(Disclosure: this post has taken a few weeks to finish. Because life.)
Confession: I hate the end of the school year (and the beginning too 😉).
Not for the obvious reasons though. For me, it has always been a notable transition point. An indicator that we’re all growing up and time is passing.
And that soon enough our time together will end.
I recognize how much the boys have grown, marked specifically by the passing from one grade to the next.
I try every year not to dampen their end-of-year excitement and enthusiasm with my tears. (I shed a few in private for sure.)
But this year is worse. The oldest is ending middle school and we’re moving on to high school.
How did we get here seemingly so fast?
It seems like only yesterday he was sobbing his way through the doors of elementary school for the first time.
When he started middle school, I told him to just keep his head down and ride the waves. Because no one likes middle school.
And he did. Whether these were the worst years of life for him is obviously still to be determined. But I can say that we have had some pretty trying moments.
Seventh grade was especially the pits.
But as we moved through eighth grade, things have improved.
I can kinda sorta see the light beginning to shine. He’s definitely growing up – in all the ways.
He offered to help make the cake for his little bros birthday.
I’m sorry. What?!?
He started an evening ritual with the 10-year-old – they go outside and talk about their day.
No screaming. No yelling. No cross words. No shoving or fighting. Just two dudes, a ball and a chat about the day.
And I now have to tilt my head ever-so-slightly up to meet his eyes.
I can see them all growing – which fills me with a combination of pride and sadness.
Because it makes the end of this ride seem so much closer.
We recently listened to Phil Keogan’s interview with Tim Ferris – one of the best podcast episodes I’ve heard in years – in which Phil mentions that we spend 80% of all the time we get with our kids in the first 18 years.
Let’s pause a moment to let that settle in.
And there’s also the 18 summers is all we get post that was floating around Facebook for a bit recently.
SMACK! Did you feel that too?
That was harsh reality folks – that our time as parents is far shorter than we realize or imagine.
We’re already more than a week into this summer. I’ve dried my tears and have moved on from this (mostly) for now.
Far too soon the beginning of school will be upon us again and we’ll start the beginning of the end.
And I’ll shed all the tears.
But we’ll also make darn sure that we get the most out of every summer and all of what’s left of our 80%.
It started with a small bowl of potato chips.
But it quickly became a knock down drag it out with the teenager.
Of course, as with everything else in life with a teenager, it was about so much more than that. And so much less.
The boy was unyielding. Relentless in his defiance, defending and excuses.
He was utterly disrespectful and bordering on rude. Henry talked to him. I talked to him.
The boy didn’t budge.
We even went to bed frustrated and without any pleasantries. It was truly one of those fine mom moments.
And then this morning, like a miracle, he got up and I happened to be in the laundry room right outside his door. Without hesitation, he came and gave me a hug, apologized for being so terrible, and told me he loves me.
Let me restate that – he apologized for being terrible. And he gave me a hug!
This from the child who, in the course of his life, has rarely apologized for anything. Ever.
And unsolicited displays of affection? Let me reiterate that he is a teenager. And a he.
We are not the worst parents ever. (Yet.)
Maybe we are doing something right.
I won’t get ahead of myself, but it is nice to know that as he seemingly grows inches every day, his voice continues to sound more goose-like and less little-boy-like, and the hair on his face thickens, he is maturing in other ways too.
And maybe, just maybe we’re doing something right.
There is hope for us all yet.
I think I’ll reward myself with a bowl of potato chips 🙂
In general, the process of growing up happens so gradually that we barely notice, until a picture or a memory reminds us of how much has changed between what was and what is. But every so often a real-time moment occurs and the reality of life’s inevitabilities smacks you in the face so hard that you can barely catch your breath.
It’s not just the birthdays or the passing of the school years. Sometimes it’s buried in the everyday.
Like when he comes down looking like he grew inches while he slept.
Or walking onto the 90 foot baseball field for the first time and pitching spectacularly.
Or just the way that he walks away so big and so confident.
And when all three of these things happen in one day? Oh my.
Sometimes I think growing up is harder as the parent than it was as the child.