It finally happened. My first meltdown about my youngest bird flying the nest soon.
She graduated high school just a few days ago and up until that meltdown a few weeks before, I had been holding it together pretty well. In fact, I wondered if something was wrong with me because I’d been so cool about the whole thing. Even during the pandemic.
It all started with a conversation about graduation announcements. And about how we had not had any casual photographs made yet. I had planned to hire a professional photographer for a casual photoshoot that showcased everything that she is. I wanted her to have photos in her marching band uniform and her concert gown. Holding the many instruments she has played throughout high school. I wanted photos of her in the sunlight. On the beach. Carefree photos that were all about who she is.
I wanted the photos. She was indifferent. The conversation turned into some hurt feelings. And we did not get any closer to having photos with only a few short few weeks before graduation.
But I wanted the photos.
Then it hit me. It wasn’t the photos that mattered.
It was about senior year. And all of the things that were supposed to happen this year that didn’t. The memories that were robbed from us by the pandemic.
There were no football games to chaperone. No default bus trips with the band students. The ones when I had extra bags of Cheez-its to share with someone who needed a snack. The ones when I carried phones and earbuds and water bottles and jackets. The ones when I had the paper towels and the trash bags and the bandaids. None.
There were no hotel rooms to book. No honor band clinic weekends. No leaving work early and figuring out how to be in three places at the same time during said weekends.
All the things that had become just as much a part of my identity as they were of hers. This was about me learning how to be mom in a different capacity. I am no longer a mom of a school-aged child. Instead, a mom to a soon-to-be college student.
It was about me. Processing the end of a chapter in our lives. Accepting that some things would never be the same ever again.
Growing pains happen throughout our lives no matter who we are or what role we play in the lives of others. Nothing stays the same. Ever. Whether you are a mother, a daughter, a friend. A husband, wife, partner, or lover. Nothing stays the same. We grow. When we share ourselves with others, develop those relationships that give life meaning, we must always grow even when that growth hurts.
It was about change.
It was about growth.
As humans, we naturally resist change. I am certain that I am not alone when I say that I have shed many tears about these growing pains that have been caused by change throughout my life. But I am stronger and wiser because of them. I know that this high school graduation milestone in my daughter’s life is also a milestone in my life. A little bit of growing pain that will teach me how to be a mom in a different way.
I eventually got my pictures, though it was not what I envisioned. We picked a day filled with sunshine. She dressed cute and we ventured out, just the two of us. And that time spent with me playing photographer with my iPhone was more meaningful than any shoot we could have had with a stranger who was hired to take the photos. A stranger who does not know her like I do.
We sent the announcements out and shared the photos. She walked across the stage and received her diploma. She attended college orientation. And she is still my baby bird. And I am still mom. And I could not be more proud of her.
In the meantime, it’s summer. Cherish every moment with the ones you love, even when it hurts.
And while you do that, grow.