Last Friday local parents and students anxiously awaited the results of the lottery for the magnet programs in our school district. The results were delivered simultaneously via email to thousands of families throughout the county. Within five minutes of receiving the email notifying us of which high school program my oldest son got into, his phone kept going off - texts from friends excited to share the news of which high school they would be attending.
My son received a spot in his first choice program and was ecstatic. I immediately followed the instructions, went online and officially accepted the seat.
That night he couldn't wait to tell his dad and grandmother. After months of vetting different schools and their various programs, touring campuses, and drilling other parents of currently enrolled students, the wait was over. The decision was made. And where my son would be starting high school in the fall was settled.
All these months - years, actually, if I am to be honest - of research, worry, and paperwork were over. And all of this with little to no emotional response.
Until this afternoon, that is.
At noon I checked my email and staring back at me was his official welcome letter into the school and his program. It was addressed to the "Class of 2020."
That is when it hit me. My baby was going to high school in August. I held back tears as I read the information, then closed the email. Then....just sat there. In silence.
I recalled the little boy who cried when I dropped him off at preschool and would insist on bringing his stuffed bear with him. Bless his preschool teacher (who I hope is reading this) for allowing him to hold Bear Bear (at least for the first five minutes before putting it in his cubby) while he watched me from the window drive off, a boy so tiny he had to stand on his tippy toes to see out.
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I recalled his first day of middle school and how I watched him walk into a brand new school and become lost in a sea of classmates. Just like preschool, I worried about him all day and couldn't wait to pick him up and ask how his day went.
A flood of other memories, and along with them tears, overwhelmed me as well. Like the time he learned to swim, had the lead in his elementary school play, and passed his black belt test.
A young boy now becoming a young man who has never let a day go by without challenging me on some level. I'll admit, I don't always come out smelling like roses after these incidents.
Unfortunately, the first day of high school will come faster than I want it to and once again I will smile, tell him I love him, and wish him a great day before watching him disappear into a crowd. And only after the car door is shut and his back is toward me, will I allow a tear or two to escape and roll down my cheek.
You can bet I'll be one of the first parents in car line when the last bell rings on that first day, and I will once again greet him with a smile and excitedly wait for him to tell me all about his day. Little will he ever know how I cried on this day in April when I received the welcome email and wrote this blog post.
When the day comes for his own child to go off to school for the first time, and I see the emotion in his eyes, I'll share this post with him and hug him and thank him for being my son and giving me so many amazing moments in life. Most importantly, I'll tell him that no matter how difficult these bitter sweet milestones in parenthood are, they are the ones that make it all worth while.