*So, for the record, there are actually 535,949 minutes in a year, but presumably that’s a lot harder to sing.
“Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?
How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love” From Rent
This Saturday my youngest son graduates from High School. This morning, he set his alarm clock to play Alice Cooper’s School’s Out. When I heard it go off, I cried. Okay, partly because that song came out when I was in high school (which is a very long time ago), partly because we all sang that on the last day of school every year, and partly because, I really don’t like that song. Yes, and because it’s his last day of school. Ever. As a kid. And I’m not entirely ready for that.
Last night, as he and our exchange student, Germany, were getting ready for bed, they were in the bathroom down the hall, talking about this big day ahead of them. They are both very thoughtful boys. They get a lot of things, on an emotional level, that isn’t always common with boys their age. Germany was lamenting the fact that he may never see some of the people he goes to school with again. Ever. He probably won’t. He was lamenting the fact that he’ll be leaving us in a week or so, and we have all grown very close. This topic sits heavily in our house right now. His parents are here from Germany, staying in a rental. Every time I try to talk to his mother, I tear up. It’s awful! Germany walks around saying sweet things, aware that the date is coming up on us. He will be as sad to leave, as I will be to see him leave. He has been a joy to have in our home, and an amazing gift to us and… my boy.
But, it was listening to my boy talk, in that small bathroom, that sent shards to my heart. “I can’t believe that tomorrow’s the last day. Then it’s real life… and it starts Friday. I’m not ready. I don’t know what I’m going to do.” I could hear the trepidation in his voice. I could hear Germany comfort him, and then I could hear that concept settle on both of them. I felt humbled by the enormity of this moment, for both of them… and all of the kids that have shared this journey with my boy. Yes, there’s college; there’s travel; there are jobs, and there are new paths, but this piece– these 12 year of growing together, and going to school together, have come to an end. Today.
When each of my other two kids reached this point, there was always another kid waiting in line. Or two kids. I knew I’d still be attending track meets; I’d be making waffles for the team on Saturdays; I’d be organizing books in the book room at the start and end of the school year; I’d attend banquets and school events; I’d make breakfasts; I’d drive, and manage small and large issues with my kids. I knew that it would all continue. Now it won’t. Today, he’s done with this chapter of his childhood, and so I am.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had several “Lasts.” A few Saturdays ago, I bought mini chocolate chips, bananas and strawberries for the final Track waffle breakfast. Over nine consecutive years, it feels like I’ve cooked 7 billion waffles! The coach and I joked that my waffle iron should probably be in the trophy case. It probably should. The kids have been so wonderful, through all of those waffles. There have been countless thank yous and gracious offers to help carry my things back to the car. There have been countless smiles and funny come-backs. Teens may have their difficult moments, but for me, it’s been a joy– spending so many Saturday mornings with these kids– so many delightful young people, who were happy to have banana waffles after their Saturday practice. That last morning, it was enormously strange knowing that I would not be back to make them again. And that many of those kids would be gone as well.
There have been final track banquets; award ceremonies, where I watched kids who I once read easy chapter books to, go up and receive honors for their academic and civic efforts; there have been final choir concerts, where I watched kids who have grown up in front of me, sing songs that reflects their journey. One girl shared that she had come through some very hard times– when she felt “lower than dust,” and so she sang The Story, by Brandi Carlile. It was so powerful, to watch her stand there, vulnerable and exposed, crying, as she thanked all the people who had supported her, and then… stand there and sing her mended heart out.
All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to
It’s true… I was made for you
I cried. And I gave her a standing ovation. What courage, to make yourself that vulnerable, and then show us your sparkle! What a moment!
Each time I’ve gone to another “last,” I’ve looked around me and paused, these past few weeks. Every other year, it was just another event, in a long line of others that would come. This year, I looked around at the faces and took it in. I noticed all the parents who have been on this same journey. Some of us have not been friends, some of them are dear to me, some of us have never met, some of us may not even like each other… but what I felt in these past few weeks was a well of gratitude. So many of those faces have been there: in the classroom, on the field, in the auditorium, in the book room or on the sidelines, at the waffle iron next to me… they’ve brought cookies; they’ve organized events; they’ve decorated gyms; they’ve handed my son his books for the year– they’ve been part of the fabric of my son’s life. In a full cafeteria of Track parents, in an auditorium of parents watching their kids receive awards, and at each event of the past few weeks, I have looked around, and for all that these mothers and fathers have done, for my child as well as their own, I felt nothing but gratitude and affection.
Unlike his siblings, Little Man is not entirely sure about what he’s going to do next. He’s taking a Gap Year, but plans have fallen through and there’s a big question mark hanging over him. I know he’s scared. I know he’s worried that he won’t be ok. I know the future can be a big, scary thing, as you step off of that stage, with your diploma in hand, even when you’re also feeling excited, enthusiastic and hopeful. But what I know best, that he doesn’t know is: that the world is his oyster. He is a strong, intelligent, fun, interesting, and above all good person. He may feel a little unprepared right now, but that’s what youth is for… exploring your world, figuring it out, getting prepared. This boy will fly, like his brother and sister before him. He may not be as prepared as he takes off, but I know he’ll soar too.
As for me, the nest won’t be as empty as I’d thought, but that’s ok; a little more time with my boy is not the worst thing that could happen. If he goes to the Community College for a year, he won’t be home much anyway. It’s time for me to figure out what’s next in my life, as well. There will be new things to cheer, new things to cook, and new directions to explore. It’s time to do something about that novel, and there are a lot of adventures I’m dying to make. There’s no diploma for parenting, but believe me, I’m graduating!
If I measure my boy by the minutes we’ve shared, the number is about 9,379,424, give or take a few, but the smiles and tears are countless, and the love… can’t be measured.
Good luck in the journey my sweet boy. You have long been the twinkle in my eye, now be the sparkle in the world. Good luck to all of the kids I’ve watched grow, and who I feel connected to. Thank you to all of the parents who have shared in the journey.
*Note: this is my 400th blog post. It’s a coincidence, that it falls on such an auspicious subject.
* * *
* * *
If you enjoyed this post, please hit like and then leave a comment; I love to hear what readers have to say. Check out Tales From the Motherland’s Facebook page (my goal is 400 likes this year), and Twitter, where I struggle to keep it brief.
© 2014 Please note, that all content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, please give proper credit. Plagiarism sucks.
Any ads at the bottom of this page are not endorsed by Tales From the Motherland.