I have two teenagers: a high school senior and a middle school eighth grader. This means both of my kids have major scholastic milestones celebrated in the same week in May, note to self. It was never my intention, but all the senior year things have taken over our lives and my memory space. Our household has been focused on those “lasts” of having a senior, from the final sports events to these concluding days of classes. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it’s very exciting to see our oldest reach this accomplishment. On the other hand, maybe he could commute to K-State? See what just happened there? It’s all about the senior. While trying to soak it all in and not waste a minute of having our son still under our roof, I completely forgot about eighth grade promotion.
My kids didn’t get too many blow-out birthday parties. Thankfully I parented through the younger years in a Pinterest-free world. We celebrated low-key and felt no guilt about it. When our son moved from middle school to high school, we took him out to lunch and bought him a phone. But high school graduation is more significant than eighth grade promotion. In the words of my senior, it’s the first major “you did this” academic achievement in what will ultimately be a long list. So I’ve spent considerable time pouring over party planning books and magazines and texting my throws-the-best-parties friend Angela with tablescape questions. I want to mark this day as important and I’m going to have the waffle/sundae bar to prove it!
Before our daughter was born, our son and I had four and a half years all to ourselves. He was the center of our world. I remember asking my friends who already had two kids exactly how they managed to fairly and equally raise more than one child because I didn’t see how this was going to work. Even in those final moments of labor I was convinced I had ruined his life. Then Isabelle was born and it all made sense. Because of course love doesn’t divide, it multiplies. So when our daughter walked into the kitchen recently and I was admiring how tall she had gotten and what a delightful young lady she was becoming, it hit me that eighth grade promotion was just THREE DAYS after graduation and I had completely dropped the ball! My old fear of loving one kid less was staring me in the face.
I decided to just dive right in and ask her if she felt slighted or overshadowed. Her answer was profound. It’s not just that my husband and I have a senior in the house, she does too. She said while she is excited to see her brother’s future accomplishments, she’s sad that they will take place away from her. We ALL have mixed emotions about this milestone. She assured me that lunch out after eighth grade promotion was just what she wanted as long as we continued our Girls Only traditions. Music to my ears! She in no way felt ignored or loved less, and asked to be involved in Isaac’s graduation celebrations.
I dropped Isabelle off at school later (that’s something I will be thrilled to leave in the rear view. Middle School Morning Drop-off Line, you are the worst!) and realized that we are doing alright. I didn’t forget about Isabelle, I haven’t missed anything yet. But I will, as these beautiful children of mine find their place in a larger world. I am going to cry about it. But it’s going to be okay because they told me so. I have spent the last 18 years building a lasting and important relationship with my kids. Now it’s time to celebrate!