….of high school graduations. This year has stood out to me a bit more than any other year since my own high school graduation. Apparently there are a lot of 17/18 year olds who mean a lot to me. Oh and I’m a sappy mom now (when did that happen?)
So I’ve been thinking about these graduates, excited for them and desperately sad for their parents. These kids are getting ready to head out to college or the work force. Some have already left (I’m looking at my nephew), some leave in a few weeks and others will at least live up the summer at home. I remember when I first moved out to Utah, two weeks after high school graduation. I couldn’t wait to leave, I’ve always been independent and was excited at the idea of “adulthood”. What I didn’t realize as I loaded up my 1993 Hyundai Excel, was that we never return, not the same at least. It’s like that saying, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” I first heard that when I was young and relatively unchanged so it hadn’t hit with the same impact as it does today – looking back.
Life changes you, for better or worse and when you come home it just doesn’t feel the same anymore. A college student is in a strange transitional period, kind of floating, not fully belonging anywhere. Growing up, we were always in a hurry. Can’t wait until I’m a teenager, until I can drive, until I graduate high school, until college is finally over and I can be done with school forever. I’ve spent most of my life waiting for the next big milestone or accomplishment and not always enjoying the moment. I wish I had been more involved in high school and college, I wish I had taken advantage of more opportunities, rather than waiting for these times in my life to end.
I thought about writing a post with advice to my recent graduates but first off, none of them read this blog. Secondly, advice is almost always wasted because until we understand why it was given we don’t appreciate it and by then we’ve already found our own way. (Kind of like when people warn you about credit cards at 18 and you realize all of it was right…as you still pay off your debt at 25 – and for the next decade). Not that any of this stops me from giving advice. It’s like I see that the generation before me was right and maybe, just maybe the next generation will listen.
Bu instead, I’m going to be selfish. It’s only a short 16 years until my first baby will be graduating high school and I don’t want to find myself back here, wishing I had more fully enjoyed those 16 years.
Dear Future Me,
Enjoy the sleep deprivation, that’s not sarcastic by the way. I already miss the early morning hours with Stormy, just the two of us, both crying and nodding off to sleep. Keep that in mind as you jump out of bed at 2 am to a screaming Gertie. They won’t always want or allow you to cuddle them in the wee hours (and especially not the daylight hours). And holding the baby may bring you close to complete muscle failure, but they’ll never be this small again or want to be near you quite this much.
Don’t give up. You can tell them, ask them, show them, a million times to do something and sometimes it feels like a waste of time-but one day they’re going to do it and that makes it all worth it. Like the first time Stormy folded his arms for a prayer or when he finally started saying the words I’d been repeating for a year.
Enjoy the mess! You’ll forget how tired you were each night as you picked up Matchbox cars and crayons or find Cheerios…in every place imaginable. One day your house will beimmaculate…but it will also be empty.
Don’t stop having fun! Right now you’re Stormy’s best friend. You have dance parties together, wrestling matches, you let him help you in the kitchen. Things are going to change as the kids get older, but don’t forget to still have fun with them.
And lastly, it’s okay to be sad when they turn 18 and head out into the real world, because they’ve been your world. Aaaaaand it’s also okay to hope they cry too when they leave.