Eighteen years later, this sweet baby boy is still my sweet baby boy. But now he has 12 years of an amazing education to guide him through his upcoming orientation at the University of Virginia, and, ultimately, adulthood.
This is not my first time preparing a child to leave home. I’ll admit, the first time around I was an emotional wreck. My middle child took the best leap of his life and chose to attend a boarding school about two hours from our home. I am so proud of him for having the courage to live away from home; his school is helping him along his journey to becoming a successful young man as he enters his senior year. His older brother has endured the dreaded junior and senior years at home and is now the one leaving the nest.
In the past, springtime has meant a multitude of cheer for me. Whether it be the vibrancy of the flowers or the melodic chirping of the birds, everyday brings something new and colorful. However, this spring is different for me as it means more than the end of the school year or the planning of summer. Many of my friends are planning their springtime around graduations, first communions, weddings, and many other events.
All of these have one particular thing in common, they are a rite of passage.
My eldest son is graduating from his beloved high school and venturing out into the world on his own. The excitement I feel for him is unparalleled, and while I feel anxious at times I know this is the next step for him and that the school he has chosen could not be a more perfect fit.
The angst finds its home right in the middle of my conversations with other senior mothers: Are you excited for more free time? What are your plans for the future? Have you booked rooms for orientation? What about parent’s weekend?
We are focused on co-hosting graduation parties and planning great summer trips before the “kids” head off to college. We are many, but we have become one. One group of parents are having dinners together more often. Talking about book clubs. Sharing photos and having late night phone calls and emails. This experience has brought us closer than all of the other years of our children’s education.
For many of my friends, this is the graduation of their youngest child and they are experiencing the range of emotions that comes with being an empty nester. They have well-earned tears of prideful joy and loss…everything coming their way is new to them. Most of them are excited to welcome this new stage of their lives as they discover new things about themselves, just as their children are doing the same.
One mom is getting her real estates license. One couple is in the midst of planning an around the world travel trip. One dad is planning on turning the study room into a sauna (I particularly like this idea!). Another couple will have three boys in three different colleges, so any free time will be spent visiting each son. I overheard two dads saying that they’d like to volunteer at the nearest firehouse. This is an amazing time to explore and, sometimes, reinvent oneself.
As for me, I will be a supportive friend, a tearful mother as my eldest son heads off, a devoted mother to my daughter and son who will be experiencing their last years of high school, and busy making sure TSALT is a welcoming space to mothers, graduates, and anyone else whom we are lucky enough to meet.
For those of you needing graduation dresses for you or your daughters, or even wanting to reinvent yourself…come see us at TSALT. Our boutique is all about women supporting women, no matter the stage of your life. Please share your stories! We love to hear them!
And in the words of two great philosophers…
“Give the one you love wings to fly,
roots to come back and reasons to stay” – Dalai Lama
“How lucky I am to have something
that makes saying goodbye so hard” – Winnie the Pooh