No one prepared me for high school. Not my high school experience, my daughter’s. I mean yeah, there were those turkey necked ladies who wagged fingers when I was nursing my newborn and they all said, “It goes so fast.” And then they’d return to their decaf hazelnut lattes and book club.
Not one of the decaf latte book club ladies told me the truth. Not one of those ladies ever said to me, “Don’t let her go to high school.” That would have been helpful information. That little tidbit would have served me well.
Jane leaves at 6.45 each morning to catch the bus to school. She wakes herself up at 6am and completely independently dresses, packs and is waiting at the door. She needs no one to help her, in fact when I’ve tried to help I’m just in the way. At fourteen she is a capable and competent young lady. This sucks.
Every day after school there is volleyball practice. The late bus gets her home sometime around 6.30pm. When she gets off the bus she’s tired and doesn’t want to talk about the minutia of her day. She doesn’t need help with homework as most of it’s been done during free periods in school and the rest of it just requires some quiet time. She doesn’t have any conflicts with kids at school or problems with teachers that I’d need to get involved with.
School is just a happy easy place that has stolen my child for 60 hours a week. In fact that horrible happy school is so blissful that every sixth morning she doesn’t even have to be there until 9.45 and she could sleep an extra two hours and drive to school with her Mother Who Loves Her and probably even have a decaf latte on the way there. Last week she woke me up at 6am to tell me that she loves me but she’d really like to take the bus to school and be there early.
This morning I brought Alexander to school and as I drove away caught a peek of a few of the current 8th grade girls and thought I’d glimpsed my own until I remembered that she’s in high school. It was then that I realized she’d never wear a school uniform again and it dawned on me that I don’t even know what she wore to school. There’s a tug that every mother feels and it draws us to our kids. It’s what makes us pop into school on occasion with a burger and fries or how we decide to have a pool party for no reason. It’s the cord that was never cut and it pulls, no yanks me to my children and I realize I need them more than they’ll ever need me. I pulled the car over and took a few breaths but wasn’t able to shake the feeling of someone sitting on my chest.
My days are wrong when they don’t start with both of my children.
During the summer Jane and Alexander are sometimes gone for the same week of camp. After the initial We’ve Got No Kids Celebration (which lasts like 15 hours) Mr. G and I typically lay out plans to emotionally cripple the kids so they won’t want to leave us again. We’ve decided that we’ve erred in telling them there’s nothing they can’t accomplish (though clearly that’s true). We’ve decided to tell them that they aren’t very smart, talented, attractive, articulate, competent, independent or worthy and then we’ll set out to home school them and leave major gaps in their knowledge base. This way they will never leave home and I will never again feel the hideous abandonment of 12 hour days without both of my kids.
So when I see you with your tiny baby and I warn you that it goes fast and that emotionally crippling your children is the best advice anyone can give, please know that it comes from a loving place. Know that it’s the kindest thing any mom could ever tell you.