The winds of change are blowing again. The Hellgate winds have been rocking my world this week as we sit browsing through high school curriculum books, navigating the many choices that await our oldest son as we prepare him for his first year at Hellgate High School.
It was nine fleeting years ago that I prepared myself for Riley to start kindergarten. What would his little sister do without him for half a day? How would I entertain her when her best friend was gone for the three hours a day? And would he be safe? Make friends? Be okay without mom?
The first day of school was difficult for me. I cried when I left him, as he stared at me looking like a deer in the headlights. He was incredibly shy at the time, and I had the resist the urge to run back into the classroom, scoop him into my arms, and return him to the safety of our den just a few blocks away.
But as all moms do, I let go and he flourished. I was torn. I wanted him to thrive, but I needed him to still need me. This has been my experience throughout each of my children's lives so far. The constant internal battle of loss and gain is always present. Losing the sweet faced kindergarten boy but gaining a creative, intelligent adolescent. The winds of change sometime blow gently on my back, and every once in a while emotionally throw me off balance. I have come to realize that these winds are what define parenthood.
When I was in eighth grade, school was called Junior High. Junior high went through freshman year, and then high school started in tenth grade. There was an annex that separated the junior high from the high school, so the transition didn't seem like much of a big deal. Elective classes were limited back then, and the focus was certainly not on selecting a four year track that would synchronize with my life path. I don't remember thinking much about college until I was a junior.
I can't help wondering whether we have moved to a climate of high pressure for our children. So many choices clearly overwhelmed me and my son this past week as we looked closely at predicting what he wanted to do with his future. At thirteen planning his life seems purely speculative. I know some students have a real clear view of what they dream of becoming, and some parents have a very narrow view of what they want their kids to become. We can only forecast our son's future by looking at his interests now, and what his goals might be as he approaches college.
The curriculum guide is filled with choices. Many courses contain prerequisites and have to be planned by looking at the four year track. If you don't get some courses in your freshman year, you may not have the opportunity to pursue that class. Some classes are only one semester, some are a full year. Riley and I had a few disagreements about an elective class he should take. I was trying to look at the broad picture of four years and what might be best for him. He was trying to look at new interests and hoping to be in class with some of his elementary school buddies. We were at odds, and I finally realized that he needed my support in letting him choose. I was faced with another act of letting go.
As my husband Mark and I sat through orientation at the high school last week, the gale force winds of change struck again. I realized that for the first time ever since my three children started school that they won't be together in their K-8 facility. I won't be just down the road. They will not ride the bus home together arriving, out of breath, from racing each other from the bus stop. I won't hear three siblings, loudly stumbling into the front door, either fighting or laughing, wondering what's for snack.
The winds of change are here to stay. I know that once next fall appears that four years will go as quickly as the storms that float across our valley, just as the last nine have. I am bracing myself for the emotional gale force winds, trying to welcome them as I continue clinging to the gentle, beautiful breeze in my memory. Three children that were once babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, now being transformed by the winds of change, and taking me on one wild ride!