Tuesday, March 09, 2010

It's Final Exam Time

Last night was high school orientation for the parents of new, ingoing students. High school. The words alone make me break out into a cold sweat. High school. I absolutely shudder at the thought. I’ve always known this day was coming. I just didn’t know it was Now. And I’m much better with some ideas in theory than I am once they’re put into practice. I know D is going to high school next year, but I didn’t really “know” it until orientation made it real. Real scary.

I found myself tearing up in the auditorium during the orientation. It didn’t help that the principal and vice principal were using words like “involvement” and “insight” and reminding us parents that even though our kids might seem like they’re growing up and don’t need us as much, now is the time that they need us more than ever. We were warned to not back off.

They went on to brag about their academic success, the number of social clubs available, how well their sports teams are faring this year. They told us how classes are chosen and how students are prepared for college and, ultimately, life.

And I was holding back tears because I realized, this is It. This is the real test and I don’t think I’m ready. I feel like my life is about to go into fast forward; I’ll blink and the next four years will be over and D will be gone. I don’t know that I have the energy or the strength to get her through it. I doubt whether my parenting skills can see us both safely to the other side.

She is so excited. She’s scared too, but it’s the good kind because it’s filled with hope and wonder and a sense of adventure. She’s about to embark on a whole new journey full of friends, football games, dates and dances. She’ll face new challenges academically as well as socially and start preparing herself for real life. A real, grownup life that doesn’t include me. Not so much.

I don’t know how to prepare her for her own life. The disappointments and heartbreak I know she’ll face. The frustrations and the stress of learning how to make her way in the world. I’m most afraid because it’s all on me. I never expected or wanted to be single with a high school student. I thought I’d have a partner, a backup, someone to hold my hand and figure it out with me. I don’t even have my own life together most days, and now I have to figure this part out on my own. I hope my mistakes aren’t the kind that can’t be erased.

I wish I could share her enthusiasm and embrace this part of our lives. I wish I could know that her life will be beautiful and full of all of the happiness and love and adventure I want for her. I’m afraid the best I can do right now is take it one step at a time and learn as we go and hope that we make it in one piece. I hope my best is good enough, but I know she deserves far better than just good enough.


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