I have friends who have kids older than mine, heck even Karol’s kids are older than mine. Her kids graduated in 2011 and 2013. I didn’t attend Katarina’s graduation, but I went to Brandon’s. I cried. I cheered, I got emotional. I was so happy for him, but in my experience there is a slight difference between the love for bio kids and step kids (at lest in my experience),
So, when it came close for Zachary to graduate, I started thinking about it and getting emotional at least a week prior to the event even happening. I was at a makeover event on the 29th of May, and was just not in a good place during the day. I couldn’t pinpoint what was bothering me, and all of a sudden it dawned on me that it was because of Zachary’s impending graduation.
The tearing up and emotion would come and go, but I was just overwhelmed by it at times. It is hard to explain exactly what the feelings were about. I was sad that he was all grown up and about to embark on that part of his life that would move him towards his own life and farther away from me. But at the same time, I was happy that he was graduating, and had made it through high school with little or no trouble.
Don’t get me wrong, this kid was NO angel. We fought about his schoolwork and grades ALL the time. We fought about him making Eagle Scout (he told us two months before completion he really didn’t want to do it). We were like, “WTF? Hell no kid, you ARE going to finish it.” Either that, or pay us back for EVERY summer camp we had ever paid for….
But we missed BIG problems. No drinking, no sex, no drugs, no truancy. No driving his parents car into a fence by the football field when he was 14 and took the car to school while they were on a trip…….oh wait, that was me….
Yes, I was a bad kid, so I was always expecting Zachary to do the same dumb shit I did. But he never did. Thank the Universe!!! So I was totally happy about that!
But there are definitely feelings of joy, pride, and for sure sadness in the emotional mix of graduation. Zachary is my oldest. I wonder if it will be even harder for me when the younger one graduates in years? The baby of all 4 kids…..
Well, we got through it, and I only needed to use 4 of the 50 tissues I packed in my purse. (I decided to go bu a new dress that morning, so I didn’t have time to stop and buy tissue packs, so I just shoved a wad of tissues in my purse). I had to give two tissues to Karol. Zack’s dad was stoic, and didn’t need any, although I saw a tear in his eye at least once. To be honest, I was maintaining pretty well, only a few tears here and there. But when the principal got up to speak, he choked up, and that made me lose it. My carefully applied makeup ended up being streaked all over the place. Good thing I didn’t wear my contacts. I had a feeling it might be a bad idea.
So how does it feel when your oldest child graduates from high school? Bittersweet, to be honest. Bitter that they are moving closer to complete independence, and sweet that they are moving closer to complete independence. (I never said it made sense).
In the fall, Zachary will be attending the local Community College, and working. And moving closer and closer to that independent life away from us. I have come to terms with that, and am okay with it!
Many years ago, when Karol and I started dating we had to keep everything hush hush. She was still on Active Duty in the Navy, it was 2004, and at that time the policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was alive and well. Plus I had recently divorced my husband, and was worried about letting my children, who were 5 and 7 at the time to know I was in a relationship with her. They knew we were best friends, and I decided to leave it at that.
She was stationed near Philadelphia with her kids, and my kids and I lived here in Hampton Roads Virginia. In 2006 she was up for orders, and (thankfully) came back to this area, and we bought a house together. When we bought the house, we had still not “told” our kids we were in a relationship, (we explained that we shared a room when we visited each other because we didn’t have a “spare” bedroom at each house), and we decided it was best for each of us to have our own bedroom.
So we had these clandestine “midnight” visits, after which I would sneak back to my room or she would sneak back to hers before the kids woke up. Neither of us was “out” at our jobs, but we were to our close friends. Looking back on it I think we were crazy, but it worked at the time, and I suppose it made things easier for the children to get used to living with new people.
We decided after living together for a year we would tell the children that we were actually a couple. I was totally worried and stressed about it, and when I told them, they were like, “Um, we have known forever Mom.” They were okay with me being in a relationship with a woman, and I was amazed and overjoyed! We had actually prepared ourselves for the worst and realized we may need to sell our house and live apart if our kids freaked out. Our number one priority was the children and how they would feel about our relationship.
Because I had been in a “traditional” marriage when my children were young I never forced the issue about them saying anything about Karol and my relationship to any adults or to their friends. I always introduced Karol as my “friend”, and they did the same. I heard them call her “my mom’s friend” when talking about her to others.
When Zachary was about 15, he began telling people his mom was “bi”. Apparently people his age thought that was cool and I scored him some “cool points”. I suppose technically I am “bi” in his mind since I was married to his dad and am now with a woman. However, I don’t consider myself bisexual. To be honest I don’t even categorize myself, but if it made him feel comfortable, I was okay with him choosing a way to “describe” me.
Sometime during his Sophomore year, Karol brought me a paper that had Zack’s handwriting on it. “Uh oh”, I said. “Is this going to be bad?” (He was not the best student…) She said, “Just read it.” She had seen this paper lying on the dining room table near Zack’s book bag and picked it up and read it. She decided I should read it, and so she gave it to me. I held it in my hand and braced myself.
In his English class, he had been given an assignment to write about himself and his family. In his own handwriting I read, “I found out a few years ago my mom is in a same gendered relationship. I think that is cool. My mom is cool.”
I cried tears of joy. He thought I was cool! That is a pretty amazing thing for a mom of a teenager to be considered cool by her kid!
Zack is now 18, and all of his friends are very well aware of the fact that he has two moms. He calls Karol his “other mom”, and even gave her a “mother’s” pin after earning Eagle Scout.
I guess my worry was always misplaced. I /we should have given our kids more credit. To be honest three out of our four kids are completely accepting of us and they call us their “moms”. I will take it!