Firsts and Lasts

For much of our lives as parents, we celebrate our children’s “firsts.” We remember their first words and steps. We delight in their first days of school and the first lost tooth. We revel in their transitions from elementary school to middle school and then middle school to high school. We bear witness to the first dates and dances and the first time they drive away from the house without us in the car. These milestones mark the passage of time but more than that, they are the signposts of our children becoming their own people.

This year, as Miguel entered his senior year of high school, I began to notice the “lasts.” When the first day of school came and I forced him to pose for a picture, I knew it would be the last picture in that series.

In October, we sat in the bleachers on a cold and windy night to watch him play his last soccer game. He started playing soccer when he was 3 and played his last game at 17. Soccer has been a major part of his life…and ours. When he walked off the field for the last time, I asked him if he was sad and he said that he wasn’t, “I had a great game and I’m ready for whatever comes next.” He’s more ready for whatever comes next than I am.

Since then, there was the last Sadie Hawkins dance and the last haunted house and hayride. The holidays are coming and will be layered with the knowledge that this is the last year where things will be exactly as they have always been. I know that all of these “lasts” and changes are paving the way for an entirely new set of “firsts” but I will not be a part of those in the same way I have been with the others. Many of those will belong solely to him. This is the way it is supposed to be and I know we’re blessed that he is ready and able to strike out on his own.

So, I insist on pictures more than I normally would and I hold him just a little tighter when we hug and smile and blink back tears as he makes his way through his last year of high school. All the while, I’m so grateful for all that we’ve shared. He is ready for whatever comes next and I’m getting there.