Tomorrow my youngest graduates from high school.
A few weeks ago, I read an interview with Lesa France Kennedy. Ms. Kennedy is the NASCAR vice chairperson and International Speedway Corporation CEO and is a widow. In this interview, she was asked how she “handled putting (her) life back together” after her husband died in a plane crash. She said something that sounded familiar to me, “Really, well, Ben was 15, so we focused on school. And then, as a mother, you can’t afford to take time out.”
Now my youngest’s name is not Ben, but she was 15 when her father died suddenly. When my husband died, I worried about my health, my mortality. What if something happened to me? What if my children became orphans? I carefully thought about their life situations: one married and almost done with college, and one in 10th grade. While I worried about both my children, I really focused on my 10th grader and her education. I threw my mental, spiritual and emotional energy into her completing school.
Did I have hobbies? No. Did I take time for myself? Sometimes. Did I work on my own mental health? Yes. I felt I couldn’t take time out because foremost in my mind was my daughter and what she was experiencing. In the course of the week her father was ill and died, her entire life perspective changed and her world imploded. As the terms passed, she experienced health problems that affected her ability to attend and participate in school. I tried all I could to help her, but also knew her health situation was beyond just what I could do. I tried my best to support her as she healed. I relied on the amazing teachers, counselors and administration at her school as we worked as a team to support my daughter. I will be forever grateful to them.
This fall, my now 18 year old will launch into the world of a nearby university, living on campus, learning amazing things and enjoying life. I spent so much energy supporting her as she completed high school, I find myself wondering what I am going to do now? I will still be there to support her, but she is an adult now and is in a much better health situation than she was a couple of years ago.
So tomorrow as my daughter walks across the stage to receive her diploma, I will be the one cheering loudly and wondering, “What do I do now?” Stay tuned, I am sure I will find answers, and I suspect some of those answers will have something to do with becoming a grandma. . .