It’s been four long years.
Four. Long. Years.
Although let’s be honest, the high school years fly by faster than the first six weeks of motherhood do. And ironically enough, there are moments during the high school years that sting with just as much exhaustion and frustration that those early weeks of taking care of a newborn do. (Albeit while your newborn never slept, your teenager never stop sleeping.)
But when you finally reach that blissful finish line of K-12 education that comes with a cap, gown, diploma (and no more detentions for being tardy or parent signatures of any kind required, AMEN!), who deserves the graduation party more- your kid, or you?
Sure, they’ll be the much deserved recipient of graduation gifts, professional senior picture appointments, and enough pomp and circumstance in the form of-Parties! Banquets! Honors Assemblies! Luncheons! Baccalaureate Ceremonies! – to make even the staff at Downtown Abbey weary.
And sure, they probably just went to AP hell and back, with a few quick side trips to college entrance exam and application essay purgatory. And sure, they’ve had enough, “Do you have a hall pass?” and, “Just where do you think you’re going?” interactions to damage them to where they’re slightly afraid of taking an actual step without an adult telling them where to take that step to. And of course they’ve sat on scads of benches, court sides, dugouts, bleachers, gym mats, fields of all shapes and sizes for the last four years, all while having strange parents yell at them to do everything faster, stronger, and better.
But it’s exactly who the real staff and coach is behind the graduate that really deserves the party- and that person is YOU!
Moms and Dads, you did it! YOU!
You took out a second mortgage to pay for senior portraits, yearbooks, prom nights, homecoming dances, athletic fees, movies, endless tanks of gas, lunchroom tabs, AP exams, SAT/ACT fees, college application fees, library fines, textbook fees, athletic booster fees, car washes, chocolate bar sales, flash drives, instruments, cleats, bats, graphing calculators, lab fees, and four years of red wine and chocolate for you.
You sat many a night through extra innings and overtimes late on weekdays, and through meaningless end of season games where parents of the other school’s athletes yelled at your own kid.
You patiently listened to hours of girl and boy drama about cheer and dance line, pinch hitters, and starting quarterbacks, musical understudies and drum line captains. You patiently listened to hours of conversation about the unfairness of it all- grading rubrics, pop quizzes, schedule changes, and so called bad dates, bad lunches, bad teachers, bad principles, bad exams, bad textbooks, and bad classes. But when you really wanted to have a conversation with your high schooler, all you got was a bad attitude and the silent treatment.
You fought about early morning alarm clocks, spending countless days screaming at the top of your lungs, “GET UP!” way before the sun was even up. And you fought about late night curfews, spending countless evenings standing by the front door waiting the see car headlights pull into the driveway, just so you could finally exhale the anxious and worried breath you’d been holding for hours.
You fought about dress codes and uniforms, and shorts that were too short, and hair that was too long. You argued about geometry solutions, rap music favorites, the proper speed to drive on the interstate, when to break up with someone, and when to drop a toxic friend. You’ve debated post high school college options, prom dress choices, underage drinking, who makes the best French fries, gun rights, and the importance of registering to vote.
Finally, over the last long, four years, your high schooler has probably gone from an awkward, dorky, skinny, shy, somewhat clueless high school freshman, into a mature, bright, poised, confidant, and well-rounded young woman or man.
And you? Well, if I’m being honest, over the last long, four years you’ve probably actually aged a decade and a half. But take heart Moms and dads, and give yourself a hearty pat on the back. Because that kid strolling across the stage, the wide eyed one who is waving at you and smiling ear to ear?
They are only there because of you.
Now go enjoy your party, you’ve earned it.
Melissa Fenton is a freelance writer and adjunct librarian at Pasco-Hernando State College. Find her writing all over the internet, but her work mostly on the dinner table. She is on Facebook at 4BoysMother and on twitter at @melissarunsaway.