First Day Of School

Today my kiddos went back to school. My son is in his Junior year (gasp!) and my daughter and her classmates are ruling the school as mighty 8th graders.


My own Junior year doesn’t exactly feel like yesterday, but it sure as hell doesn’t feel like I am old enough to be the mother of an 11th grader. Then again, 1990 feels like it was 10 (maybe 15) years ago. My brain simply cannot wrap around the fact that I graduated high school 22 years ago!

This was me in 8th grade.

My son’s Junior year brings up a whole slew of new stresses and worries for me. Driver’s license, SATs, college applications, a car, moving out…ugh I can’t even. I will have to make myself a list and take one thing at a time.

Neither my husband nor I were given the option to go away to college. For my parents, “going away” meant driving on the interstate for 12 miles each day to the University of South Florida – and I wasn’t allowed to do that either. It was understood that I would go to the community college a whole 2.5 miles away from my parents’ house. Then (and only then), when I was at least 20 years old, would I have “permission” to drive on the freeway to USF. My husband’s parents weren’t as strict, but his horrific grades and extreme lack of motivation meant he’d, too, go on to 13th grade, our affectionate term for the local community college.

Here we are. I was a high school Junior and my husband was a Senior. Do we look like our kids?

(Side note: we both eventually graduated from the University of South Florida {GO BULLS!} with excellent grades, highly regarded by our professors, and with a fair amount of student loan debt, but I digress…)

We don’t want the same fate for our kids. They’ve always known that if they want to go away to school, and their grades and behavior are on track, we will do everything in our power to get them there. It’s just that up until recently, all of that seemed like it would happen in the far, far away distant future, not like in two short years.

UGH. I’m giving myself a stomach ache.

20 years ago, when my husband’s cousin (who is our age, and also wasn’t allowed to go away to college) got married at the tender age of 21, her mom became extremely ill on the day she left for her honeymoon. It was as though after 21 years of keeping her daughter neatly tucked under her wing, some boy came around and ripped her right out of her mother’s protective embrace. Tía was stoic throughout the wedding, forbidding herself to cry, but the moment her daughter drove off with her new spouse, she broke down. I remember thinking how ridiculous it was for her to get so upset. Her daughter and new son-in-law would be back in 5 days, and was moving less than 10 minutes away.

It took me 20 years, and two children of my own to understand.

It’s going to take a crap load of breathing exercises and some strong prescription medication to get me through the day my first child goes away to college. Just the idea of it makes me nauseated.

Two years. Two. Short. Years.


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