Mary Dell writes: My son, our eldest child, will celebrate his college graduation this weekend. Today, while I sit in the kitchen, I read the fine words of another mom whose child recently graduated. I begin to imagine the moment when our son’s name is called and he walks onto the stage to receive his diploma. I feel a familiar maternal adrenaline rush beginning to rise and recognize it as the same one I have felt every time I waited for my child to stride onto a stage or take his place at home plate. But I also sense a new ingredient. After the ceremony concludes and we drive back home, he will no longer be our “school child.” Exactly what will replace that two-decade long identity takes me to the edge of a parental abyss.
No longer will his schedule, and ours with him, be dictated by a calendar of September- May. The school schedule, with its rock-solid predictability, provided the foundation on which his life in the classroom and the sports field was built. For three months each summer, the structure relaxed but sprang back to life in the final days of August. Then, before the first class began, we bought new school clothes (last year’s were always too small, too short) and new supplies to load into a crumb-free backpack. The obligatory first day of school photos now fill our albums, shoeboxes and flash drives.
After Sunday’s college graduation, we will begin a new era with our son. We will place graduation photos in last pages in his childhood photo album, close it and put it away.
Lisa writes: Like every parent I struggle to understand where the years have gone. I gaze at three full-sized humans towering over me and feel like I just watched a movie on fast forward and would give anything to see it again at normal speed. And while that might just be a mom fantasy, Christmas morning is the one chance to rewind the tape and watch a small segment of my sons’ childhood played over again.
Barbara Brotman of the Chicago Tribune threw out a terrific question, “Anyone else have grown children who turn into excited kiddies at Christmas?” Her family has a wonderful tradition of packing lunch and going off to the zoo, and although her daughters are well into their 20s, the family tradition is going strong.
Her question she got me thinking about why I so love Christmas morning, a ritual new to my life. The answer I believe is that when we rise on December 25, my family rolls back the clock. For one morning a year I get to gaze upon my grown and nearly grown sons as they once were, small boys bursting with excitement.
Our college kids. We love them, we miss them — and then, when they come home for school breaks… we are ready to kill them. At Grown and Flown, we have explored life through these tumultuous years as we help our kids ready themselves for the adult world.
Here are some things to remember:
1. They love us but they love their friends too
Don’t be hurt when they give you the hello and goodbye and head straight out the door to see their old high school buddies. Continue reading
“You will miss me the most.” my last child surprised me by saying, “Because after I’m gone it is going to be really, really quiet here.” And there it was, the truth out of the mouth of a sixteen year old, a truth that summed up so much about parenting. There is something special about eldest children. We don’t love them any more than the others, but it is their very existence that changes us from self-absorbed young adults into doting parents. Speaking for myself, no one person ever transformed my life so dramatically. But my youngest son has a point, his departure will bring a similar, massive change to my life. My oldest child may have made me a parent but my youngest child will make me an empty nester. Continue reading
Mary Dell writes: Thanksgiving dinner is our favorite meal, hands down. Not only is it a day of fabulous eating, family and football, but it is also the day when we give our diets a hall pass, stuffing ourselves in a way we would never dream of the other 364 days of the year. But more than the food we savor, it is the scent of the feast that we love and that endures. Continue reading
While I trust you will be absolutely fine in your college dorm room these next few days with Hurricane Sandy heading toward shore, I cannot help but worry. You may be 22 years old but my instinct to protect you and your sister will remain undiminished throughout my life. Today it is the calm before the storm and we are prepared here at home. Unlike every other storm, this is the first time you have not been with us when the forecast has turned grim. A large swath of the eastern part of the country is in harm’s way and that includes you, dear. So, just in case you have not already thought of these things, please humor me – you are good at it – and keep reading: Continue reading