Our amazing children work their way through twelve years of school; they participate in sports, in academic clubs, in service organizations. They make friends and navigate the ups and downs of relationships of every kind. They make decisions on their summer jobs, social lives, and future professions. They are capable, and we know this beyond the shadow of a doubt, because we, their mothers, have made it our mission in life to raise them.
We’ve made countless decisions on their behalf, using our best judgment, hoping we were right, knowing that we did our best.
So why do we cry?
Senior year rolls around, and the nine-month tear-fest begins. We mark every “last,” we drink it in for them because we know they are caught up in the moment and not reflecting on the fact that it is a “last.” But we know these children of ours. We know that they are happy, or that they are just frustrated and ready to move on. We know that high school graduation is only the beginning of the life they choose.
So why do we cry?
My son and my husband have often shaken their heads at me over the past nine months. I come across a memory on social media that sets me off; I go through his Senior pictures, selecting those to include with his announcements and that sets me off. We discuss college – and oh, my goodness, he isn’t even moving out, he’s attending a State university 15 minutes away – and I get choked up.
I look at him and think about how much I love him and am soon sitting in a flood of tears. But…
WHY DO WE CRY?!
We cry for ourselves. Not for our beautiful, amazing, smart, funny, kind, capable (children) young adults.
We cry because we’re not in control anymore.
We cry because we know we’ve made mistakes over the years and there is no way we can fix them now.
We cry because of that one swim meet we missed, because of that one field trip we didn’t chaperone, because of that time we were up all night and let him cry in the crib for 20 minutes the next morning because we just couldn’t get out of bed.
We cry for the time that a teacher was hateful to him and blamed it on him and we believed the teacher because she was the adult.
We cry for the time that he was hurt by a friend and we couldn’t fix it.
We cry for all those times he said, “I’m bored!” and we assigned chores rather than taking the chance to sit down and play a board game.
We cry for every missed opportunity that we so vividly remember and they probably forgot a long time ago.
We cry because we want just one more day to turn back the clock and cuddle his little 2-year-old body; because at 2 years old, we were his world, his center, the most important human in existence and he loved us more than anything; because at 2 years old, we could protect him; because at 2 years old, we had nothing but time. Eighteen was light-years away.
We cry because we sometimes wished the hours, the days, the weeks away. And now we want them back. And that’s impossible.
So we cry.
We may tell ourselves that we cry because his future may take him far away for college or his first job. Or into dangerous situations in the military or in life. Or because someday — maybe already — we won’t be the most important person in his life. But those are not the reasons we cry.
We cry for what we didn’t do, for what might have been and all that we are leaving behind.
So we cry.
Lisa Williams is a photographer and a real estate assistant who volunteers with the Council-level PTA and sits on the Board of Directors of a local community theater. She has spent the past 18 years raising three children (currently 18, 15, and 13) and recently discovered a love for musical theater. Current production: Big River!