Last evening I walked my oldest child into the high school for his sports meeting for modified soccer. My stomach was filled with nerves, as if I was the one attending junior high in a few weeks. I looked down at him and his beautiful, freckled face as we followed the crowd of student athletes and their parents and was suddenly stuck with such profound sadness, my heart ached a little. I found myself getting choked up. He looked back at me, excitement shining in his eyes. I fought the urge to take his hand; as if it was Kelan and I was worried about losing him in the crowd. Forcing myself to swallow the tears brimming forth, I struggled to play it cool. He smiled and spoke to friends his age and a few older kids he knows. I stared in awe as he stood comfortably next to a freshman or sophomore who was easily six one.
“Are you nervous about coming here this fall?” I asked, looking around at the unfamiliar surroundings that appeared all too mature. How can this be happening? I thought, feeling scared for him.
But Braeden just shrugged. “Nope. I’m not nervous at all. I’m excited!”
“Really? Well that’s good. It’s going to be a big change.” I said to which he just nodded.
We filed into the auditorium and I listened intently to the Athletic Director as he explained the grown up rules for this new world my no longer “little boy” will be entering. Drinking, smoking, chewing tobacco, drugs will not be tolerated. Drinking, drugs? The words rang in my ears sending me into a panic. Oh my God, I’m not ready for this, I thought as I struggled with the need to wrap my arms around him and carry him back to the car- back to pre-school.
Later, after the meeting was over and Braeden had walked up to his coach like a little man and shook his hand, expressing his excitement to see him when practice starts, I sat alone and thought about the fact that my little baby boy is going to junior high school- the very beginning of the adult world. And I can’t believe it’s happened so soon. I just brought him home from the hospital yesterday- all four pounds and thirteen ounces of him. Swaddled tightly in his blanky as I smooched his fuzzy baby head, terrified of anything bad happening to him.
The reality of my children changing and growing, every day, and right before my very eyes hit home. And I cried- tears of joy, pride and sadness. There seems to be something profoundly significant about this change, more so than the first day of school. I actually felt ready for that and was pretty much fine with sending him off on the bus. But seventh grade has been a whole different ball game. The world seems to be on the precipice of making a very abrupt shove into my child’s life and I’m feeling a small loss of control.
This is the point where all the years of love, guidance, fighting, instructing, disciplining and life coaching begin to pay off- at least I hope. Now you may be thinking- Easy… it’s not like he’s graduating and moving to Japan. And I agree, I may just be an over emotional mom sending her oldest off to junior high. But the reality is every day from this point forward he will be taking slightly larger steps in a direction farther away from me. His responsibilities will be greater as will be the consequences of his actions. And, as I tell him all the time, his decision and choices will have a huge impact on his future- even now at the young age of twelve and a half.
The simple fact is, the world isn’t getting any easier and we are losing the innocence of our children at a younger and younger age, every day. So for those of you who are new to motherhood, don’t sweat the first day of pre-school. It’s really the graduation from sixth grade- the graduation from their childhood that you’ve got to be ready for. Seventh grade is a heartbreaker for sure. And to the other mom’s sharing in my plight- give me a call and we can shed a few tears together.