As of 7:00 this morning, I made my 6,602 (give or take a few) peanut butter and jelly school lunch sandwich, fed Joe and watched him roar off to the high school on the back of his morotrcycle to take his final final public school exam.
The enormity of that moment was not lost on me.
I became a School Mom in 1999 when Meghan began kindergarten, and it’s been non-stop ever since: sack lunches, drop offs and pick ups, field trips and concerts, science fairs and homeroom duties. I was thinking about all of that, all those moments, all that life, Monday evening as I drove home from taking senior pictures of one of Joe’s classmates that lives just around the corner from us. It struck me that these kids, Joe’s classmates and good buddies, have become a little bit Iike an extended family to me. We moved here in 2005, just three months before Joe was to start kindergarten himself and we didn't know a soul in Fayetteville. Both kids had left behind all of their friends that they've known their whole short lives and both were a little nervous about the first day of school in their new town. I've written about Meghan's experience here, but it was Joe that had the hardest time that first month of school, wanting me to keep him company for as long as his (amazingly wonderful!) teacher would let me until he finally decided that he liked kindergarten and that he didn't need me around anymore. I began volunteering at his grade school, coming in at Library Time to help maintain calm and also to help in his classrooms. It was in his classrooms that I began making friends of my own, first with the kids, later with their parents.
And what a welcoming group it was, full of smiles, laughter, warmth and friendliness (and a lot of mischief from the kids!).
This month Joe's class, all the kids I've met and helped out in reading groups, tying shoes and whispering to be quiet, will be donning caps and gowns and striding across the stage to receive their high school diplomas. They're all grown up, full of dreams and achievements, some going off to college in the fall, some going into the military, some not quite sure what they want to do. But no matter what, I am so, so proud of them all.
Thank you, Emily, for helping me along the way and for being a friend. You'll go far and I can't wait to see what you do.