I'm grieving, and I'm not sure why. Or: My son is graduating soon.

My oldest son is graduating from high school in May. I never expected this to hit me this hard, but it is. (I should’ve been suspicious when I cried about his turning 18, I guess.)
I thought it was because he isn’t going into music, and maybe that’s still part of it. He’s a brilliant tuba player and a damn good jazz trombonist. Now, I am quite aware that as his mother, I might be biased. However, I don’t know enough about jazz to call anyone “brilliant” at it, so I base my conclusion on the fact that several professionals, from his extremely-respected jazz teacher to college-level jazz musicians and professors, describe him that way. He just came back from the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Idaho, where he won the Outstanding Tuba Solo award, which is pretty cool.
At any rate. He isn’t going into music, after taking every music class he could and spending countless hours practicing and performing. He wants to go into law enforcement, which is a fine and honorable choice, imo.
Truthfully, I’ve gone over and over this in my head. My head says: Law enforcement is a noble and honest and decent career, and my goal for him is to be healthy and happy, and this is what he wants to do. Just because he doesn’t go into music doesn’t mean he won’t play, for heaven’s sake. And besides, I’m a good poet, but I wouldn’t want to STUDY poetry on a college level, even if I were able to get a full scholarship to some prestigious program. And besides THAT, he can always go into music later if he wants to.
That’s what my head says. My heart hears him play three notes and says: Waaaaaaaah. :frowning:

But I don’t even think that’s it, really. I’m beginning to think that this is really about watching this period of his life come to a close. I think it’s about the fact that I can’t go back to fix all the things I screwed up, because it’s too late. I spent ten years with an abusive s.o.b. who treated all of us like dirt and I can’t forgive myself for exposing my kids to that. I was an absolutely horrible housekeeper, and my son had to live that way too. We were broke all the time, and I have been horrible at keeping track of things, and I didn’t attend nearly enough events at his school. (I made the concerts, but missed most of the other stuff.)

Do other parents feel this way? I don’t think my mom and dad ever felt guilty for the things they did, and frankly, they were a lot worse than me. At least I’m NOW, finally, getting things together–our home is clean (well, fairly) and peaceful and the abusive SO is long gone, and I spend more time with the kids, etc. And I talk to them, and to my oldest especially, about this stuff, in hopes that he’ll understand that I don’t disapprove of him–that I’m just regretful for not being the Perfect Mom all those years.

Actually, we talked about it tonight. He suggested that, if I wanted to make it all up to him, I could buy him a fast, red car with a stick shift. So I guess he’s okay, or at least he has a good sense of humor about it all. He’s a great kid, and I have to remind myself that if I were as terrible as I sometimes feel, he wouldn’t be a good kid at all. That should be some comfort to me, right?

I don’t even know what else to say. I just get overwhelmed with sadness when I think about all of this. And I CAN’T be this way, because I’m his mother and my JOB is to be supportive and guiding and strong. It’s just really tough right now.

Tonight, after dealing with perhaps the toughest night I can remember, all I can say is be happy he is still with you. There are atleast a thousand people who wish they could say the same, probably a thousand more. I realize it is trivial, but just be glad that he has made it this far, and probably has a lot farther to go.

Oh, I am happy he’s with me. He’s healthy, he’s reasonably happy, he’s a good worker, and he hasn’t been in any trouble other than the occasional late-night-out sort. I’m certainly not complaining about him or about the choices he’s making.

He’s a good kid, and I’m lucky to have him. And I think sometimes I don’t deserve him, which is probably a large part of the guilt and sorrow I feel. That, and of course, I’m not ready to let him go.

I’m not ready for my 6.9 year old son to be through with his trains. Or his size 4 undies (They are sooooo cute!), but it happens.

This just means you get to spoil the rest of them rotten to spite the eldest audacity for growing up before you were ready to deal with it.

bodypoet , I know what you mean. My oldest son will graduate next year and I can barely keep from crying every time I think about it.

I think part of it is regrets about all the mistakes I’ve made but a lot of it is just sadness for the time that’s gone. Being a parent has been such a main focus of my life… then in such a short amount of time it’s over. Having adult children says so much about ME and what part of my life I’ll be in.

I can’t wait to not have to do stuff for kids all the time, to be able to go on trips without them, have whole days just for myself, but I know I’ll miss having them around. Graduation is just such a huge reminder of the passage of time.

I hear you, **Bodypoet ** and SP2263. My son (our oldest) will graduate next year. We’re looking at colleges now, so we’re all thinking ahead to the time when he won’t be under our roof.

And, strangely enough, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve very curious to see how our relationship with our youngest will change - she’ll be a freshman in High School, and an “only child” for the first time. I’m excited to see what changes occur in our son; and I have fantasies of receiving long e-mails from him telling us about all the things he’s learning, how his horizons are expanding, etc. etc.

Yeah, I know - they’re just fantasies. We won’t hear from him unless he needs something. And I shouldn’t try to live vicariously through him. But the thing is, he’s gone through such changes in High School, becoming such an interesting person, that I can’t wait to see what happens next!

The passage of time doesn’t bother me much; every year seems to be more interesting than the one preceeding, so I’m cautiously optimistic about the future in general. It’s just fascinating to watch our kids becoming the people they will be, right before our eyes.

Of course, that’s not saying I’ll be surprised to find myself tearing up at some time in the future. . .

Notice that you really want him to do one thing which makes great use of his talents, but automatically accept his alternative choice and support him… that makes you a great parent.

Ha. I can still recall in great detail the day I came home from work, and HallGirl 1 says, “Mom, why didn’t you come to my school for the parent’s lunch?” I STILL feel guilty for missing that (it completely slipped my mind), and this happened when she was in preschool.

She’s almost ready to graduate from college now…

I had a very, very tough time when HallGirl 1 moved into her own apartment last year. It didn’t bother me when she left for college, or when HallGirl 2 left for college the following year. It didn’t even bother me when HallGirl 1 bought furniture for her new apartment and it was stacked in my diningroom all summer until she was ready to move into her own apartment. Nor did it bother me when I helped her load all the stuff into the van and trek it across the state. It did kill me though when I got home and realized that she was now actually living in her own apartment. I felt like a part of my body was missing, completely gone.

I drug around like this for about three weeks or so, until I talked to a friend of mine, who had gone through something like this when her daughter moved out. She had felt exactly the same way.

HallGirl 1 still comes home every month or two, and we talk frequently (sometimes daily) on the phone, and it does get better. I also had a list of things I wanted to do when the HallGirls moved out, and I’ve begun doing that list of things. That helps too.

Sitting at home, crying, does not help. Trust me on that one.

Funny story for ya bodypoet from “the other side.”

When I was but a wee horse-crazy lass growing up horse-free in New York City I had a shelf full of model horses. Some were Breyers, which are plastic but have fancy paint jobs. Some were metal, clay or wood. A few were those tiny china figurines you see in gift shops. Pretty, and very fragile.

I had stern instructions to my mother not to ever dust the shelf, nor let the cleaning lady do it, as a)I didn’t want them to get damaged and b)I had them arranged just so.

Nevertheless, my mom would tell the cleaning lady to dust it periodically maybe once or twice a year (it did get really dusty, cause, let’s face it, I didn’t dust it). Thing is, a figurine invariably got damaged, AND I immediately noticed that they weren’t where I left them so poor mom was found out every time.

Fast-forward 10 or so years. I had graduated college and am living in my own apartment. A small package arrives from my mother. I open it only to find several small china horse figurines similar to those damaged by Cleaning Ladies of Days Gone By (ironically, one has broken in transit). I am completely befuddled. I call my mom, and she tearfully apologizes for not “respecting my space” wrt the horse shelf, and hopes that someday, I shall forgive her.

Now I am trying really hard not to laugh, because I have not even considered my horse figs in about 5 years, in fact I had sold some of them recently at a yard sale. It takes some persuading, but eventually I convince her that I am not harboring a decade-long grudge against her for Crimes Against the Horse Shelf.

So, yeah. I think maybe, somewhere, there’s a mom that has felt just like you do. :slight_smile:

I think my mother still feels a bit of illogical guilt that she was not present the day my then 14 year old brother broke his leg skiing. Plan A had been that Mom, brother, brother’s friend and I would go skiing together. Mom woke up not feeling very well and so she opted to drop the two boys off at the ski slope. She and I then went out to lunch. When we got home, Dad’s station wagon was in the garage- with my brother stretched out flat in the back. Had Mom and I gone skiing, brother still would have broken the leg, Mom would not have gone down that hill, ski patrol would still have rescued brother and splinted his leg, he still would have had to be taken to the hospital and ended up with a rod in his leg, etc. But my mother still feels slightly guilty that she was not there when her baby broke his leg.