Next Step Therapy Blog: ‘Senioritis’ for Parents

Tracy 1Tracy Cowles, CEO and owner of Next Step Therapy, submitted the following article: “Senioritis” for Parents.

I recently wrote a blog about the joys of watching your child become a young man/woman adult, and that I had enjoyed each and every stage without pangs. It was all true, and I meant every word. However, as with everything in this life, things change on a dime, and what was a beautiful, happy thing yesterday is now a stressor today.

Like many of you, I get smacked up alongside of the head occasionally. It happened twice this week. After surviving the final varsity football game, senior night, college tours, and college applications with excitement for my oldest child about to leave the nest, I found myself completely undone at a High School Christmas concert. Seventh grade choir sang (which included my youngest), and then eighth grade sang. All beautiful. But then, the Madrigal singers came on, and the Madrigal men did a hysterical rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas. I watched my graduating senior sons’ friends act and sing, laughing at their antics, when it suddenly hit me that next year, when I attend this concert, those same boys won’t be there. Geoffrey and Luke will have graduated and gone to different Universities. At best, I might get to keep up with them through their parents on Facebook.

These boys have a place in my heart. Am I their mothers’ best friend? No. Did I foster them? No, I didn’t. But, at every awards ceremony, at every sporting event, at every dance….I looked for them, and cheered them on, and kept track of them, because they were my sons’ “people,” so naturally, they became my people, too.

I don’t exactly know how it happened, but between girls that my son “dated,” and boys that I took to Steelers games, WVU games, camping, shopping, out to eat, or had overnight at my house, these classmates of my son became important to me.

So, I left the choir concert feeling unsettled, and then attended the Franklin Nights football banquet a few days later. When Ty took the microphone and gave a speech to the former coaches and current coaches, while encouraging the underclassmen to carry on traditions, I could have wept over the fact that when I met him 4 or 5 years ago, he had moved into this area and was a duck out of water. Now, he’s a kid that can handle speaking with a microphone in front of 250 people. Another kid that I have cheered on over the years, who, six months from now, most likely won’t be where my son is. He’ll be moving on, living his own life across the state.

I am surprised by the fact that I am totally ok with my son graduating and going to college, but am “not ok” with all of his friends doing the same. But, tonight, I finally figured out why I feel the way that I feel. When Noah graduates and goes to college, he will call or text me almost every day, like he does now. I’ll still be a part of what he is doing. But, his friends…..they are most likely going to be lost to me. Ouch. These kids probably have never even considered that I love them too; that I would ride in on my white horse and help them anytime that they needed it. To them, I’m just Noah’s mom. To me, they are kids that I could easily love as much as my own.

So, Tyler, Kahlil, Dalton, Abbey, Zac, Tanner, Luke and Geoffrey….you don’t know it, but in addition to your parents, I keep track. I see your successes. I am proud of you too. And, right this minute, I am anticipating the loss of you six months from now. I cannot be the only parent who feels this way. I have known some of you since Kindergarten, when you were five or six. I watched you grow up. You came to my house for Halloween parties, birthday parties and overnights. Your parents allowed me to take you places. My kid talked about you like you were the second coming. I took responsibility for you, guarded your life just the same as I did my own kids. I would have saved you in a house fire. I would have protected you from a home invasion.

But now, you are on the same journey as my son. I am proud of each and every one of you – the choices you have made, the young adults that you have turned in to. In some way, I wish that I could keep each of you close to me and my heart.

So, there it is, dear readers. One day a blog about letting your kids move through the stages with joy in your heart, and two weeks later a blog about “Senioritis for Parents” where you mourn the anticipated loss of connection with kids you’ve known for 12 years.

This parenting thing is a long, tough, heart-wrenching deal. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, as parenting is one of the best things that I have ever done. But, sometimes, this parenting thing keeps me up at midnight, trying to put my feelings into words. When I held my first baby in my arms, and felt that protective love well up inside of me, I never dreamed that 17 years later, I would feel that way about 12 of his friends. Who knew?

~Tracy


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