Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Curriculum Night

Attended my last high school curriculum night last week. Most parents of seniors don't go and even my son was surprised I was going. But I felt it was only appropriate to do so as it marks the end of a long, enduring journey.

During the night as I toured my son's last semester's classes and met his teachers, I heard over and over how special the high school, community, parents and students are and how honored the teachers and principal feel to be a part of the school. I've been hearing the same thing every curriculum night for the past five years. And indeed, I truly believe as well, that our community and the high school are unusually rare, special and valuable. It is the reason I have stayed in the community - so my sons would be able to remain members of this special place despite their dad's death - and that they would complete their entire pre-college education here.

Attending the night confirmed for me that the decisions I've made to stay here were the right ones for our family. Many years ago, when the boys were just starting school and a few years before my husband became ill, we considered moving to a more rural community. In fact, we were going to bid on two houses but offers had already been made on them. At that point, we made the decision to stay put, despite our longing for the rural life because of the great school system in our community. Just a year later my husband was diagnosed and I remember feeling grateful that we hadn't moved. If we had, I would still be a newcomer in the community and my parents would not have been able to watch my sons when I went to the hospital for months on end. I wound up thinking that fate had intervened and made it impossible for us to get one of the houses we wanted. That we weren't meant to move at that time because of my husband's impending illness.

So staying here was for my sons but it also became kind of a promise to my husband to stay the course and make it for the sake of our sons because it was what we had both determined was the best learning environment for them.

I did it! We all made it! This IS a special community and my sons were privileged to live here through college. I will never regret my efforts to focus on keeping them in this school district. This educational foundation will set the tone and pattern for the rest of their lives.

Over the weekend, I ran into a mom who was once a closer friend. My oldest son was in Kindergarten with her youngest son. Her family even attended my second wedding and the boys had a garage band together in middle school. Her family has moved into a rental after losing their home so we talked a bit about that and I told her about my desire to move. Then I asked her about her son. He is not in college, worked a seasonal job at Target but is not employed now although he has a few band gigs. Her daughter, a few years older, works at a retail store but isn't in college.

Now I know kids bloom at different points and that college is not for everyone. But I called my oldest son immediately after chatting with this woman to tell him that I am proud of him and to thank him for being in college and doing so well. Then I came home and thanked my younger son for doing so well in school and told him I am proud of his plans for college. Perhaps my two sons represent the truest sign that the sacrifices made to remain in this community were worth it.

A lot of times on life's journey, we choose a path and hope for the best. And sometimes we don't get the satisfaction of knowing that a certain course was the best or right one for a long time. It is not to say that had we moved, my sons would have turned out to be delinquents. But after a parental death, there is so much turmoil, and fear of the unknown, it seemed only logical for me to remain in the community for the social and educational stability it offered my sons. Coming to the end of this phase and seeing that the results are so positive make it easier for me to leave this area with a lighter heart and more hope for the future. It is hard to move in the middle of a chapter and that is probably why I have been so resistant to relocate before. But now I truly have reached the end of a book with a very satisfying conclusion to the plot. And I can move on with a clear conscience, my head held up high and pride besides.


  1. Wow. What a fabulous review of the effort you have made on your sons' behalf. It is so beautifully affirming and hard won.

    A chapter closes; another begins, soon. It sounds like you will carry your sons' love with you wherever you go. As you say, 'we all made it!!'

  2. Flo - Your words are so positive and affirming. Thank you. I have to add that I have been reading your blog and find it pretty amazing. You write so intelligently and well - I have really been appreciating and relating to your posts as widow some years out and with kids almost out of the nest.

  3. Thank you for your kind words. I say the same of your writing, and I so often relate to you!

    1. It is a whole new chapter - love reading your blog, particularly about your sons. I've compared your journey with your children with mine -my younger child is in her first year of college. Older two are out of college and working for great companies. Anything can happen at any time, but for now, things are really going very well for them (and me too). Yippee!!

      Hang in there, you have done a fabulous job. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel...

  4. My children were raised and out of the house when my husband died, so I sincerely admire and respect what you have done! I hope you congratulate yourself every day, and your accomplishment will ease the pain and memory of all of those dark, difficult, and dreary days!

    You go girl, you are an inspiration to me!

  5. Nancy and Janet - Thank you so much for your lovely words! They made me feel great on a very cold winter day!

  6. Your sons both sound amazing and I'm glad you take real pride in them, as you should. And though your journey has been tough it is great to see that you have such a well-deserved sense of accomplishment. You sound happy, and I'm happy for you!


  7. I'm a younger widow and have been following your blog for awhile. While Iit's great you went to you son's school night, the fact that you used it as a platform to feel superior to other parents seems unimaginative and frankly, kind of cunt-y. How come YOU get to work at Target or somewhere similar - not doing the things that would provide your children with a better standard of living (after many years of widowhood) - but your "friend's" children who choose a more alternative path than your own, get dismissed to the point where you have to call your college age son to tell him how glad you are that he is so "traditional".

    Please try to think about how you're presenting yourself to the world. Don't be so unkind about things you know little about. Or maybe, in your case, too much about.

  8. Last Anonymous - I have never put myself on a platform of superiority. I called and spoke with my sons with pride that they made it through some rough patches successfully. For our family that does mean college and higher education.

    There are numerous men and women my age (middle-aged) having trouble out there finding adequate work to match either their education or experience level. I have continued to apply at other positions (on Friday I applied at a nearby gas station for added hours). At this point, I will be moving in a few months and am concentration on that process.

    ARB - Thank you for your nice words!