Yesterday, I wrote three new things on my calendar. The first was fairly harmless: “1st day of school!!!”, which by the way, is September 8th, thanks to the newish law in Michigan that says what we mothers have been saying for years and years: that it’s ridiculous to send our kids to school for three half days of doing absolutely nothing and then have them home for a four day weekend over Labor Day before starting to school “for real”.
But anyway, I digress. The second, also fairly simple: “Register Spike 12-2”. Fine. Whatever.
It was the next one–Freshman Orientation 10-2–that finally made it sink in that my son, my baby boy, is starting high school this year. High school! When did this happen? I’m only barely out of high school myself! Well, okay, technically it’s been almost twenty years over eighteen years at least fifteen years a few years. But still, I don’t feel old!
I remember the first time that I actually realized that I could no longer be classified as “young”. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I get it that “young is a state of mind” and that, at 35, I’m not exactly “over the hill”. I’m (hopefully) not even middle-aged yet! But really, I remember the first time that I stopped and thought, “Oooooh! Wait! I think I’m old-ish!”
I was, interestingly enough, in London. I had just finished a whole week without my children, touring Europe with my big sister G, and was in London all by myself for one glorious day before I hopped on a flight that would take me back home to “reality”… in the form of my three children and a husband that was in Iraq for over a year.
I was wandering through Covent Garden, which, if you’re at all familiar with London you realize is a trendy little area with hip little shops and happening pubs and a very, well, European feel. I was on my way back to the Tube station to go to the National Gallery when I spotted the Swatch store. I had recently lost or broken my watch (I can’t remember which) and thought: Hey! what a fun little souvenir to take home with me! I could wear the watch every day and think, “I got this watch in London!” Plus, I had four or five Swatches back in the 80’s (which I wore all at the same time, of course, as everyone did in the 80’s) and I was way cool then, so how could I lose?
As I headed toward the store, I passed a small group of college-aged girls who were sort of standing around looking cute, as only college-aged girls really can. They had fashionable little jackets on and the latest bags slung over their shoulders, and they were talking and laughing amongst themselves. As I walked by, I had to get rather close to them in order to avoid a crowd coming the other way on the path, and a couple of them glanced up at me, and I smiled at them. To me, I realized afterward, I was smiling as though I was one of them. I was smiling because we were “all in this together” (and if any of you just started singing the theme song from High School Musical, comment and tell me so I don’t feel ridiculous for singing it myself).
Now they looked at me as I passed. They saw me smile. But they just looked away and continued their conversation. I wasn’t one of them! They saw me as…well, they saw me as just some lady walking down the street! Can you believe that? They saw me as, like, a MOM!!!
Now, I know, obviously, that I’m a mom. Trust me, I have three children and a husband who’s out of town a lot. I know I’m a mom. But I try hard not to seem quite so mom-ish. I don’t wear Mom jeans. I don’t tuck in my sweaters. Most of my shoes are still stylish and cute at the cost of comfort. I don’t own even one pair of shoes that say “Hush Puppies” or anything with “Comfort” stamped on the inside. I have tattoos! I go out with my friends and dance and stuff. I try really hard not to have “mom-hair”, though the jury’s still out on whether or not I’m succeeding at that one. But really….I’m still young!!
My son is going to be in high school. Is he ready for this? Am I ready for this? I mean, I really really remember high school. I remember the peer pressure and the scariness and the unsure-ness of it all. Have I prepared him? Will he figure it all out? Will he figure out how to be confident and okay with who he is? Will he realize what kind of friends will help him succeed instead of leading him to failure? Is he ready?
It blows my mind that I’m at this place in life. It really does seem like yesterday that I was the captain of the cheerleaders and worrying about my science test or if the captain of the basketball team still liked me. And I’m excited for Spike to experience all the great parts of high school. I hope he gets involved and makes lifelong friends and learns how to move in the world. And I also know that all the hard parts of high school are a part of his learning as well: the pretty girl that doesn’t know he exists or the team he doesn’t make it onto.
But being young…I mean high school young, not Me-young…is hard! Even though Spike thinks he knows everything, he really knows nothing at all about how to make his way through this life. Ug…he has no idea how hard it is going to be.
I wonder if it’s as hard as being the mom of someone who is about to go through it. I’m gonna say, no.