Friday it occurred to me (again) that #4 is graduating from high school and it’s the turn of a page to a new chapter in my life. For the past 25 years (!!) I’ve been getting kids up at 6, feeding them breakfast (I honestly can’t remember if they ever got cereal. I’m pretty militant about a Good Breakfast), packing lunches (ok the first 3 got school lunches until they finally got around to tellimg me how nasty they were, then we moved to Georgia where the school lunches were made in-house and were so good people actually came in to eat there. Fer real.)(so I only really packed lunches for #4, because he went to a completely different school 6 grade and up), monitoring homework, making sure everyone was tucked in bed and lights were out by 9. Summer relaxed, of course, but by mid-June I was kind of over Summer and ready to return to sweet routine (and no one else in the house for 7 hours). #4 graduates at 7pm Friday night. He has no school tomorrow (Monday), as it’s Field Day for the school and he’s going to claim Senior Privilege and go to the local coffee house to study for the 2 exams he has on Wednesday. I don’t know what he’s doing Tuesday, but probably it will be at the school, maybe cleaning out his locker and schmoozing with the teachers.
And then…he’s on his own to get up in the mornings. I will no longer be policing the electronics (well, I will a little bit but not to the degree I’ve been). I will not really care how late he stays up as long as he gets himself to work on time. Nor will I be paying out an allowance. He will start paying rent, or doing certain tasks in exchange for living here. (Above the regular chores, that is). If he wants something he will have to figure out how to get it for himself, whether it’s deodorant or software or or whatever. The extent of my responsibility is to let him have a roof over his head and necessary food.
All this change has me a little bit dizzy, once in a while. I’ve been planning a graduation celebration in his honor- a big Southern style BBQ with smoked pig and assorted sauce-laden carbohydrates (which totally count as vegetables around here), cold beverages both hard and soft, and possibly music if it can be arranged. All casual of course, as befits someone like him. I’m not even writing out invitations or anything. Purely word of mouth to whomever crosses my path and I think would like to come by and have a bite of pig and pat him on the back.
I spoke to someone at church this morning about the whole thing and she said *I* needed a graduation party as well, since I was finishing up 25 years of shoving other people through their education. Another person heard that and said “TOTALLY! We’ll have it at my place the Saturday following!” Which sounds like an excellent plan. I have very good friends.
It does certainly feel like I am staring at the end of a particular road. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has never been dull. I am certainly proud of how all 4 of my kids turned out. Each one has chosen their own particular path, and each one has turned out to be a solid, decent, and kind person. What more can you ask for? I would never have wished for them to lose their father when they did. Generally you imagine something like that happening when they’re 50 (or older), not when they’re 20’s (or younger). I have no idea what sort of impact that event will have on their lives, long term. But like I said, they’re solid, decent young men, kind and generous in their own ways. Some of them are tidy, some are messy. All are good cooks. Sometimes they take paths that are all twisty and weird and uncomfortable to watch, but knowing that eventually the path will straighten out, and that the twisty and weird are where learning experiences come from, makes is possible to watch and be confident that everything will be all right.
Goodness knows I’ve had my own twisty-and-weird, some of it (ok maybe most of it, which qualifies as “some” because it isn’t “all”) of my own creation, and all of it contributing to learning and growth and an occasional “ok that is not to be repeated”. I have a few, maybe several and possible almost 12 but that has yet to be decided, months to work on the next chapter, of getting used to all of them being out of the bounds of my full responsiblity, and of getting The New house ready to live in (gradually). Then I’ll move and a whole new chapter starts all over again.