Transitions: Inexperienced Chicago mom finally comes into her own at son’s graduation

I watched in pride as my husband tied my oldest son’s tie. I wiped a little lint off the shoulder of his neatly pressed, brand new suit. I looked into the eyes of the little boy, now a striking young man that stood before me and I felt the nostalgia rush in, hard.

“Time to go,” I announced, swallowing the tears I knew would embarrass him.

My son grabbed his cap and gown and off we shuffled. As we walked into the long high school hallway I took in the sea of blue silky zippered gowns whizzing by, partnered off with a barrage of colorfully dressed and well-heeled mothers at their side.

Kiss, Kiss.

Off the graduates went to their lineup as we waited to be first in line for seat-saving.

On the line to enter the auditorium, I was surrounded by the mothers I had shared many moments of history these past 12 years of school. We shared a few niceties, some intros of visiting grandparents and some what are they doing next year conversations.

I was instantly reminded that I have always been the Inexperienced Mom in all of these situations. My son’s class so happened to have an overwhelming amount of youngest children or “last” children, with moms a good 10 to 15 years older than me.

I was a young mom with a preschooler who looked more like a kid I was babysitting for, than my own child. I often found myself alone at Mom’s Day, Hot Lunch volunteering or PTA events when all the other moms were off chatting in pairs. I often sat in back rows at plays or shows the kids did, because I didn’t know the ‘right’ time to arrive to get a seat.

These moms were pros. These moms knew how to pack the kids the best lunches, how to plan for trips, how to organize the school locker or notebooks just so. These moms didn’t fret on what to wear to the school dinner or how to prepare for college apps. These moms showed up early enough to get front rows.

I was an insecure, clueless, newbie mom always a small step behind the others. My son always seemed happy, but I always felt he’d be better off with a more prepared mother who knew quite what she was doing.

Well, here we stood at the threshold of The Light at The End of the Tunnel. I flashed instantly to my son’s face earlier. He was dressed impeccably, educated well and off to a fantastic college and year abroad. I had done well, despite my tremendous “ineptitude” and lack of proper Batman lunch box lunches or perfectly organized binders way back when. I had survived a multitude of motherly screw ups and forgotten trip school t-shirts. Yet, I had somehow churned out a kid who knew what he was doing for himself despite his (or because) of his mother.

The doors to the auditorium opened as I pulled out my papers marked “Kutliroff Family’ as seat markers. A Pro Mom said, “Oh, great idea! I wish I had thought of that to save seats!!”

Finally, as I took my first few front row seats, I had arrived.

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