I will be the very first person to admit that I am no sentimentalist.
Never have been.
And, while you could never accuse me of being emotionally "cold", I'm not a "hugger-type". I guess, "reserved" and/or "guarded" would be better adjectives used to describe my "emotional climate", along with a "loud" and "sarcastic".
That is why I was so taken aback by my reaction at the prospect of my oldest child starting high school next year. It was the first time, ever, in my history of parenting that I felt like yelling, "STOP! Slow down! Don't grow so fast!". I feel like, all of a sudden, I can't catch my breath. I am watching my oldest child take his first real wading steps into adulthood, and I'm (for once!) speechless as to how we got here so quickly. I am becoming (gasp!) nostalgic!
Maybe it's because I can clearly remember his birth, his first year of life, his first loose tooth, his first encounter with a bully, his first time holding his new baby brother. Truly, the quote from the Gospel of St. Luke, "His Mother kept all these things in her heart...", speaks to me with an even more bittersweet tone lately.
Because, that's what we mothers do: we mentally record every special moment in each of our child's lives and then carefully etch it into our hearts. We can't help it, it happens automatically. It's as if the day we became a mother to each of our children, along with gaining a bigger heart we also gained a whole new set of tools to make this child a permanent part of our lives, our "makeup". Sometimes it feels as though the transfer of DNA went both ways.
And, now I find myself realizing how many things from my son's first thirteen years are now a part of me, of who I am:
He holds the distinction of being the child who "created" my motherhood.
Through his very steady newborn gaze and innocent, toothless grin, I caught a breathtaking glimpse of the purity of God's love for us.
When he had a particularly difficult day (or year!) at school, I learned how to use his inborn strengths to buoy him and how to change his weaknesses in to learned strengths that made him special. What was left of my selfishness from my "pre-kids" days was replaced with a new selfless maturity.
As he grows more independent, I learn how truly strong he is, and how he can surprise me with his level-headed maturity.
As my son and I continue to grow and mature together, I am beginning to feel slightly more confident that we are both ready for his high school years. In all the big and small things he does, I can see his self-confidence increasing exponentially. On some days, his maturity floors me. I'm sure the stubborn vestiges of nervousness that I feel stem from the fact that I can clearly remember my own high school years, and I worry that my husband and I have not prepared my son enough.
Will my son make mistakes? Stumble along the way? I am sure he will.
So, too, will I err and lose my footing.
Hopefully, these will become opportunities for both of us to grow as individuals, to grow as a "consultant-client" team (replacing the "manager-employee" model), and grow closer to God.
For the most part, I have truly enjoyed this journey of motherhood. It's the education I never expected (and without a paper degree!). It comes at an enormous "price" (some years are more "costly" than others), but the rewards are (hopefully!) eternal. My "major" always remains the same, the courses are constantly changing, but only as I need to learn new things. So, high school doesn't really scare me; I may just need to sit in on a few "labs".
Oh, and the professors at my University of Motherhood? They are absolutely DARLING!