June for working parents. Need I say more? It’s laughable what we’re trying to pull off. White-boarding and logistics planning can make you feel prepared for that one moment, until the next picnic or recital is announced for…tomorrow.
This year, I’ve been swept up in the swirl of end of year busyness as I always am, and yet this time, there’s a dull ache just beneath the surface. While my go-to approach is to stuff it down further with more details to wrangle, it body checks me. Leaves me raw.
I become "that parent" sobbing during the class slide show, hanging on every handwritten note in the yearbook and searing the image of my two daughters walking to school together holding hands in my mind as if it’s already gone. Because it nearly is gone.
This week, my daughter’s six-year journey from Kindergarten to 5th grade comes to a close and while I want to shove it into that category of, "I’m not that special. Millions of parents have gone through this milestone before us." With respect and compassion, I also acknowledge that while I may not be special or unique on this front, I am human. And for humans, a change and a passage of time of this magnitude hurts. A lot.
All at once, there’s gratitude for teachers who guided and inspired, appreciation for a community of parents that I didn’t always know well, but made my mornings and field trips even more fun and interesting—and at the heart of it—there’s my kid who went from a curious, all-in little one to a still curious, capable person. Her growth has been dramatic and yet the qualities that we celebrated in her the first day she entered that school are alive and well.
Parenting—and childhood—for that matter is messy. Success only comes when we choose to honor our wins and acknowledge the gravity of goodbye. To do this I know I must:
Hang up my whiteboard marker.
Be there, be present for my daughter each time she asks, even if it’s to look at her final math project, one last time.
Look right at her, smiling and ugly crying during graduation even if it embarrasses the shit out of her.
A proper goodbye for me in this moment is a contract that says, this time and who you’ve become is the most important thing to me right now. It says that every exciting change has a loss attached to it—and feeling the grief right now is the only bridge to get to the other side.