No One Prepared Me For The Last Day Of School!

Yeah, I’ll admit it: I cried on the first day of school. When my little precious 4-year-old got dressed up in her crisp new uniform and carried her backpack into school on the first day, I was overcome with emotion. I knew she was ready. I knew it was only a half day. But it didn’t matter. I was sad the rest of the day. My little girl, so recently an infant, was becoming a big girl.

She had a great year. She learned to write a few dozen words. She learned the value of currency. She can write her numbers perfectly. She made great friends. Her behavior and self-discipline is dramatically improved. She learned complex hymns and loves to sing. Her father and I couldn’t be more pleased with how the school year went.

She’ll be returning to the same school and the vast majority of her classmates will, too. We’re friends with all of the teachers and the faculty at the school and we plan to see them throughout the summer. So I just figured the end of the school year meant that we could sleep in more and have greater flexibility. I love spending time with my girls so I was simply looking forward to additional time with them.

Then it happened. The last day of school. And much to my surprise, I was crying again.

My little girl, so much bigger than when the school year began. And then I could see our next 12 years flying by as this one had.

I spoke to some friends about how surprised I was and they explained that even though nobody talks about it, this is a common problem for some parents.

My friend Pam said, “I was the sappy mom crying behind her sunglasses at the last day of school flag lowering last week. My boys had some truly great and caring teachers in a school that feels like family. So I got a bit weepy for the graduating 6th graders leaving this very small pond and going to a much larger one. And I don’t even have a sixth grader this year!”

Another friend, who has raised six beautiful children, chimed in, too. “My last baby is graduating from high school on Sunday! You won’t stop feeling that emotion for a long time. Every mile stone just makes you proud and grateful. Keep the tissues handy.”

That’s it. It’s the milestone aspect that makes me tear up. I know that my job as a mother is to prepare my little chickadees to exit the nest and be on their own. That’s why I do everything I do — to raise them to be functioning, spiritually healthy adults who contribute to society.

And yet every step they make along the way means we’re getting further apart. I couldn’t help but get emotional when my babies were weaned, when they learned to walk, when they learned to speak. The feeling doesn’t go away when the milestones change. (A notable exception to this was how happy I was when each of my children ceased requiring me to change their diapers.)

So this is part of being a mother. Pushing your little ones to achieve new successes but recognizing that their success is putting greater distance between you and them. And that’s OK. In fact, it’s great. I’m going to try to remember this for next year.

(Photo: Rob Byron/Shutterstock)

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