Swamp and Circumstance*

Look at that amazing, freshly-minted college grad.

It’s all about perspective.

And the way you see things, of course, is very much tied to all the previous experiences, or lack thereof, you’ve encountered in life. 

Which is why my friend, who just sent her only, almost-4-year-old child off to preschool for the first time, was in borderline meltdown mode** as she anxiously checked her phone every 27.5 seconds for the proof-of-life photo the preschool teacher promised to send. 

So cuuuuuute. I remember that. 

Heck, even the daycare drop is forever sealed in my memory. And that was just with my mom and dad! In theory, the safest, least traumatic, definitely cheapest parental secession that could have ever taken place. AND YET, I sobbed bitterly the entire half-hour drive into the office after leaving my 4-month-old with them in the house I grew up in.

The hardest thing a parent ever does is leave a child in someone else’s hands. It’s tough every step of the way — kindergarten, middle school, high school, and, gulp, beyond …

Hate to break it to you, it definitely gets worse the older they get.

I palmed off No. 1’s kindergarten handoff to my husband, fearing I couldn’t handle it. Fifth grade promotion was hard because these neighborhood kids who’d carpooled together forever were scattering off to different middle schools and don’t even get me started on middle school. It was a lovely, tight-knit community where my oldest child truly blossomed. Then, I spent No. 1’s entire high school senior year on the verge of collapse. I remember a teary Panda Express lunch with my friend Paty. Her oldest had just graduated from college. She put it all in perspective for me when she said high school graduation wasn’t bad, the toughest was college graduation because that was letting go … for good. 

I hadn’t even stopped to consider that eventuality.

That’s so far off it’ll neeeeeeevvvver happen, I thought. Then, boom. Four years later, it has. She’s done. Graduated. Flown the nest, even if her old volleyball uniforms, prom dresses and an unholy amount of fuzzy socks clogging up the biggest and best closet in the house all say otherwise. 

My husband declared rather unsentimentally, on the very day of commencement, to his oldest child: “Well, we don’t have to worry about you anymore. One down, two to go.”

I don’t know what’s wrong with him. I have not stopped worrying one eensy bit. Never will.

So, to all you newbies out there who haven’t made it this far into the child-rearing game, if you’re like me — and not, ahem, cold-hearted like some people I know — I have a bit of advice because so far I’m managing pretty well and denial is really only just a small part of it. I’m not a licensed psychologist or a board-certified psychiatrist or anything, but I can tell you with confidence that what you need to get through these rather angsty moments that pop up every step of the parenting way is … cake. Good cake. And lots of it.

Highly recommend Madonna Inn cake to ease those bittersweet parenting moments, but if you’re nowhere near San Luis Obispo, Calif., then I guess Little Debbie Swiss Rolls might do. They’ll be inferior, but beggars can’t be choosers.

*There was some pomp to ye ol’ circumstance but more perspiration because it was 91 degrees at the time of graduation and I felt so bad for those graduates (and faculty!) in their decidedly non-breathable, Hefty-bag robes sweating it out in the Central Coast of California sun.

**I’m exaggerating, of course, it was more like every 4 minutes Becca checked, and I need to set the record straight in the off chance someone (Lacy) narcs on me ‘cuz she won’t actually read this because she’s not a follower. Which is fine. Tottttttaaaaallly fine.

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