I guess I could already see it coming after all, even though I tried so hard not to look. Back in October, along that beautiful autumn wall, the future was already moving towards us. And Jonas was already stepping forward to meet it.
I thought I had signed up for an 18-year first tour of duty (2017), but as it turns out we’re winding up early, in 2015.
[**Let’s be clear, the motherhood tour will never end until I die, of course, and probably not even then.**]
The week before winter break, in December, he decided he wanted to check out boarding schools for next year. “SURE!” I said with enthusiasm (hiding shock), “Um, when’s the deadline…?” It didn’t come out of the blue. It’s something we put forth as an option in the spring of 8th and spring of 9th grades, and both times the offer was barely across my lips before there was a definitive and very swift “NO.” The truth is, his high school experience has been good and he’s been happy; the school has been supportive and open to the ways in which he has already customized his learning experience (skipping into Honors Junior English, an independent study on Forms of Government and Social Structure, and an online AP US Government class this spring). So he entered into the application process knowing that he would be fine staying where he is.
Our month of January included 3 school visits. The closest was 3 hours away. All three interviews coincided with two prolonged nasty cold/flu illnesses for Jonas; he was in equal states of not-quite-100%-healthy for each one, but well enough to go. I sat in admissions offices with families from Florida, New Jersey, California, and one from Beijing. I saw the country’s largest high school library. We drooled over history elective courses that sound like college courses, each description like a special chocolate to savor. We worked through possible interview questions, questions for the interviewer, and special things to “work in” if possible. We had our pump-ourselves-up playlists for the car rides, snacks, toothbrush, water, cold medicine, tissues, thermos of tea, etc.
And at almost the 11th hour, coinciding with school vacation week, the discovery of a missing recommendation that we thought had already been submitted. And by some sort of grace, that teacher was reading his school email at 11:30 at night, on his vacation, and found it in his heart to write and submit (again?!) a digital copy the next morning. ON HIS VACATION. I was mortified to make this request. (Did I sleep that night? Nope.) And P.S. that dear teacher is a colleague that I see every day at school. And he even still talks to me at lunch.
Hanging over it all was the sense of not getting too excited or attached to any outcome. Being cool, OK with whatever happens. Whatevs.
But I’ll admit that many times I had to take myself to task and remind myself that whatever was going on was decidedly NOT ABOUT ME and all about Jonas, on his own trajectory. Not my circus, not my monkeys. If I’m honest, it felt like I was offering up one of my masterpieces, someone amazing, one of the best humans I know (if I might say so), and what on earth would it mean if that wasn’t good enough and they didn’t accept him? How could they not?
So, flash forward to this week.
He got into his top choice and will be going away this fall. When he got the email, because that’s what they send out first, it came in a day early. A surprise! And he had to send it to me to be sure, because somehow the words “We are delighted to offer you admission…” were overshadowed by a photo of a bunch of celebratory teens in school colors, and he thought it might have been some sort of spam. “HELL TO THE YES #momscrying” was my reply. I knew that either way, it would be devastating; heart is both bursting with pride and excitement for all these doors wide open, and breaking into little bits and pieces as I start to imagine the space he will leave behind.
I have to fast-track the rest of my Mom Curriculum and the clock is ticking. It’s pretty minimal, just some polishing, really. Self-care skills will be high on my list. And I need to ponder what to put on his Mom’s Recommended Reading List for summer reading. Mr. Crafty is taking over the Movie/Film List. These four most important phrases, from my favorite author Louise Penny, are going to figure into the curriculum somehow:
- I was wrong.
- I’m sorry.
- I don’t know.
- I need help.
From your first breath,
your eyes were peeled,
by the amount of eyeball exposed,
you could consume more
of the world,
You never snuggled in my neck,
sucked your thumb,
or needed a break.
When you were awake,
the moment your eyes were open
your mind was alive, active, curious.
You had ideas, demands, plans,
articulating your visions immediately,
while I was still trying to pull myself out of sleep.
In those early years,
you came home from school exhausted every day:
your brain never stopped,
you never let your attention wander,
never missed any social exchange.
You remembered everything
and you made up even more
so you would retell stories you’d heard
with more details than the original text.
You were always eager to do the next thing,
unconcerned with perfection,
but enticed by the exploration of something new.
Curious, open, willing.