Jess In Real Life

 June 12, 2008
Posted by Kitzie Stern

Last night my youngest son graduated from high school. It was a surreal experience. The hall was filled with parents I recognized dating back to grade school. At soccer games and football games we stood together, huddled under umbrellas. We suffered through grade school band concerts together. We’ve talked to each other on the phone, checking that parents will be home for the sleepover. We, of course, don’t look any older. Not so our children. Look, there’s the child who came to grade school birthday parties and sleepovers, all grown up! And my son’s first girlfriend is a valedictorian. She’s grown into a lovely girl, and is going to be a dancer. And my son’s best buddies, walking together and looking so tall and . . . oh my goodness . . . adult. On and on it went.

I’m finding these ceremonies mean more to me as I get older. They celebrate a moment in time, and as I age I realize time moves fast. Marking the moment takes on more importance, and this was a big one for me. No more driving children to school, no more lunch money to give. No more middle school soccer or high school football. No more birthday parties at Papa’s Pizza. It feels sad and exhilarating at the same time.

I imagine over the next several months my emotions will swing between joy and sadness. My son is going through the same thing. He is saying goodbye to his childhood this summer, and so am I. Jess says his real life is finally beginning. A new phase of my life it beginning too, my life after children. We’re both alternately sad and joyful, but open to possibility.