We took a few moments out of our Christmas hustle to celebrate a major family milestone: My oldest finished all over her college applications on Christmas Eve. The application process, for those of you who don’t have high school-aged children, isn’t what it used to be. Gone are the days when you could submit a few handwritten applications and hope for the best. Between SAT prep classes, AP credits, weighted and unweighted GPA’s, and extra curricular activities, you start to think your kid has to be a super hero to get into a decent school. Oh, and did I mention that colleges, which twenty-years ago would have been considered safety schools, are now as selective as the Ivies?
As intense as the process has been these last few months, I have to say it’s been enjoyable in a peculiar, bitter-sweet kind-of-way. Yes, there were days when I wanted to STRANGLE my oldest, and days, I’m sure, when she wanted to strangle me; but the experience has brought us closer than ever. It’s been fun, if occasionally nerve wracking, to watch Hyacinth figure out which schools are best for her; to hear her muse about what she wants to do with her life, how she imagines her future. Do I worry about what kind of world will be waiting for her when she graduates? Sure. But she’s a great kid. I have to believe she’ll find her place.
There’s nothing like having a kid apply to college to make you aware how quickly the years have passed. Activities and obligations that seemed like they would never end are suddenly over, and you catch yourself saying, “Wow, this is the last time we’ll ever do this as a family,” or “This is the last time she’ll ever do that.” Some of my friends have kids who have already graduated from college. They tell me life opens up in all sorts of new and unexpected ways. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to the next phase–for my oldest and for me. But in the meantime, I’m going to savor these next few months.