okayest Mom”
Maybe I need to buy it. It reminds me I can be me, can be the best mom I can without having to “do it all” or be at every meeting or every event, or get my kids into Harvard.
At the end of the day its about my kids being happy, successful, productive adults and maybe even a bit, ordinary.
However, if they make an impact in their personal worlds and are decent human beings, I will consider them, and myself, quite successful indeed.