In a few days, my son will graduate high school. We say, “Oh my, where did the time go?”
But I know exactly where it went:
It went to 2 a.m. feedings and all-night sicknesses. Cuddles and endless grilled cheese. “I love you”s and “You’re so mean”s. It went to school events, parent-teacher conferences, and relearning how to do things, like solve a quadratic equation.
It went to pumpkin guts fights and water fights. Coloring Easter eggs and Christmas mornings. Sliding down a slip and slide until the ground was muddy. It went to the endless piles of laundry and dirty dishes in the sink. The rapid-fire “Mom”s and the grating squeak of a saxophone. It went to groundings and praises. Ballfields and hours of running play lines.
And then… it went to doctors. MRIs and CT scans. IEPs and 504 plans. Specialists and clinical trials. This medicine and that medicine. Side effects, like short-term memory loss. It went to learning about Tourette’s for the first time. The real Tourette’s, not what is depicted in movies for comedic value.
It went to firsts again. First time in public with tics. First time on in-home instruction. First time back to school. It went to pushing too hard, then not hard enough. It went to tears in the shower, when no one could see.
It went to teaching ourselves and others to ignore the noises and movements parents are hardwired to stop. Learning what being an advocate meant. Learning when to be a shield and when to be a backstop. It went to unexpected calls from school and unplanned absences. Waking up every day, hoping the dead look was gone from his eyes, the pain would go away and his head would no longer hang in public. It went to checking a closed door with a soul-wrenching fear when things got too quiet.
It went to lost friends and new ones. People who understood and overlooked and those who didn’t. It went to learning to accept help. It went to teachers and administrators, who listened and had his back. Who guided us through it all. It went to adjusting to a new normal.
And then it went to band concerts and competitions. Running play lines and Comic Con. It went to the first time to the movies and first time behind a wheel. It went to setbacks and new tics met with a shrug. It went to handling his own meetings. It went to him telling me to stop watching, stop asking if he’s okay. It went to jokes again and laughs. Seeing the twinkle return in his eyes. It went to watching him walk through Walmart with his vocal tic, not giving a damn.
So, in the end, I know exactly where the last 18 years went. It went to getting him exactly where he is right now, ready to walk across the stage and get his diploma. Ready to head off to college, a confident young man.
I still remember his first day of kindergarten, dressed in his little shorts and sporting his first backpack. I stepped out to walk him in and he stopped, turned around, held up his little hand and said, “Mom, I got this.”
And while the words aren’t the same, the actions are. He’s got this. And we couldn’t be prouder of the young man he’s become. Now it’s his story to tell.
It was all possible because of the love and support of so many. Thank you isn’t enough.