Resting in my recliner, I’m staring out the window at the trees blowing in the wind that are flowering way too early for the 1st of March. In Kansas, there’s always a late spring cold snap. Returning to freezing temperatures won’t be good for the tender, young blossoming pink pear trees, white hyacinth, forsythia, and my bright yellow jonquils. I worry about the jonquils. They were my grandmother’s; the bulbs were transplanted with great care from her rural home. They span across the yard to greet Spring every year. I love that these bulbs have been blooming for over 75 years.
I can’t believe it’s finally March of 2017. When my son entered school, they referred to his Pre-K class as the “Class of 2017”. At the time, this sounded absurd! How ridiculous to think of these 4 and 5-year-olds as graduates! But yet, here I am. I have a 6″8′, 18-year-old man now living in my home – and, if I’m completely honest, dying to leave.
For my son and millions of high school seniors across the U.S., March is the month that will forever change their lives. Colleges and universities will be extending admission to their hallowed halls: the students that will make up their “Class of 2021.” These seniors wait eagerly for news of their acceptance with questions swirling in their heads in rapid fire. “Will I get into college?” “Which colleges will except me and which will reject me?” “Will I go to the local state or community college?” “Will I be one of the few to be accepted into one of the country’s most elite schools?” “Will I stay close to home or fly across the country to live a new life?” “Will my family be able to afford college, much less the school of my choice?” “If I’m lucky enough to be accepted into more than one school, how will I decide?” “Will I be happy there?” “Will I fit in?” “Am I ready for this?” And, of course, “I cannot wait to leave this house! Freedom at last!”
These questions and the stress that comes alongside constantly troll their minds. My son still has homework to do and grades to keep up in these last few precious weeks of his high school experience. Seniors know the last steps are in front of them: spring break, completion of a final project, high school prom, the moment they walk down the aisle to accept the diploma they have been working towards for as long as they can remember. Over the summer months, my son will be daydreaming of leaving home and imagining what college life in a new city or town will bring.
For me, anxiety and anticipation spans the distance between excitement and sheer panic. Have I done enough to prepare him? Where did all of these years go? I’m so proud of my son, but I don’t want him to leave. He’s my first born, and the house won’t be the same without him. He is my only child, once my precious baby, and I will miss him dearly – his crabby self, his delightful self, and all. The nest will be empty. How will I spend my time? Will he be close enough to come home on the weekends, or will I only see him during school breaks? Part of me is as proud as a mother could be. Part of me is heartbroken.
March will come and go, leaving significant life changes in its wake. I have no doubt it will come in as a lamb and roar 100 miles an hour out as a lion. For as the calendar turns to April, my son will know which direction the winds will take him from here and into the future. I will be adrift in these winds, searching for a place in the world to anchor me or, maybe, to take flight.