The End- Bidding Farewell to Our Days at Montessori
Our keyboard is getting pelted with lots of tear drops lately. My daughter has been preparing her graduation speech for 8th grade. The theme: friendship. I read over it last night, in awe of what she pulled from inside. Later, I shed tears.
It hadn’t hit me that we were rapidly approaching the end of our time at this precious, protected time in life. I’d been busy with my ten days of crazy, birthday parties, Memorial Day “stuff”, another book signing, and working on my second novel. I pulled up to the school to drop her off one morning, when it dawned on me that I’d only be doing this for roughly three more weeks and then it would be over. The End. Period.
I cried all the way home–blubbering, hiccuping, temple-pounding, crying. I needed it, because I hadn’t been in the moment for a while. I’d been zooming from one activity to the next, with little reflection about what it all meant; uncharacteristic of me, really.
When we transitioned into Montessori back when my oldest was in fourth and my youngest was in second, our children felt adrift…quite frankly, we all did. It was as though we were in a giant ocean without a life vest. We’d envisioned schooling them in an alternative school and those dreams weren’t working. Then, Montessori threw us a life-preserver and got us out of troubled waters. It took a couple of years for the waters to settle, but our children thrived and so did we as a family, making life-long friendships.
But, we are losing something as we move forward. We are losing the closeness of a campus that houses ~350 children. If I don’t know what’s going on with my child, someone does! We’ll miss the tight bonds between teacher-parent-child. In my son’s high school, I’ve met a couple of the teachers, but most are anonymous…it’s simply not realistic in a giant school. The amazing, adventurous field trips that require no sleep, yet 25 hour days, fill our photo albums and the hearts of our children and family.
Most of all, I know that this is symbolic of letting go of an innocent, wonder-filled time. I know if we peek into our hearts, there were times where, as young parents, we may have whispered (or screamed!), “Oh God, when are these kids going to grow up? I just need a minute to myself?” Now the minutes have become hours, the hours are growing into full length days, and soon the days will become a few days as we let them go on trips with friends, and then poof, they are off to college. Where did the time go? I don’t know about you, but I feel as though the toddler years moved by as slow as molasses and these years are flying by like wind roaring through the Delta.
I’m in a tug of war of celebrating and mourning. Letting go and holding on. I wish I had parents to talk to about this dilemma. I call upon elders whom I respect, and they lament about their own push-pull experiences. I recall a story by one of my treasured friends who has raised two sons and a daughter, each one of them turning out as lovely as the next, respectful, kind, married to spouses whom they love. As his children grew, knowing how close-knit they were, I asked, “Doesn’t it kill you to imagine them moving out?” He got wide-eyed, and then chuckled. He clasped my shoulder with his hand and looked over at my son, who was then at the tender age of five, and my daughter, a delightful two, sucking her thumb, and said, “Oh no…I can’t wait. That’s what the teen years are for. They get you ready. Just wait. You’ll be helping him pack his bags.”
I looked over at my son, who looked up at me that toddler sparkle, and I cried. I thought, ‘Never!’
Here’s the thing…even on my darkest days, I still feel that way about both of my kids…’Never!’ Maybe I’m more Italian than I think!! I know my work over the next few years is to learn to let go so that they can let go. Maybe I’ll be that writer who cranks out a book a year to save my sanity. Getting lost in my characters is very cheap therapy and it does keep me company.
However, I began this day by posting a quote on Facebook from one of my favorite author’s, Elizabeth Berg. It’s from her novel, Home Safe. It’s about an author whose husband recently died and she’s in a dry spell with writing. She’s in conflict with her only child and is teaching a writing class, and through it, begins to heal. I love this novel for a variety of reasons, but mostly, because I feel that Elizabeth Berg speaks my language…she thinks my thoughts. As I end this post and reflect upon ending this time at Montessori and begin the letting go, I leave you with a quote from Elizabeth Berg’s book. It captures so much of who I am, what I think about community, how we need one another. For who are we, if we are not in community?
“And now a thought comes to her, a thunking kind of realization: that she is the kind of person who must do things for or on behalf of another. For her, the taste of the ice cream, the red of the sunset, the humor in the movie must be shared to be.”