Last summer, I watched my oldest child graduate and move out. Now, before I’ve even had time to catch my breath, I’m preparing to watch her brother follow in her footsteps, and it’s a lot harder than I expected it to be.
Sure, this one was my baby for ten years before their youngest brother was born. And he was my “difficult” child, the one who had me pulling out my hair and threatening to sell him on ebay by the time he was in second grade. We had a lot of rough years getting to this point, and it’s breaking my heart to realize that I have to let him go just as I’m finally starting to understand him.
But even more than that, there is the realization that I am also waving good-bye to all of the kids that are graduating with mine. I’ve watched some of them grow up from pre-school or even earlier; when so many of them tower over me or speak in deep baritones, it seems impossible that I once held them on my lap or dried their tears.
I wish I knew the right words to say, the right wisdom to impart to all of them. I wish I knew the secret of life so I could tell them all what to do to make everything turn out just right.
I guess what I’m really trying to say is . . . .
. . . sometimes it’s okay to ask for help.
. . . it’s all right if you hate Shakespeare.
. . . try a peanut-butter-and-dill-pickle sandwich at least once in your life.
. . . every once in a while, do something that scares the hell out of you. However —
. . . stop doing dangerous things that scare the hell out of your mother. Seriously, our hearts can’t take it.
. . . go ahead and cry.
. . . be nice to someone who doesn’t deserve it.
. . . forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it.
. . . eat dessert first once in a while.
. . . wait to say “I love you” but don’t wait too long.
. . . don’t mix peppermint Schnapps with pizza. Trust me on this one.
. . . give three sincere compliments every single day.
. . . let it go, whatever “it” is that’s hurting you.
. . . don’t be afraid to make the first move.
. . . understand that life is not going to turn out exactly the way you expect, and accept that it’s going to be amazing anyway.
. . . call your grandparents more often.
. . . read Slaughterhouse Five.
. . . don’t be afraid to say good-bye. Not everyone is meant to be in your life forever.
. . . find something beautiful about yourself every day.
. . . know that life is not a competition and you don’t always have to win.
. . . take the high road whenever possible.
. . . read a banned book at least once in your life.
. . . remember that there’s more to life than what you see on the internet.
And last, but definitely not least . . . .
. . .forgive yourself once in a while. You deserve it.