That was today. My youngest child, Miss Tall and Blond, officially entered the doors of our town’s only high school to register as a freshman. Under the class photos hanging in the hall —dating back a very long time — we did the rounds.
A payment for P.E. uniform, locker lock, registration fee was made, a locker number and combination fetched, a photo taken for school ID card was taken. Under the watchful eyes of my mom and dad from the Class of ’48 and my uncle, Class of ’52.
It was the oddest feeling to realize that while Miss TAB was starting the next leg of her journey at 8 a.m. today, I began the last leg of one of my own. In just a few short years, I won’t be entering McLoughlin High School as the mother of a student there ever again.
Two of my six children have already graduated from here, their contributions in music engraved on a bevy of trophies. Martha Stewart, Jr., is in her senior year, preparing how to conquer the next stage of life.
No doubt about it, my family is doing its part in making sure the Mac-Hi legacy continues.
It’s within these halls that my parents met, both shy and misunderstood at home. It was here that Uncle Alan became a football star (at least in our family) and broke a few hearts. The old, plush seats of the auditorium sat silent as my children’s daddy stole his first kiss from me.
Today I looked at the school with new eyes. I squinted at the lockers, wondering which might have been Camo Man’s. I gazed at the wide and high hallway and imagined him walking with his buddies and laughing like a high school boy. The way he still does.
I wondered just how many times we had crossed paths in this school, never noticing each other. If our shoulders had ever accidentally brushed in the chaos of class changes or if we charged up the front steps in the same moment.
It felt good, I have to say, to send my baby into such hallowed halls. Her own high school stories began today, written so far in expectations, anxiety and hope. Maybe she’ll find the teacher who switches on the passion that drives her toward a certain career. Maybe she’ll be exposed to a cause that stays forever in her heart. Maybe she’ll meet the boy who will later meet her at the alter.
I have to stop working now and go into the bathroom for a nice little cry.