I am the mom of a senior in high school. I have read articles that tell me that as a mom of a senior, we should be grieving over lost events such as proms and graduation and I have read articles that tell me to suck it up because at least he isn’t being drafted. I hate that my kid, an athlete, won’t be able to have his last high school season. I hate that I won’t get to have the 2020 standard prom photo where I am desperately hanging onto my first born before he ventures off with his date, and I hate that I may not be able to see him graduate. And I get that life could be worse – way worse – he could be drafted.
But, I have to admit. I have my boy home with me – quarantined and not able to run off with friends at a moment’s notice. I have him for family dinners, I have him down the hall late at night, and I have him to gradually wake up without yelling that he will be late for school. I even have him for family movie nights that unfortunately became a distant memory in the past couple of years. I have him 24/7 and I love it. I will never have this time back. I will never, ever have this time back. He is off to college in five short months.
This time is a gift – it is sweet – it is fun – and yes, it can be boring and frustrating – but it is a gift. With this time, I tell him that I have been “homeschooling” him in home economics. I have been cramming - everything that I wished I had taught him and everything I attempted to teach him throughout the years is being taught with this gift of time. He made a family dinner the other night, made muffins for breakfast, did his laundry, and cleaned his room. I have more plans – cleaning, organizational strategies, and how to make a cheesecake. He is begrudgingly playing along.
I think that he knows. As he stands in the kitchen stirring the muffin batter, I share that I recall standing in that exact spot when he was a kindergartener telling me that his girlfriend told him they were going out for dinner so I didn’t need to make him dinner. As I watch him attempt to carefully fold his clothes, I think back to how large his clothes look and it seems like yesterday that I had washed his newborn clothes with the special detergent and perfectly folded his tiny onesies. As I watch him clean his room I think how sad it will be when it is empty – when he is at college and it sits empty. I know that I will miss the piles of dirty laundry, the dishes he secretly brings to his room, the music, and the laughing as he facetimes with friends. I will miss all of that as his room sits still and quiet - and empty.
I think he knows. And while he misses his friends, schools, and sports, I think he is enjoying our time, too. Savoring this time together.
I wish we weren’t dealing with the Coronavirus and it’s devastation. I wish people were not suffering, afraid, and lonely.
But, I don’t wish away this unexpected time. I cherish it for the gift that it is and I will not let it go to waste. I will live in the moment so that I will have no regret. So that I will not look into his empty room or his empty seat at the dinner table and wish I had this time back. I have my senior and he is home.
Laura Domer-Shank, Ed.D. is a School Psychologist, Adjunct Professor, and Consultant of twenty-five years who specializes in supporting children and families. Dr. Domer-Shank is the wife to Neil who is an educator and coach and together, they actively parent their three children – Cam, Larkyn, and Ella.