My son’s senior year of high school is quickly approaching, and I can’t believe it.
From the moment I sent Bobby to school, I dedicated my energy and support into making sure he was happy and successful.
But 12 years is just a blink.
And I’ve always known that the end would come and when it did, I would have a hard time enjoying it and accepting it.
Well, readers, the end is here.
Senior year is just weeks away.
For eleven school years, my identity has been intertwined with Bobby’s academic performance, his extracurricular successes and failures and of course, his friendships and faculty relationships.
“We” are almost finished with school, and I can’t believe it.
I feel guilty saying this, but I wish I could stop time.
Parenting is the adventure of a lifetime–and while our journey isn’t coming to an end, it’s quickly arriving at a significant transition point.
Looking back, I’m amazed at how much Rob and I have learned from Bobby. He exposed us to so many new and unfamiliar things. And through him, my world became so much broader and bolder.
We were the first of our friends to have a child. So by design, our entire child-rearing experience was a very public experiment.
When you are the first of your friends to have a kid, those that follow look at what you’ve done and enhance the script.
As the trailblazers, we had no model for auditing, and we were new to everything. Thank goodness Bobby was chipper and willing to let us succeed and fail regularly.
As parents, we took on everything from interviewing for elite private schools to trying out for sports teams. We were good with the academics. Sports proved more challenging. Still, we navigated making the team and being cut by sticking together and supporting one another in good times and bad.
As a small family with big dreams, we found that we moved a lot.
Moving is hard, and when you relocate, you have to rely on each other in ways that are different from other families.
Sometimes we were the only black people where we went… work… school… socially.
Sometimes we were the youngest parents.
Sometimes we were just altogether out of our league.
No matter what, we learned to adapt because we always had each other. At some point during our continual survival, we began to refer to each other as “Team Sundy” affectionately and bonded tightly, working together to set collective goals, make plans, chase dreams and cheer for each other.
Through all of this, the three of us have established an agreement: even when the world disappoints you, Team Sundy will cheer you on.
We’re far from perfect. However, I would also suggest that the three of us have had the opportunity to experiment and fail more than most people.
Looking back, I believe that it’s so much easier to bet on yourself and take a risk when you know there’s someone in the background cheering you on while you’re chasing your dreams.
I mention this because like all moms, my hopes for Bobby are so much bigger than my goals for myself–and yet he has been an instrumental part of my success and his dad’s.
When he leaves us and goes away to college, Bobby’s departure will feel like the leg of a sturdy three-legged stool has been cut off.
As I think about Bobby leaving, I can’t help but remember all of the things he’s brought to our home, too.
In first grade, Bobby studied Japanese. Those lessons changed the way we ate. He introduced us to mochi ice cream and Ramune soda. For dinner, he insisted on Japanese food. And when it was his turn to select where we’d eat out, we knew: he’d pick Japanese food because he liked to practice his language skills on the staff at our local Japanese restaurant.
I remember being horrified when he spoke Japanese to the restaurant staff. I didn’t want them to think we were mocking them or being insensitive. However, it turns out, kids are fearless, and the staff patiently cultivated a passion in Bobby that he continues to practice to this day–he can often be found reading Japanese comic books and watching Japanese shows on Youtube. This is probably partly because he bravely explored his interests despite my objections.
That same year Bobby decided to join the school lacrosse team. This decision/announcement came right around the same time he was learning to tie his shoes.
Tying your shoes with lacrosse gloves on is impossible for anyone–but is especially difficult for someone new to the world of laced shoes.
In support of Bobby’s passion for lacrosse, Rob spent a lot of time on the sidelines, helping him tie his shoes during the game.
I had never seen someone so small go out for lacrosse, but I loved learning about the sport and watching Bobby play. As a mom, it was also pretty great to see his dad tie his shoes when he came to the sidelines for breaks.
In middle school, Bobby joined the rugby team. His school team was small and traveled to games near and far. I loved the game and the post-game camaraderie between teams.
High school was another adventure–with Bobby joining the robotics team–a sport that didn’t even exist when I was in college.
Robotics opened our family up to another experience–one that was exciting and unfamiliar–and thrilling because the team was incredibly talented and won often and won big.
Each of these experiences was a unique adventure.
I always assumed that parenting was raising someone who was a smaller version of yourself. Bobby has taught me that that’s not true at all.
As a parent, I have learned more from my child than anyone else in my life. He’s introduced me to people, places, and institutions that were not on my radar screen or part of my wheelhouse. A fiercely independent person, Bobby has forged his path and made his way. As the three of us prepare for what’s next, I need to remind myself of an important lesson: parenting is a lifelong learning experience. Things aren’t going to stop when Bobby dons a cap and gown–they’ll continue along a different trajectory, and all of us will need to be ready for new adventures and different life lessons.