My baby is graduating-Cousin Carla Rants. Odd introduces a new Wednesday weekly post. I haven’t told Carla yet; I suspect she will find out though.
By way of introduction, here are five random things about Carla:
- Carla believes that Disney is the happiest place on earth.
- Carla’s cookies are the best ever. Really, if you thought your cookies were good, I am sure that they are, but they are not the best ever. Of course, if you would like me to sample one, just to be sure, I would be happy to send you my address.
- Carla can read and write backwards; she taught herself so that if she was ever on the Johnny Carson show and ran out of things to talk about, she would have this skill to demonstrate.
- Carla lets her boys combine fireworks and gasoline. Blowing things up runs in the family.
- Carla has never had a pedicure.
I was never one of those people who always knew they wanted to be married and have kids. Once I was married, I was never one of those people who couldn’t wait to have kids. When I got pregnant the first time and miscarried, I told myself that things like that happen for a reason. When I miscarried the second time, I was pissed. The lunatic, alcoholic, drug addict who lived next door⎯remarkably married to some type of abusive, second cousin⎯had four (count ’em) healthy children. I lived next door to her for four years and never saw her without a kid attached to her nipple.
Anyway, when I finally got pregnant the third time, and it seemed to stick, I refused to read any of the books; although many of them are helpful and informative about what you can expect, they also tell you every inconceivable thing that can go wrong, and I didn’t want to jinx anything. I was so sure that everything would come naturally. I thought that mothering was an innate gift that each woman is born with. As I labored⎯and I mean LABORED⎯to have him, I calmed myself with thoughts of how much I would fall in love with him as soon as he was born. However, when the doctor held him up and said, “Here’s your son!”, I took one look at his unnaturally ugly face and replied, “Um, no thanks. His Dad can hold him, I’ve done my time.” I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when the nurse came in to talk to me about post-partum and discuss why it is wrong to hurt our new babies.
I have never taken to mothering as most women do. I remember parts of it being really hard. I remember complaining to friends about it. I remember whining and bitching about it at times. But when I look back on it, I remember loving it. I remember loving that I took them to school and brought them home. I loved baking the snacks and having the friends over. I loved driving car-pool and listening to them talk. I even loved it when they would ignore me and tell rude jokes and slip in curse words to see if I would say anything.
My only regret, looking back, is that I didn’t take the time or wasn’t mature enough to appreciate each and every day like I should have. I have never been good at “being in the moment”; I was usually so focused on planning and supervising and⎯yes, I can admit it⎯controlling events that I didn’t actually participate very much. I’ve been working on this and I am getting much better.
This year I started with the mantra: “It’s Abby’s senior year and I don’t want to miss a thing!” This meant that when she needed someone to drive the percussion section of the band to a competition, I said, “Yes! I’ll go.” When she came home and said her boyfriend was playing soccer 40 minutes away and asked if I would go with her, I immediately called Bob and told him dinner was off; I was going with Abby. I try to be happy and supportive.
“Whoopee! Mom, it’s my last first day of high school!”
“Aren’t you glad Mom? It’s my last home football game.”
“Yay! I’ve been accepted to college five hours away!”
“Woohoo! My last semester of high school has begun!”
“Yeeha! I have six weeks until graduation!”
With each milestone she met, I tried my best to give her what she was looking for: the smiles, the cheers, and absolutely no tears! Those are the rules. This is what happens when we are living in the moment. I want to live in the moment, but I miss the numbness of directing the moment. Although I was physically present at every⎯and I mean EVERY⎯moment of their lives, I sometimes feel like I missed it. I’m not sure this is better, but it sure is different.
I am not a crier; I can truthfully say that I almost never cry. Not at weddings, not when my kids were born, not when I got divorced: almost never. I have hovered on the brink of tears for the last six months. The first time it happened, it was weird and unexpected. I went to register Abby for school while she was at camp, and when I got back to the car, holding her senior schedule, I felt a tightness in my throat and a sinking in my stomach. This strange burning in my sinus cavities. When I figured out that I might cry, it snapped me out of it, and I went merrily on my way. All year I have been creeping ever closer to the abyss. There are times when something funny will happen and I will laugh, and then laugh harder, and then suddenly I realize that I am about to burst into tears. It feels like being on a roller coaster, inching toward the top and having to pull myself back before gravity takes over and pulls me over to the other side.
So my rant is this: I am mad at myself for not being able to fully participate and be happy during this very happy time. Abby’s graduating. She’s going to college. She is happy and smart and was accepted to her first choice school. She loves me and knows I love her. She is only going to be a few hours away. She is growing up and she is beautiful and kind and perceptive. She is my biggest success. And this is my new mantra that I repeat to remind myself to just BE HAPPY!
Thank you Carla-I’m sure a great many parents of graduating seniors share your rant, your pride and your happiness for a job well done.
What about you, Odd readers? Care to share your thoughts about children who have the nerve to take our hearts; leave home with them, all the while expecting us to applaud….just like we always have….?
Other post by Carla:
Cousin Carla Volunteers
14 thoughts on “My baby is graduating-Cousin Carla Rants”
What a beautifully written epiphany of the milestone of high school graduation. Your honesty is refreshing. I feel for you because it is hard, very hard to end this chapter and move onto the next. I struggle with the loss everyday. It sounds like you Carla have it covered very well. May God bless you and your daughter on this journey.
Carla, hang in there, there are two big bumps when she goes to college, then you gradually realize she is doing exactly what you’d hoped she would.
Ok, by you I mean me and by she I mean my son, but hopefully things will improve for you as they did for me. College orientation is rough…and move in to the dorms is a bear. I can tell you that I’m at the end of freshman year and alive!
PS…for move in, do yourself a favor – use those plastic storage tubs and bring a hand truck or cart.
Lovely, but don’t be mad at yourself for feeling what you are feeling. This is a bittersweet time for you….I know, I just sent my youngest off to college a year and a half ago myself. I still get sad sometimes, but then he comes home to visit and I get over it and see again how important it is that he is away from home, in college and growing into a man.
By the way, your mention of the “last home football game” sent me back and I felt the ping of pain of that night for me. It was tough after all those years of practice and games, activities that dictated our family schedule, for it all to come to a screeching halt. But you will take joy in her new success at school and new activities too. Most important, allow yourself tears and sorrow….you have to feel the pain to work through it.
OMG what a great post! We have an only child (daughter) and I basically had the same initial feelings toward mothering as you did. I wanted to always work full time, had no idea what I was getting myself into, and could take or leave kids. Long story short, my daughter is now in the home stretch of her college experience, preparing to graduate. That senior year of high school was tough! I, too, am not a cryer but found myself tearing up at every last game, last dance, last recital, college visits and graduation. To top it off, the week before she left for college, I spent a week in my bedroom in a deep depression crying daily, barely able to help her pack. That week was a killer. I couldn’t hide my sadness from her and felt horrible I couldn’t even pretend to happy for her. My mistake was I let myself become so wrapped up in her life- foregoing mine, leaving me with an empty hole so huge if was unbearable. I lost myself in her, I see that now. Fast forward 4 incredibly life changing years at Purdue, I see what a great experience this has been for the both of us. It has forced me to acknowledge myself and my own personal wants and needs. It has shown me that I can have a fulfilling life of my own, my happiness no longer dependant on my child’s happiness. Most importantly, these years have allowed me to let go, confidently knowing I’ve done a pretty good job raising an intelligent, mature, independent daughter with a kind heart and a zest for life. I survived and you will too! Quite honestly, I can’t see how any parent gets through this time without an ugly cry or two. All the best on this new journey you both are about to begin!
ps. I haven’t cried since the first day we dropped her off. 🙂
I just got home from a meeting where I thought I might just jump up on a table and start screaming, “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” and found all of your very kind and thoughtful comments. It is nice to see that all of you have lived through this and come out whole on the other side.
Our most important job as parents, and mothers specifically is to raise our children to go out into the world independently and succeed. So why do we feel so bad when they do just that?! I AM a crier, and continue to be, but tried to spare my kids the visual. I found that celebrating the victories and talking them thru their defeats worked for all of us. And in the end, you have an adult child who can now be your friend. It’s a beautiful thing.
Enjoy the senior year and continue on with college. This child that you raised will amaze you and make you smile all along the way. You’re not losing a child, you’re gaining a friend! 😉
I almost cried when I read Carla’s post. I have been thinking about how very grateful I am for having been able to spend time with my children as they went from baby to teenager to one soon turning 25!. I loved the baby years, cried at the lost hockey games and jumped for joy at the wins, cheered at the choir concerts, sat awe struck at the songs my son sang, watched the volleyball-basketball-badminton games sometimes even understanding the scoring, awe struck by a daughter loving chemistry/math,traveling to visit 14 colleges in 9 days. I miss those times and love who they are becoming!
Best of luck to you on the college visiting. It is a beautiful time between a mother and child. Blessings to you both.
Wow so many comments with so many wonderful mothers! I am tearing up knowing that I am not the only one that has had a diffficult time with seperation anxiety. We’re all different but we do share a similiar experience, letting go and moving on. TNX for sharing and thanks for Odd!
Well done Carla. It’s always tough to turn em loose!
What a great story! The talent must really run in the family! I love Carla’s honesty. We are a mother and of course we love our children dearly but there are times when we just tired and can’t devoted 100% and they way books and “happy” maganize told us we should. That’s life. All of us want the best for our children and want to capture everything unfortunately we just can’t do it all and it all went in a flash! Her story is a real as it can be and it happen to all of us. It’s a very beautiful story and how we cal all relate to it.
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