The Journey: Understanding the next phase after the graduations
By SAMANTHA BRAZIE, Special to The Paper
The year is heading to its halfway point faster than any of us can seem to keep up. It’s time for sun, summer vacation and time by the pool. Oh, and let’s not move past the graduations just yet.
Every year as friends watch their kids graduate from high school and college, the bittersweet memories of mine graduating and moving on to the next stage in their life come back. Three have moved on, one to go and it has not gotten any easier to watch the next get ready to be solely responsible for the mark he will make on this world. What has changed for me is my understanding of my part of the next phase of their Journey.
We spend 18 years in a flurry of life altering events from the love and feelings we can’t describe properly no matter how hard we try at their birth to walking, school, birthday parties, sports, dating, and then BOOM. They’re ready to move on, and a lot of that next piece is done without you … or at least it feels that way. When my oldest moved out, I cried myself to sleep for a week. It may seem dramatic, but in some ways it was like experiencing a death in the family and I was not at all prepared for that.
I think we can all agree that our main job as parents is to raise good humans that are capable of taking care of themselves, but there’s not much we can do to prepare ourselves for when that actually comes to fruition.
It really took until last year, when my son went into the Marines and we were not able to see him for almost a year due to military COVID restrictions, for me to release myself from the constant worrying I experienced with the other two. Everything was so stressful last year that I had to learn to let a lot go. The military does as the military sees fit and unlike the other two, I could not communicate with him nearly as much and it made the time we had talking, on FaceTime and texting, that much more special. I started to realize that if the pandemic hit us just twenty years earlier, how different things would be for parents with kids that did not live close to them. Social media did not exist, cell phones plans were charged by the amount of minutes and video chatting was not a thing.
All of that is to say: parents, as proud as you are of your kids for hitting this huge milestone, it’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to feel your feelings and know you’re going to miss your kids. Just don’t get so lost in the sadness that you can’t celebrate one of the most exciting and scary points of their life with them. You have raised them for this time of their life for 18 years and while they don’t always act like it, they know that and they will always love you for it. Your child will develop new relationships that you are not a part of, they will move to new cities, states and maybe even countries, but we will always be their parents.
They are a piece of us, maybe even the best piece … and you know what? We are a piece of them. The time and experience you have had together over the last 18 years have made them who they are. Soon it will be time for you to decide what the next phase in your Journey will be, and I’m right there with you, friends.
“To raise a child, who is comfortable enough to leave you, means you’ve done your job. They are not ours to keep, but to teach them to soar on their own.” – Anonymous
Questions? Comments? Email me at [email protected].