High School Heartache

Hellooooo? *taps imaginary mic* Is this thing on? It's me, Rita, the person who used to inhabit this blog daily, sometimes twice a day actually but then I was like people are going to get soooo tired of me talking. And now look. Here I am, popping in literal years after my last post. What the what, y'all.

Anyway. I'm not here as often any more -- total understatement, I realize -- because I'm not allowed to write about my kids much any more. They're older now, and their automatic disclaimer whenever they do anything I laugh at is "don't put this on the Internet, Mom." And I'm like ... but my blog.

This blog, and the community of people I never expected to follow it, was built on candid stories about my kids pooping in things that weren't meant to be pooped in and, of course, the special rules for boy-moms. But this was when the kids were little and couldn't read, let alone object. Now they're actual people with actual Internet access (using up all my data all the time, WTF), and while they don't mind the stories that are already out there (WHEW), they aren't all that willing to share any more details now that they're *sniff* not babies any more.

Which brings us to the very reason I've come back here today, to the place that used to be my only refuge when parenthood got shitty. It's a big day for me, but even bigger for Colin, my oldest son.

Because today is the day he starts high school.

And I still see him as my little baby boy, as vividly as if I had just taken this picture on his first day of kindergarten:


He wouldn't let me take a picture this morning. Probably because he goes to online school -- I'll write about that later -- so he was wearing only underwear. I can't imagine why a teenager wouldn't want that on the Internet, but whatever.

Before he started kindergarten (I documented it in this post, if you're interested), I couldn't understand why people got so emotional about it. But that day, I cried like a ... well, like a mom who has just sent her first baby to kindergarten.

Fast forward a few years and a whole lotta life experiences, and I thought I was going to handle the first day of high school like a champ. I mean, I have four kids. I've been through four first days of kindergarten, four kindergarten graduations, one eighth-grade graduation ... I'm practically a pro. It's old hat by now.

But last night, at the dinner table of all places, it hit me. And I couldn't hold back the sobs (much to my family's mild-but-tolerant amusement, because they all think I'm nuts).

We are all shaped, in some way, by our high school experiences -- because those are the years when we're starting to really determine who we are and, hopefully, where we're heading. How will he be shaped? Will he hate it? Will he struggle, and if he does, will it define his self-worth? These are bigger, heavier questions than the ones I had when he started kindergarten, like "Will he have anyone to sit with at lunch?" and "What if he can't button his pants after he goes to the bathroom?"

Three first days. That's all he has left after today: three first days of school. There will come a time when not only my oldest son, but all my boys, will be gone from here. And Colin's entrance into high school is serving as a sharp reminder of how these years are hurtling by at breakneck speed.

I groan when I pick up yet another piece of dirty laundry or crusty dish out of somebody's bedroom, and I gripe when someone leaves the milk carton in the fridge empty and tracks mud on my freshly mopped kitchen floor. The drudgery of motherhood is still soul-sucking on most days, when I'm endlessly battered by a fresh tide of "no-one-gives-a-shit."

But then, on days like today, I realize how fleeting these days are. And how before I know it -- and it will be here, much sooner than I'd like to think -- it'll all be gone. This life I've known, active mothering, a vital part of who I am and who I've been, will be in my past. It will be still, and quiet, and clean.

And it will leave an emptiness in my soul so profound that I can feel it from here.

When they're little, poop accidents and stomach flu epidemics will seem like the worst things ever. Then they grow up and you realize that making it to the toilet on time should've been the least of your worries. That the phrase "bigger kids, bigger problems" is true, and those years you spent in the trenches of toddlerhood were just practice for the harder parts.

You get warned about what having children will do to your body. But nobody warns you about what it will to do to your heart.


Comments

  1. Lorelli starts high school this year, too. She doesn't start until after Labor Day but it is a big deal and I am not immune to a few tears here and there when I think about my little baby going into 9th grade. She started her first volleyball practice as a 9th grader today. It's been a wild ride...and now I feel like we are on a slippery slope to where she is a real grown-up!!

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  2. very happy to have you back :)

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