Clapping and Crying with all the other Moms

I always weep at endings.

The end of the school year slays me every time.

More than any other ending, it marks time for me. The slash on the calendar is dark blood red. This ending has been earned. Yet I don’t want it.

The door closing feels heavy and even though I know I have no power to stop it, I feel like running toward it, asking nicely if it could take it’s time…close slowly…tenderly…give us a few more days.

The slamming seems final. And it is.

Another year of lunches and rides and notes and homework…the cycles of sports and choir and band and art…the friends that hurt and the friends that helped us heal…the joy of newness and the scary stuff…the failing and fumbling and the tears.

All the laughing and running and playing is dying down over here.

No more Barbie Jeep, no more sparkly streamers hanging from handlebars.  No one wants to play on the slip and slide.  I remember days of baby pools and strollers and swing sets…the messiness…the laughter…the living.

Star Wars figures have taken their place on the shelf…dusty and alone.

I’m wandering around the house trying to look busy (to who? I don’t know? The busy police?)…trying to be busy to take my mind off the ending.  But I just wander…not really understanding how I feel.

I look at the bookshelf…a safe place to get lost for a while.  The books mark our journeys from Junie B. Jones to John Green and I can’t seem to part with any.  It’s like a living scrapbook of words that have fed our souls and kept us company.  We will never have too many books. They are our friends…constant and reliable.

I just saw a friend who is moving in a week.  She welcomed us when we moved into the neighborhood 11 years ago.  We have had many a cup of coffee and a glass of wine while the kids played and the years passed. I love her. She was boxing up things and I was in her empty house and I just couldn’t take it.  We both just stood there and cried. No words.

Another ending.

I always weep at endings.

The last of my kids finish up at elementary school this year.  The adorable, loving, little, everyone knows your name elementary school.  The place where they have taught and nurtured and loved my kids for 11 years.  Talk about the end of an era.

We “Clap out” our kids at the end of school.  All the parents line up and clap while the 5th graders march out.  I think they should call it the “Cry out” for me.  I’m anticipating weeping at that ending too.  Hey! We should call it the clap and cry out…clapping and crying at the same time pretty much sums up motherhood.

Weeping seems bad, right? Like I’m unhappy. But I’m not. I swear.

I’m just confused.

How did I go from eagerly anticipating my first baby to having three kids out of grade school (and two in high school!)?

How did I go from spoon feeding peas to worrying about drinking and driving and dating?

My son said the other day that he “hates change”.  He said, “Change is bad”.

Oh no I thought…I have to help him see change in a positive light…change is the only thing we know for sure will happen.  We have to get used to it.  We have to accept it.  It’s not bad…right?

Maybe he thinks it’s bad because I’m over here crying looking at baby pictures.  What have I done?

I specifically remember my mom talking to me about this.  Many times.  It’s an ending sure but it’s a beginning too…or it’s a beginning and it’s exciting and you are happy but the reason you are crying is because it’s an ending too…how many times over the years are we in that space…that in between…the ending and the beginning.

The sadness and the excitement…the saying good-bye and saying hello.  It doesn’t even matter how many times…I always weep at endings.

I remember once I was crying on the phone to my mom during the college years…I was distraught…things were changing…I just had a break up…I was down.  This is what she said to me…no joke…and it worked…”Honey, seriously, stop crying…wash your face, put on some lipstick, get a Diet Coke and Get out there.”

Diet Coke and lipstick…the cure all.

And now I’m the mom. I have to buck up and give the advice now.

Of course I can’t tell my son to put on lipstick.  What’s the equivalent for a boy?

And telling them to have a Diet Coke seems archaic like I didn’t get the memo…so do I say…have an organic green smoothie?  That doesn’t have the same ring to it.

How about this?

Change is part of life.  It’s difficult and it’s okay to cry.  When we cry, we know we are most alive because our heart is feeling things.  When we are sad to move on it means we have loved where we have been and that is a gift.  A treasure.  You are building your story and God is moving you along as you become who you are meant to be.  You take all of this with you.  All of the memories, the people, the experiences, the feelings, the knowledge, the wisdom…you are like a sponge and you absorb it all.  Things are changing yes and so are you – you are ready.  Be grateful. Take a minute.  Let the grateful tears fall…acknowledge that you are a little scared of something new…recognize that you were comfortable and that felt good.  But part of life is getting comfortable being uncomfortable.  Learning that you can do hard things.  Trusting that all will be well.  It’s time to move on now.  You do not go alone.  Dad and I are with you every step of the way.  And God is with you…he knows what you need and He can’t wait to give it to you.  Life is amazingly beautiful. Get out there.

Step joyfully into this new adventure

I will be stepping out with you…clapping and crying all the way.

graduation first step

©2014 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™, All Rights Reserved

9 thoughts on “Clapping and Crying with all the other Moms

  1. Lee

    Awesome words, Sue…so fitting for my week as we celebrated our youngest graduating from 8th grade. After 16 years at this grade school, I will no longer get the weekly parent emails or sign up for pizza days or volunteer for art smart. I know I should be scooting over to the last day of school for the younger grades to drop off the uniforms that we will no longer need, but instead they sit in a bag, waiting….not sure for what. There was so much celebrating, laughs and tears…even from the kids, but probably the most moving part of graduation for me was a bit unexpected….seeing all the rows of gold tasseled teens take each other’s hands and stretch across the aisles of our church to sing the “Our Father.” I wanted to nudge my husband to get a photo and then I just stopped, joined in the chanting with my glassy eyes, and celebrated the moment, knowing that that prayer and His love and protection will always bring them together, wherever they go. I think we have courage to change and watch our kids move the tassel over, let go of familiar faces, routines and places and embrace new ones because we know He will always be there, ready to take our outstretched hands. Thank goodness!

  2. Katie Hayes

    I love the reality of your emotions! We totally know that not only are the parents crying, but the teens are freaking out too….so that’s way we created the 1 day S.Wo.R.D. retreat for any high schooler who wants to help their transition into summer this Friday at SJC! I’ll email you details Sue—maybe it can help make that “hate” of change transition into a “bring it on!” Peace to you in this transition.

  3. Mom

    So Happy “YOU got out there”! Your family and friends need you with your lipstick on, coke in hand (forget the organic green smoothie), inspiring, us with your insightful writings. Hugs

  4. Jennifer

    I love Natalie Sleeth’s “Hymn of Promise” for this line: “In our end, is our beginning, in the seed an apple tree…” It’s a beautiful hymn.

    I think your thoughts to your son are spot on.

    PS: Don’t get rid of the books.

  5. Debbie

    Beautifully written and shared. You touched so many pieces of my heart and memories. Crying is good when letting go and treasuring the memories, but as I have said to my kids and try to remember myself, the next adventure will build beautiful memories as well. Knowing and trusting that God is there to lead and support makes the next adventure that much more exciting. <3

  6. Holly

    What a privilege to live & love with such feeling and passion. This is my favorite post yet!

    I know change is inevitable and change is good but I’m not one that easily embraces it. Transitions are the hard part – the knowing what is left behind and that fear of what’s to come. I like how Shel Silverstein said “…,,,Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” And that is what I will strive for – faith in our own beliefs to guide us to the next adventure.

    But this week: tears of gratitude for the community we live in and the teachers who give with a whole heart. I couldn’t be more grateful. Xo

  7. Marianne

    May you be blessed to see your grandchildren play at the same table your children played. Yes, I saved it.
    My daughter moves today. I play with her children. Soon they will be in school all day. The constant is change. I think I have learned to welcome and embrace it. We still cry at endings. She called to cry yesterday as she left her house for the last time.

    Thanks for sharing.


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