Turn In The Road

May 24, 2013

Today I packed the last school lunch of my parenting career. I thoughtfully made her sandwich, tucked it into Tupperware, added some snacks, and wrote a love note for good measure wishing her a wonderful last day of high school. The tears burned in the back of my eyes and did not fall. Then we drove to school together for the last time.

The funny thing is packing lunches is one of the tasks of motherhood that I detested the most through the years. As a result, I taught my girls to pack their own lunches early in their school careers. I started training them in first grade and by second grade they were completing this job unsupervised. Protein, fruit, and vegetable, I would hear them double checking just as I had taught them.

This year, knowing it was my last, I heartfully packed her lunch every day. Each day was an opportunity to fill her lunch sack with my love and caring as I sent her out into the world. It is interesting to me how our perspective can shift over time. This was no longer a chore I dreaded; it was a task I cherished. And now it is complete.

They told me the years would roll by faster than I could imagine and I believed them. “Them” being my mother, grandmother, and every other person from an older generation who had raised children. Still, I could not fully understand this until now. Treasuring each moment of every morning this week, knowing a chapter in my life was coming to a close. There are no words to describe the fullness in my chest and the mixture of emotions running through me.

There will be more special moments, chapters closing and opening, and more days of celebration in the years ahead. And I know that when she accepts that diploma on Saturday, whether inside or outside, I will cry.

My tears are filled with wonderful memories of all the days we drove to school and back. Days where the drive was silent and others filled with arguments so loud I chose to pull over and get out of the car until things simmered down. (One of the times I pulled to the side of the road, a highway patrol officer pulled over to make sure we were okay. Needless to say, that kept them well behaved in the car for weeks!) There were days prepping for vocabulary tests forgotten till the moment we walked out the door and others where the sanctuary of my Volvo wagon provided a place to discuss the secrets of their hearts.

I am grateful for all those days now and even more grateful for the opportunity to share in Kate’s last day of high school. Her sister was driving herself on her last day, so this was not an experience I had with her.Today, Kate was driving me and yet we were together.

I know this is merely a turn in the road for us and there are many more memories to be made ahead. And this knowing does not prevent the tears from welling up. The pain in my chest is a welcome reminder of the love we share and the privilege it is to be a mother and share in their lives so intimately.

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