I have so much to say, yet I dread putting it down in words. Saying all that I feel makes this real. Graduation. In a few short hours, we will sit in the stands and watch you cross over into a new phase.
Eighteen years ago this week, I was back to work full time and headed to a conference. I was not yet even managing daycare drop off without tears and had to leave for four days. Unimaginable was the thought of not holding you each day.
You bring such joy to us–from your first steps at 9.5 months (and running a mere week later) to being the WORLD’S BEST straight-man to your little brother to ALL the sports–watching you grow into the man you are has been our pleasure.
Now all these years later, you are graduating high school and heading to college in August. I’m struggling. I am filled with pride and confident in your success, yet questioning everything: was it enough?
Maybe at eighteen ENOUGH is beyond your comprehension. The moms (and dads) reading this are nodding at my words because this is the keystone of parenting. Did I love enough? Did I spend enough time helping you navigate the obstacles ahead? Do you know enough to do your own laundry and balance a checkbook? Did we do enough to guide your decisions, give you confidence enough to stand up for what’s right, and to persevere in challenges?
Why is ENOUGH so important today? I can no longer be mystery reader in Mr. Kilar’s class, check your spelling homework, or volunteer at school to keep eyes on you. While we refused to helicopter parent, we wanted you to always know we were there if you needed us. Your dad and I loved our years of PTA and baseball coaching. The prospect of no Friday football games feels foreign–we’ve grown accustomed to cheering on #71!
ENOUGH is a question for my future as well. My job, my full-time career for 18 years has been MOM. While I have your brother home for two more years, the questions have already begun–will my new role be enough? Most parents wonder about this new time. While I will always fill my days, I’ve been defined by this role. Being a mom was something I craved since my own childhood, so the figurative end of this is staggering, daunting.
Be patient with my tears and constant hugs, my son. In addition to wondering if I have been ENOUGH, I am feeling like I have not had enough of being your mom every day. I know you will be just down the road at Pitt (lucky, lucky me–seriously), but you have never been stingy with hugs and “I love you’s,” and I may not have had my fill. Seeing you each day is my blessing and the empty room seems so foreign to me, a totally surreal concept. I feel like that first business trip all over again.
You also astound me with your resilience and bravery. I’d like to think we can take some credit for that, but I’m not sure we would bounce back from three surgeries in three years to stay as academically and athletically strong (with a good attitude to boot) as you have. Losing hearing out of nowhere in middle school was just another blip on the radar to you. You’ve taken it all in stride, and I am amazed by your strength. What I’ve learned from you will support this next chapter for me, too.
Will I survive? Of course. Moms, from the moment we learn of our babies, put our hearts on the outside but we also gain an armor like no other. We are tough and proud. But there’s change. Our major, singular role has shifted. Others will take on starring roles in your life and I have to learn to share your heart with them as well. Change is good, yet still change. It’s uncomfortable.
Ultimately, I stand in awe of you. I will do my best to not burden you with my tears and doubts, but will cheer from the stands, as I always do. And I will leave you with the life list I gave you at 16. Keep it close.