I just got back from an end-of-the-school-year celebratory dinner with the family. Teddi survived 6th grade. Actually, she not only survived, she flourished. Yay!
And Tiger finished 11th grade. Taking all AP and honors classes and his GPA is still a whopping 4.4. He’s doing awesome. He’s officially a senior.
Yep, my kids are doing great – it’s the mom who is struggling. My son is a senior – thus so begins MY senior year, MY preparatory year for letting go.
I know it’s cliché. Those of my friends who already have their children in college know what I’m talking about. Those of my friends who just recently had babies will hear this umpteenth times over the next decade. Yes it is cliché, but it’s true – time goes too fast.
And now, with one year left – time is going even faster and it’s hitting home.
He doesn’t know it, but over the past two weeks I’ve been looking at him a little differently. When his back is to me, when he’s grabbing milk from the fridge, when he’s sleeping on the couch in the morning as I head to work… there is a visceral feeling inside that makes me tear up. I’m tearing up just writing this. Even the seemingly inconsequential moments watching him pet our cat or hold our dog are getting to me.
He’s almost 18, but he’s still my little Tiger. He's still that little boy dressed as a tiger. He's still that little guy I held in my arms. I’m not ready to let go.
And then come the questions in my mind. You know the ones, every mom has them. Have I done enough to prepare him for the real world? Does he know everything he needs to know? Have I gone to enough track meets? Have I been there enough for him when I’m trying to balance being the mom to two children, being there for Bart and being there for my company and my team? Have I given him enough inspirational quotes ;-)
He’s starting to find his independence. This summer, he’s looking at colleges. He’s volunteering at an animal shelter. He’s taking a summer course. He’s going backpacking and rock climbing for 9 days with Outward Bound.
And this summer, we’re also beginning what mom is calling “life” lessons. I’ve told him I’m planning on using the next 52 weeks to teach him life lessons he may not know yet – like how to set a table, how to tie a tie (he hasn’t needed to really learn that in our casual society), how to sew a button on a shirt, etc. What I haven’t told him is this time is really for me. I don’t care if he learns a thing… but it will give me precious moments to just enjoy being with him.
I’m not sure if many of you have read Sheryl Sandberg’s (the COO of Facebook) tribute to her late husband Dave that she posted on Facebook this week. It’s an amazing post and if you haven’t read it, you should. I cannot even begin to feel the pain she is going through. Through the pain, she’s managed to be an inspiration, but probably not in the way she thinks. There’s a quote in it where she is talking about a father-child activity and a comment her friend made:
I was talking to one of these friends about a father-child activity that Dave is not here to do. We came up with a plan to fill in for Dave. I cried to him, ‘But I want Dave. I want option A.” He put his arm around me and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”
Again, I cannot even begin to imagine what pain she is going through, but I loved the last line. How many of us still have Option A and don’t kick the sh*t out of it.
Tiger is here for another year. I’m going to enjoy every moment I can. I’ll be there to “teach” him things, but mostly just be with him as I prepare. I’ll watch as he takes final steps to total independence. I’ll hold my breath as he embarks on a 9-day trek into the wilderness and I’ll be there to celebrate with him when he comes out of the woods.
So, Tiger, here’s my inspirational quote for today: let’s kick the sh*t out of this next year.
And while we do, keep holding on and don’t let go… at least not yet – your mom has some preparing to do.