One of the great joys of being a parent is being present as your child experiences big moments, like the first day of school. (Jennifer Bardsley)

One of the great joys of being a parent is being present as your child experiences big moments, like the first day of school. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Our children aren’t the only ones who are growing up

Her 14-year-old son’s high school orientation was an evening of reckoning for this mom.

I’ve never felt so old as did when I took my son to high school orientation. Time smacked me on both sides of the face that night.

There I was, sitting on the bleachers and asking myself the big questions. How did I get here? Where did the last 14 years go? It seemed like yesterday that I was pushing my baby in a stroller. Now we were analyzing a course catalog together and counting credits for graduation.

I was also counting the time I had left with him living at home. High school would be here in four months. College will soon loom. There were four more summers left to go camping. Four more opportunities to carve pumpkins on Halloween. Four more chances for the Easter Bunny to bring socks and floss picks, because the Easter Bunny’s evil that way.

I tried to pay attention to the presentation, but it was overwhelming. I thought instead about what I was like when I was 14. As a graduating eighth- grader, I knew everything, and would gladly tell you exactly how you could change your life for the better.

As the saying goes, karma is a you-know-what. Now I’m the mother on the receiving end of 14-year-old wisdom. That makes me — gulp — as old as my parents were when I was in high school. Wow, that’s old.

I’m so old that the car I’m driving right now will be the vehicle my son takes out on the road for the first time.

I’m so old that I’ve already written the last check for his braces.

I’m so old that I rely on him for tech support with the Wi-Fi.

I’m so old that I don’t know about new baby inventions like DockaTots or SNOO Smart Sleepers.

But maybe I should rephrase all of this, because as I said before, time has slapped me on both sides of the face. High school orientation night was like staring into a mirror and noticing that my cheeks were inflamed.

My son’s so old that I haven’t been able to help with his math homework for years.

My son’s so old that he opens jars of spaghetti sauce for me.

My son’s so old that he fires up the lawn mower without being asked, because he wants to earn money.

My son’s so old that he asks probing questions about the Mueller Report.

One of the great joys of being a parent is being present as your child experiences big moments. The first day of preschool, kindergarten and middle school have hallowed places in our memory banks. But high school feels different.

For me, high school orientation night felt like the beginning of an end. It was a fresh reminder that every day we have with our children is precious. The days are long but the years are short. Our kids aren’t the only ones growing up.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at

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