Don’t Do the Math

counting on fingersGraduation is an interesting milestone. While I sat in the bleachers, so many memories returned to me like old flashcards. (Remember flashcards?)

I remember the early days when I had to get both kids and myself out of the house for school and work. Like a complicated math problem, there was never a good solution. And since I’m terrible at math, it was always a stressful situation. I did my homework the night before by making lunches, laying out clothes, and checking school schedules for whatever letter day it was so I could put gym clothes (or whatever else they needed) in their backpacks. But no matter how hard I tried, there was always something to throw me off, like a PTO check I didn’t write or a permission slip I forgot to sign. When we left the house, I felt frazzled and exhausted, and I’d often ask myself this question.

“How long until they graduate high school, and how old will I be when they do?

And then, I’d do the math and realize how brief this time with my kids is in the grand scheme of things. It’s a blip. A fraction of our lives. A moment in time. And as Ferris Bueller so brilliantly said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” This statement is so true when it comes to raising kids.

Before I knew it, I stopped driving the kids to school and let them ride their bikes instead. Soon enough, Jenna graduated from elementary school, and we sat dumbfounded at middle school orientation, learning a new concept – block scheduling. Andrew followed in her footsteps soon enough. I was disappointed when I discovered sixth grade was the last year for parent/teacher conferences. Maybe the kids outgrew them, but I never did. And not to go off on a tangent, but why can’t they continue into their teenage years when we all need parental validation?

High school moved even faster. It is hard to comprehend that one minute, I’m the 4th-grade room mom organizing the class Halloween party, and the next, I’m shopping for prom gowns. Grades and extracurriculars amounted to more than a busy family calendar. SAT tutoring (even more math!) and driving lessons became our new reality. We were preparing them for their future away from home – away from us.

I can crunch the numbers in various ways, but they will never add up right in my mind. I always subtract the fights over homework, teenage angst, and messy bedrooms and multiply in all of the special moments. And then, I divide it by two. I can’t help but factor in the times I doubted myself as a mother and could easily plot them out on a line graph. If I were a better math student, I’d attempt to figure out the algorithm that aligned everything perfectly, bringing me to this conclusion: don’t do the math. Enjoy those qualitative moments before class is dismissed.

Happy graduation to the Class of 2022, and congratulations to the parents and loved ones who made sure the Chrome books were returned in one piece, all of the late fees were paid, and the caps and gowns and yearbooks were ordered. We did it!

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