Senior year is almost over for my “practice kid.” My firstborn. The one who helped me figure out how to be a mom. As I wrap my head around the logistics of moving him into college across the country, there are so many things I want to do. So many things I want to say. So many things I want to share. And I’m running out of time.
Most importantly, I want to share how incredibly proud I am. We’ve worked together through the challenges of high school, the college acceptance letters, the college rejection letters, and found the perfect next step. It’s such an exciting time being on top of the “High School Food chain.” Yet as I battle nostalgia, I feel bittersweet wondering what the heck happened to the past few years.
In eighth grade, you spent a few months basking in the pride of being accepted to Loyola High School. One of those “elite Los Angeles” schools that is now in the news. You were not a legacy. We didn’t make a huge donation. You felt it was the perfect school for you and put in the hard work to get there. HSPT test prep, practice tests, letters of recommendation, you did it all. And I will never forget your face when you found out you were accepted.
Your hard work paid off.
Shortly after our whole family was shaken to the core with my cancer diagnosis. I’m so sorry. I wish I could have changed things. I wish I could have been there with you at freshman orientation. I wish I could have taken you for ice cream after your first day of high school. The heartbreak of seeing you scared, worried, fragile… yet pretending to be strong around me, was almost more than I could bear. And I know it was almost more than you could bear. Entering high school at your most fragile and vulnerable must have sucked for you. Yet you soldiered on. That’s what I admire the most about you. Your resilience in the face of adversity. You never give up, you just try harder.
Then the dreaded “junior year” hit. It was endless. Should you take the ACT or SAT? Test prep, practice tests, counselor appointments, sports, projects, essays, college visits, trying to “show rigor” for your college applications. All while trying to get your GPA high enough to actually have a shot at getting into the colleges you were applying to. Not to mention being a brand new driver, driving 40 miles roundtrip each day in bumper to bumper Los Angeles traffic. I tried to be supportive (I promise I really tried…even after the third fender bender) as you struggled with your new workload and expectations. Yet we made it through (barely!).
So here we are. The past four years I’ve watched you slowly grow out of your teenage awkwardness and evolve into a confident, funny, strong and kind man. We are racing through senior year. Prom is in the distance (you looked super handsome by the way). Graduation is approaching. And senioritis is in full effect.
A mother’s love is not easy to put into words. The moment I met you my heart filled with so much happiness it was almost painful. Now when I see your hairy face and broad shoulders, I appreciate how much you’ve grown, and appreciate what an incredible young man I’ve raised. Except you raised me as much as I raised you. You taught me unconditional love, patience (well I’m still working on that one), and sacrifice. Senior year is the time to celebrate, smile and be proud. Let’s enjoy every single second we have left together, and not sweat the small stuff. Now is the time to discover the world on your own. Travel whenever and wherever you can.
There will never be another time in your life when you’re so free from responsibilities. Spread your wings. Try new things. Have fun and enjoy your victory lap, bud. You earned it.
Am I going to miss you terribly when you leave for college? Of course I am. You are the son every mom dreams of. I guarantee I’ll do the ugly cry on more than one occasion in the next few months, causing you deep embarrassment. But know my tears are full of pride, memories, nostalgia, and excitement at what the future has in store for you.
I’m not sad. It’s the circle of life… this is supposed to happen. I’m proud of you. I’m humbled by your resilience. I’m looking forward to your future. And I know deep down that you’ve got this. The 18 years I thought I’d have parenting you, as a new naive mom, is just a myth. Parenting is a beautiful life-long journey. It never ends. It will just look different. I’ll always be your momma — my heart dangling outside of my body with your name on it.
I love you. The best is yet to come.
Your Biggest Fan,