Graduation brings floods of emotions for parents

When my son was born, everyone told me to enjoy his childhood because it would pass too quickly.

I’ll admit that I’ve thought about him growing up, but I didn’t really consider how I would feel about that until I watched him graduate from Pre-K last Friday. When I saw him in his little blue cap and gown, it really hit me; he’s growing up, and in less than 15 years, he’ll be graduating from high school.

As I watched him sing songs about manners, acceptance and his five senses, I instantly wanted to reach out and cuddle him like I did when he was a newborn. He often asks me to pick him up and rock him, and when the ceremony was over, I decided to wrap my arms around him and hold him for a minute.

However, I couldn’t catch him. He was running chasing his friends and didn’t seem to notice me at all. I was so proud of him, but I found myself feeling more than a little sad. I know it is natural to be apprehensive about your child growing up, but I began to wonder if I weren’t being a little selfish. Did I want him to stay a baby just so he would never leave me?

I tried to get my son’s attention by calling him by his nickname, only to have him turn and run the other way. When I called out to him again, he held up his little hand and said, “Not now, Ma.”

Ma. That crushed me. I had always been “mommy” up until now. Now, I was “Ma.”

I stood there and watched him play until it was our turn to take pictures in front of the graduation sign. When I attempted to pose him, I realized that I was no longer calling the shots. I tried to tell him how to stand, and he corrected me and said, “No, I don’t like that. I’m gonna do this.”

He crossed his little arms in his tough-guy stance and smiled a big, cheesy smile.

It was sad to see him being so independent, but I have to admit that his pictures were cute.

I thought about how many Brunswick County parents would share my sentiments during the next few weeks. As the local schools and high schools have promotion and graduation ceremonies, many parents will be faced with the reality that their children are growing up.

Since I have been a parent for a little more than five years, I can’t offer the parents any advice on how to deal with these feelings. In fact, if anyone has any advice for me, please let me know.

However, because I have been a daughter for more than 30 years, I can offer this piece of advice to kids who feel smothered by their parents: Enjoy it, and cut your parents some slack. They’re dealing with this the best they know how.

As for me, I soon realized I have a few more years before I need to worry about my son no longer needing me. When I got home from work Friday afternoon, he ran up to me and wrapped his arms me and said, “I’m so glad you’re home, Mommy.”

And just like that, I was mommy again.