Last night I went to our local high school's commencement. My son and daughter were both playing in the band and I went mainly because I didn't have enough gas to make the trip home and back but partly because I love hearing the band. And this is likely the last time I'll hear either one of them in the band because neither one of them will be in it next year.
As I leaned against the fence listening to the English teacher announcing the names of the graduates, listening to the applause from the moms and dads and aunts and uncles and grandparents as the class of 2013 was officially graduated, my heart started to break a little bit.
I've always scorned those women who defined themselves by their children. But that was way back when I was juggling the responsibilities of a teenage daughter, a tween son, toddler twins and an infant son and I felt like I would never find me again. I'll admit it freely, my life now revolves around my kids. I don't like it when I don't hear from my oldest daughter EVERY day at least once, I don't like it that my oldest son doesn't text me every day and when I ask him what he's been up to, he just says 'stuff'. I don't like it when my three younger kids aren't home.
My kids' graduations are not a joyous occasion for me. When my oldest graduated, I thought I was dealing with postpartum depression from the birth of my youngest but when my next oldest graduated and I was in mourning for a week.......I realized that it was graduation and the marking of the end of their childhood, the end of our family as a 'team', that from then on, they could choose - or not- to include me in their day-to-day activities.
So I started riding horses - lessons that I can't afford but I know that two years from now, when it is two of kids walking across the stage to receive their diplomas and enter the adult world, I had better have some kind of diversion. Something new and exciting to occupy my time. Because it is true - you need to rock your babies 'cause babies don't keep. They really don't. And neither do tweens or teenagers.