As my son prepares to graduate today from his Elementary School, I find myself washed away in past memories like a piece of seaweed swept back into the ocean from the shore it once laid upon. The memories fill my being as if being submerged in the salt water of the great ocean. All of my senses suppressed, but that of touch, which brings me into the quiet of life and into this dream world of past memories. Flooding in one after another. Bringing him home from the hospital. Putting me back into that exact moment as we stepped out of the security of the warm building and nurses who had been guiding us. Feeling the sharpness of the freezing Colorado air. Being overcome with emotion as we struggled to get the car seat into the car... with the pressing issue of the frigid temperature touching our brand new son. Tears streaming down, "I can't do this." Talking about the car seat... but really about becoming a mom. Could I even do this?
Another memory sweeps in - the emotional day we dropped him off for his first day of Kindergarten. How proud and excited he was and how it felt like my child was being ripped from my arms. I wanted to keep him safe and innocent and not get a glimpse of how brutal our world truly could be.
Then, one after another, each and every birthday party he has had. Bringing a soft smile to my face recalling on his second birthday how he cried under the table while we all sang Happy Birthday to him.
Moving on to the sweet nights I would sing him a song before he went to bed... "You are my Sunshine" was the house favorite. I would lay down next to him and run the back of my fingers over his delicate cheeks. And every time, feel overwhelmed with love that I knew was what they meant by unconditional.
There are milestones like this as parents that slow down the day. The opportunity to invite you to look back.
And suddenly, I jolted out of those sweet memories of him into the reflection of myself as his mom. What kind of grade would I receive if I was in parenting school? The Optimist of me, wants to say A+ straight away. For he is an amazing human being. And you have done your best! But the Realist in me pops in to say, eh, maybe A+ the last few years, but remember your early years of being a mom? Probably more of a C-. Let's average you out at a solid B. And then the skeptic in me rolls in. D+. You aren't like the other moms who do everything for their kids. You take time for yourself and have traveled without him. You didn't want to play legos with him all the time. You had other people watch him while you partied on the weekends. You were too lax on dessert.
And this inner dialog makes me so curious and begin to write.
I realize how I want to talk about parenting. In a big way. I have never really been one of those over-the-top parents. And at this milestone, I now realize what guilt that has brought me in the background of my life. But the truth of the matter is - it's not for me. I could never be someone who stops living my life for someone else. Regardless if they are my own child or not. And that I know I love my child deeper than anything in this entire world, but I also love a lot of other things deeply as well. And that there is a way to be an A+ parent without sacrificing yourself. And it doesn't mean you love your child any less.
So today, above anything else, I am so eternally grateful for this amazing son who came into our arms 12+ years ago. At that time, we had no idea what we were doing. And the reality is, we still don't. But we love and support and show up in life the way that feels good for us. Not the way that society tells us we should. Time is fleeting and if you are living your life for someone else, soon you will look back and say, what happened? More than anything in the entire world - I want to look back and say, I was true to myself. And the magic is - you can be true to yourself and be an A+ parent as well.