All Hail The Senior Mom

My oldest son met his closest friends in elementary school, before he turned 10. They are all big boys now and don’t come around as often. In the old grade school days, they lived at our house. In the pool in the summertime, out front, playing basketball, tag over at the golf course. They spent hours in our basement, wrestling, video games, knee hockey.

I came home once, alarmed at the deep, unrecognizable voice emanating from below. “Who is down there with you?” I called, with great concern. The reply came quickly, “It’s just me, Mrs. Darwin, Mike. This is my voice now.” I don’t remember them coming over much after that. They moved on, to other basements, other activities.

Still, they will always be my boys. When I look into their grown up faces, I see missing teeth, awkward haircuts, and silly expressions.

They are seniors in high school. It is December. The home stretch. Applications have been submitted. The offers are rolling in (not really, but fingers crossed). I am excited for this next phase of my son’s life. But did it have to come so quickly?

I am not alone in wanting to press down a little harder on the brakes. I stand in a sisterhood. We don’t see each other as often, but we remain united. We are the Senior Moms, a title that snuck up rather quickly. And although I may be a bit more senior than most, we are equal in our universal love of our boys.

We met in kindergarten. Not our kindergarten, but it might as well have been. We stood in line with our boys that first day of school. Holding hands. Kisses goodbye. New clothes and backpacks. We signed up for library and Fun Phonics Friday. We raced for conference spots and lunch duty. We casually walked by during recess, to make sure they were interacting, communicating. (Was that just me?) We embraced separation anxiety, draped mom photos around tiny necks, tucked worry rocks into tiny pockets. We arranged play dates and field trips. Sent birthday invitations and thank you cards. We worried about reading levels and math skills.

We hit fifth grade hard. How did they grow so quickly, so tall? We stood an appropriate distance from our big kids, gave them their space. We let them walk to school alone and warned of white vans, stranger danger. We discussed environmental camp and why so long? We attended meetings. Got answers. PTOed. And when they left for that week-long camp, we tucked letters into pockets and secreted them to teachers, hoping our boys wouldn’t miss us too much. They didn’t. Eagerly, we anticipated their return and marveled at their Indian names, their rope bracelets. We worked on talent shows and graduation nights. We had yearbook parties and became seasoned room mothers. Smiling, crying, we watched the final teacher-student baseball game, back before the more politically correct kickball tradition. We cheered hits and stolen bases. We took pictures. And pictures. And pictures.

We grew apart in middle school. There simply was not as much need for mom-to-mom contact. Carefully, nervously, we fumbled through the new teen experience. Dances with loud music and shorts in the winter. Girls, from other elementary schools, looking at our boys in ways for which we remain unprepared. We bought cell phones. They lost them. We learned to text. They learned to prank. There were bullies. Drug and Alcohol summits. And group pledges to never, ever, ever do either. There were fights behind the town pool and frantic calls asking for names. Was it my son? Was it yours? There was pants-ing and protecting. There were clans and crews, divided factions of boyhood friends. And then, thankfully, finally, the madness ended. Sort of.

High school. We have learned as much as they have. And they’ve learned a lot. About friendships and kinships and judge-free zones. About battles and which ones to fight. Decisions and the best ones to make; rarely was there agreement, but those choices were made anyway. We set curfews, broke promises, and made mistakes. We had successes, too, and moments of unbelievable pride. We forgave and asked forgiveness. And they grew. Not just feet and inches, but hair and muscles, attitude and opinions. They matured from innocent and sweet freshmen boys to less-innocent and sometimes-sweet senior men. We have comforted them and screamed at them. We have hated them and loved them. And have gotten to know them. All over again.

It’s hard not to give those kindergarten parents the same clichéd advice we received long ago. Enjoy it. It goes too fast. But do, because it does. And to that guidance I will add this: hold on tight to those moms around you. For they will be your Senior Moms.

And you, the Senior Moms of the graduating class of 2016, you will always be mine.

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