This moment was years in the making – and inevitable

By Lori Clinch

Way back in the day, when my good friend, Julie, and I dropped our youngest children off at kindergarten, I looked at her and said, “Do you know what that was?”

“You bet I do,” she responded without missing a beat. “That was our last.”

Our lives would be forever changed and it was a bittersweet moment for the both of us. A kid-free house meant we could shop without a sitter, have lunch with friends without guilt, and keep the kitchen clean for more than 20 minutes at a time.

On the other hand, our families were growing up and we didn’t like it so much.

What we did like, however, was the last volcano project, the final solar system scenario, and Lord love us, we would never ever have to help a child memorize all 50 state capitals so they could pass the ever-loving test.

The second grade talent shows were darling … for the first 10 kids or so, but by the time we got to the 20th little dear penciling an artistic piece, we were over it.

“Do you know what that was?” Julie asked as the show finally came to an end.

“You bet!” I replied with glee. “That was our last.”  We didn’t jump for joy or offer up a high five, but our inner moms certainly did.

After weeks of pinning moths and staging crickets, our youngest children turned in their final bug collection and we could not have been happier. Julie and I called each other on the phone as that stinky display walked out the door in the arms of our proud sons, and happily proclaimed, “That was the last!”

Sometimes, Julie and I changed it up and simply said, “We’re done with that!”

We were ecstatic when we were done with science fair, history projects and Presidents Day, which involved them dressing up as a president, memorizing his life and being quizzed by classmates who were posing as reporters in a press conference.

There was no easy studying for that!

Although our sons looked so handsome in their tuxes and their dates were beautiful, Julie and I jumped for joy after our final junior prom, and the 24-hour marathon of staging, cooking, cleaning and chaperoning that goes along with it.

We are good moms, we truly are. We enjoy each and every minute with our children. One minute we are slamming on the proverbial brakes and the next we are hitting the gas. Judge us if you must, but you show me a mom who thinks the 60-page history document is a hoot and I’ll show you a lady who takes a nip in the afternoon.

But now, just a few short days away, Julie and I are doing a tailspin. For our lasts will be the final last of our child-rearing days.

As we prepare for their graduation day, Julie and I will iron their gowns and think of all of the clothing we have ironed for our sons throughout the years. The baptismal gowns, first communion suits and those cute little bow ties for their sixth grade graduation.

We will tie our sons’ ties, tell them how handsome they are and beam with pride as we fight back the tears.

This Sunday, Julie and I will be sitting in a pew with our families and watching our “babies” walk down the aisle at their high school graduation commencement. Since I’m an ugly crier, I’ll try not to sob when my “baby” hands me a rose. I’ll try not to wail when they hand him his diploma and, most importantly, I’ll do my level best not to look at Julie.

For this last will be the toughest so far. I imagine that when it is over, Julie and I will meet up, give each other a tear-filled hug and proclaim, “That was our last.”

Our hearts will be heavy, our eyes will brim with tears and our lives will be forever changed. But hey! At least it will be the last time we have to worry about paying for college.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to loriclinch2010@gmail.com.