I have decided that Chaucer was wrong. If you are the parent of school age children, May is the cruelest month. It is nothing but 31 days of reminders that our babies are growing up.
Usually moms at least get the consolation of Mother's Day, but I got up early in the morning of the second Sunday in May this year so I could accompany my husband while he dropped our daughter off at the middle school for the 8th grade trip to Washington, DC. That's my baby, off on her first major trip without any family members along. Then after dropping by to say my mom for a few hours, I spent the rest of the day helping my son finish his final Senior English project. (The word "final" has such, well, finality about it, when you are the mother of a Senior.)
This is the last month of school for the kids, or at least the last month they are doing any real work. There is nothing like the end of each school year to remind you how fast your children are growing. You put that last report card and the ribbon from the honors assembly into their scrapbook, and are reminded how much time has passed since September, let alone since you pasted that first kindergarten picture on the cover.
The Girl is promoting to high school next year. She auditioned for, and was admitted to the high school performing arts program for orchestra. This is a good thing, and very exciting, but it means she will be going to a different high school than all but a few of her friends next year, and she has been with some of these kids since she started grade school. So all of her 8th grade activities and field trips are colored by her thoughts that this will be the last time she does these things with her friends.
May is an even crueler month when you child is a High School Senior. As I write this the Boy is finishing up his last day of exams. There is much to look forward to, with his summer job and his fall college both lined up, and yet his days too are filled with melancholy reminders: school projects, final exams, final assemblies and more. Last weekend was prom. A year ago he looked like a kid playing dress up in the tuxedo, this year he looks grown up
and dignified, even if he doesn't feel that way.
The real gut-wrencher for both of us was last night, when the Boy played his last home game. He has been playing baseball since kindergarten, and except for a road game that we won't be able to attend, this was it. In a reasonably happy ending that I couldn't have invented (but wished awfully hard for) he caught the whole game, got two clean hits, and his team won, for only the second time this season. He was walking away, but at least he walked away happy.
There is a genuine bereavement in all this I think. Now matter how much we look forward to their future adventures (they are after all becoming the adults we raised them to be), we are losing the babies we cuddled and the children we nurtured and the teens were mentored. We mourn what we leave behind, even as we anticipate tomorrow.