Maybe it was because I was highly under caffeinated. Maybe it was because this morning I was out and about far earlier than I have been in months. Maybe it was because three years ago at this time I was focused on getting a freshman to his orientation, our senior exchange student settled in and I wasn’t focused on the enormity of the day. Or maybe it’s because now I know.
This morning hit me far harder than I ever anticipated.
At 7:45 I woke Lucas up so I could take him to his freshman orientation. As we drove to school, we talked about orientation and the upcoming school year. Lucas was not his usual bubbly, goofy self. He was withdrawn and very quiet. I asked if he was nervous. He said, “No, not really.” The mom in me sensed something different than what his answer told me. I didn’t push or pry. But my heart cracked a little for my blond boy who is now going to a different high school than half of his friends. His big brother is at a different high school as well. I know that going into high school without an established group of good friends (or a big brother to look out for you) can be beyond daunting and my heart hurt knowing Lucas was starting a new year at a new school with only half of his group of friends. What he said to me as we got closer gave me further insight. “I don’t think I’m going to see anyone I know today.” That sealed it. I knew his nerves were jangling and I didn’t know how I was going to be able to pull up to the curb and let him just walk inside to his orientation, alone.
Thankful is what I felt as we pulled up to school. My sigh of relief must have been audible to half of Richmond when I saw other parents parking their cars and walking their new freshman into school. Lucas didn’t resist as I turned my car into the parking lot, found a spot and put the car in park. Lucas gave me no push back as we walked into school side-by-side. I think he wanted me there. And walking him into orientation was where I wanted, and needed, to be.
I decided I needed a little something to document Lucas’ first day at his new high school so I whipped out my phone and snapped a quick picture of him as he signed in to his homeroom. He either didn’t see or didn’t notice, but got no resistance from him about the phone and the picture. Or maybe it was because he was a bit more nervous than even I imagined. I have to tell you, I think I gave my hugest sigh of relief yet when Lucas’ gave the kid in front of his a quick, friendly smack on the shoulder and they greeted each other with smiles and handshakes. I knew he would be OK. His friends would start appearing and Lucas, well, he’ll make new friends fast. As I began to pull back a little, I overheard the volunteer tell Lucas that he and his friend were in the same homeroom. This mama was breathing easier for her sweet, blond boy who was ready to head off to his new homeroom.
Lucas and said a quick, “Bye, Mom.” With the map of the school in his hand, he turned and began to walk further into his new school. I snapped another quick picture of him walking away and it was then that it really and truly hit me. Lucas is in high school. A teacher saw me snap my picture and we talked for a few minutes about needing to document these times, even and the expense of possibly embarrassing our children. I could only talk for a few minutes until the enormity of this school year smacked me up side the head.
As I walked out to my car, tears spilled onto my cheeks. And as I took out my phone to look at the pictures I took I realized why today was so much harder than it was when I walked Zach into high school for his freshman orientation, or even paying his fees for his senior year. It’s because now I know. These years race by and are just a blur…
Oh, for the love of my children…