Well, it’s here—the week of my middle son’s high school graduation! I have such a different perspective with my second child than I did when my oldest son finished his high school career. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad perspective, just different. I feel a bit more mature and more at peace with the entire process. I will admit that it helps when your kids have a plan for at least the next year, and it’s even better when they develop a plan every year. In the end, it all works out, and I know it will all be good.

During the next few days and weeks, I will be watching many of my friends as their first child graduates from high school, and I will be there with a hug or a shoulder for them to cry on. Whether it’s an only child, a first born, a middle child, or the last one, I’m sure there will be many tears shed as we all learn to deal with the changes that are about to come.

My middle son will be graduating this week from Grand Rapids Catholic Central; ironically, it’s the same place my oldest son attended kindergarten many years ago when St. Andrews Catholic School was located in the Cathedral Square. Thinking about his upcoming graduation has also made me reflect back on the difference between my oldest child and my middle child starting school—whether it was kindergarten or college. When I dropped off my oldest son on his first day of kindergarten, I had to rush out the door because I was sobbing hysterically. When I picked him up at the end of the day, he said to me, “Mom, you didn’t even say goodbye.” Little did he know that I couldn’t form the words, and I didn’t want to embarrass him by crying when he was so happy to be at school.

The story was basically the same when I dropped my first born off at boarding school when he was 14 years old! There were tears flowing as we said goodbye, and I wondered what the future would hold for him. However, by the time I dropped him off at college, I felt like I was an old pro at goodbyes. I was happy that I wasn’t one of the moms who had to leave my sunglasses on to hide my red eyes, or hold onto my husband so tightly when we said goodbye to our son. In fact, I was fine as we made the nine hour drive back home to Michigan.

So, number two son, I am prepared for you to leave! I’m sure I will shed a tear or two (or maybe even three), but my days of sobbing uncontrollably and gasping for air when we share a last hug are done. That behavior stopped after your brother’s second year of boarding school. I now know that I am happy to see you move on, grow, and mature.

I’m excited about the path my middle son has chosen for himself. He has a bit of a different plan than his older brother. He is taking a year to continue playing hockey, so stay tuned for updates on his new adventures. I will be sure to keep everyone posted on how this plan works for him. My mother likes to call it his “gap year”—just like Malia Obama is doing. Hmmm…I’m not so sure of that!

I have a few words of advice for all of the moms out there who are sending their first child out into the big world: Remember your sunglasses and your tissues, and know that all of us “seasoned” moms are right there with you. I understand now why the youngest child is usually easy going and happy most of the time. I think it’s because they didn’t have to live with their mother’s overprotectiveness—ever! The last one is just happy to be along for the ride. I will be smiling when I seen my third and youngest child walk across that graduation stage, and it’s still three years away. I sure hope we both survive until then!

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