Why Does This Keep Happening? Another Kid Graduates High School

Somehow, I ended up with having another senior graduate from high school this year. For those of you keeping track at home, this is kid number three out of six for me.

No Usual Cues

Despite the weirdness of this last school year, it still happened. The usual ‘cues’ that the end was near weren’t there. There were no end of season banquets, last performances, or award ceremonies (well we had one on zoom). There was no last homecoming or a last prom. His time at school just kind of dwindled until… he didn’t have it anymore. I never took a last day of school photo for him because I am not even sure when it was. To call his senior year anticlimactic is an understatement.

I’m not necessarily writing about what he lost because of Covid because we all have stories of loss. Good or bad, this is part of his story, part of the fabric of our collective memory of living through a global pandemic. 

I always ask myself, “Is it enough?”

With each of my kids as they end their time at home, I always ask myself, “Is it enough?” Have I spent enough ‘quality time’ with my kid? Have I taught him right from wrong? Have I taught him the dangers of the internet and strangers and people who are just plain mean? Have I taught my kid to stand up for others? Did I teach him enough empathy and kindness?

With this kid, we had less opportunities for that. Less opportunities for him to be out in the world practicing becoming an adult while still under our roof. By spending the last year or so mostly at home, he learned different skills, ones that are also valuable but less familiar to me.

He has two older brothers that are doing well for themselves (by societal standards). The pressure to ‘succeed’ can be greater while comparing oneself to older siblings that had different supports, different experiences and more opportunities. They get lots of attention on their accomplishments and achievements. Being in the shadow of that can be a heavy weight on an eighteen year old’s shoulders. Meanwhile the comparisons (whether internal or external) can be immense. 

One mom can point out these unfair comparisons. One mom can tell her kid that she thinks he’s awesome and that he’s going to do amazing things that are perfect for him. But, the world will tell him differently with subtle differences in treatment towards him. With the questions that are asked of his older brothers and not him. With choices in careers, their future earning potential, their personalities and friends, it is easy to focus on what you are not instead of what you are.

Someone recently commented on how unique each of my children are and how that is a product of our parenting. I think they are partially right. It is easy to try to parent each kid the same, but if you pay attention, you quickly realize that won’t work. Believe me, we tried. I’m just grateful that we figured it out and got out of his way so that he could become the amazing human that he was meant to be. When this kid hit high school he had some similarities to the older brothers but he just didn’t fit in like they did. Only when he was encouraged to do his own thing, find his own path and just be himself did we see the confidence and the power of him standing in his own truth. 

Being a parent is a trip, y’all. I just love watching their lives unfold.

Julie is a mom of five boys and one girl. She is a runner, biker, yoga instructor and socializer. That about sums it up. Believe it or not, she really does enjoy the soccer, cross country, swim team, track, dance classes, basketball, and theater her kids are involved in as long as she has another mom (or dad) to talk to during these events. Julie is starting a new adventure going back to school to get her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy at Edgewood College.

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