Today marks the end of a 23-year-long era for us. In 1991 we sent our oldest son, Aaron, off to Kindergarten on his wobbly little legs to begin his educational studies. Today our youngest son, Adam, turned in his blood-sweat-tear-stained, 188-page thesis for his master’s degree in structural engineering. Though presented with the opportunity, Adam has decided not to pursue his doctorate but join his brother in the world of the gratefully, gainfully employed. With little fanfare, we end what seemed like an indomitable journey of our children’s education. Yeah, yeah, I know. No big deal. Every family comes to this day. However, I must give pause and recount.
The months of May and June always bring back fond memories for me of the end of the school year. The teachers are classroom fatigued and want it to end as much (and maybe more) than the kids. The warm weather serves as a charmer to taunt the children about all the fun they are missing outside. And then the day arrives…The Last Day of School. Backpacks are unloaded, papers gone through, and lunch boxes with grimy interiors are thrown out. And mothers take a deep breath and plunge into the summer months of looser schedules, trips to the beach and zoo, vacations, popsicles and ice-cream cones, and and before you know it…backpacks and school supplies show up again in the store aisles. And this occurs over and over and over again with no end in sight. But the end does come and Voila!, there stands before you a taller-than-you figure in cap and gown. Tears are shed and chests are pumped with pride and throats enlarged with lumps. Gulp…can it be? Is it really over?
Then come the college years. Rooms are empty and hollow. Hallways are quiet. The dinner table seems too big. The phone is always for you. (Back in the day before we all had cell phones.) The first time he comes home, he seems suddenly grown up and adult-like. The first summer he is home, you realize you can never go back to the way it was, but maybe this empty nest thing is not so bad. Four or five or six years seem to pass quickly (for you at least!) Another graduation dawns. The sands are shifting from the tides of change. You welcome them now. You know that your job is done but your title and status remain. You never stop being a mother.