There is something to be said for people who know your history, especially people who you have raised your kids with. It’s a bond, a connection, a union that reminds you of a time in your life when were exhausted, busy, and worn-down. A time in your life where you rushed from work to baseball practices, birthday parties and school performances. A stage where you had no time for yourself, helped with carpool and homework and packed lunches every night before you went to bed. And as draining and dog-tired as you were, you would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Having your child graduate high school often means an end of an era. It’s an end to PTA meetings, sitting in bleachers at sporting events, and volunteering at whatever extracurricular activity they participate in. It’s an end to snack bars and school dances. Leaving high school signals the end of childhood and the launch into adulthood. When that end happens, it often leaves parents feeling a loss, not only for our child but for their friend’s parents as well.
This week I gathered with my Box-Moms, a group of strong, funny, loving women who raised our now 20-year old sons together. There are seven of us: seven moms of young men off at college doing their thing. We could not be prouder, not only of our son but of all seven. We take pride in who they are, what they are doing and where they are headed.
It’s amazing that these seven boys all started kindergarten together and here we are, fifteen years later, sending care packages stuffed with disinfecting wipes, sunflower seeds, cookies, and coffee cake as a reminder that we love them, and we miss them. On every box we send, we pen a little note to each boy so when they open it not only do they receive goodies, but they also receive messages of encouragement from the moms who raised them. The best part: when they receive their care packages, they reply on our group text so we, in return, get a little note back from each of them. It’s a win-win. Yes, it’s for the kids (wink wink) but to be honest, it’s really for the moms.
Gathering with women who knew your son before he shaved is priceless. We know the men they are now but more importantly we know the little boys they once were. We know the toothless grins, the skinned knees, and the messy hair that never saw a brush. We know the days when they lived for recess and another game of touch football or kickball. We know the (un)talent shows they performed at, the field trips we chaperoned and the afterschool games of wiffleball that never seemed to end. We know the little boys who thought girls were gross, pulled silly pranks and laughed at each other when they got caught talking in class. We know the sports injuries, bike accidents, and battle wounds they endured. We know the moments they hurt and the moments they triumphed. We know their similarities, their differences, and their challenges. Most of all, we know their hearts.
As expected, the boys went different ways in high school but continued to call each other “day-ones”. The bond created in kindergarten is a hard one to break. They made new friends, developed new groups, and found new interests but always considered each other friends. While they no longer rode around like boys from the Sandlot, they knew that if push came to shove, they would be there for each other without question. History will do that to you.
The wonderful thing is that through all the years and the changes, the moms remained friends as well. Sure, we evolved and have other friendships and different social circles, but we still hold on to the memories and moments that link us. And like our boys, I know there are 6 women I can count on—without question–to be there if I needed anything. When we gather, it’s like being with cousins. We draw strength and we find safety. There is laughter, honesty, tears, and validation. There is catching up, filling in and connecting. We laugh at our husbands, complain about our “maturing” bodies and talk about our aging parents. While we know none of our boys are perfect, we know that in each of our eyes, our sons are precious—regardless of their flaws.
Being with the Box-Mom’s is like entering a time capsule. I don’t see the wrinkles or the added weight they point out—I see the amazing ladies I love and the women who helped me turn my little boy into a man. I see the moms who fed my son, bandaged his boo-boo’s, hugged him when he cried and loved him the way I would. I see the women who are part of my journey of motherhood and make up my son’s “his-story”. I see women that will be at my son’s wedding one day not because they are my friends, but because he loves them as well. I see strong women who I appreciate, respect, value, and treasure. I see women I am tied to forever.
Change is part of life and time marches on. But the people who you walk childhood with often remain unforgettable. While you may not talk with them often, there is an unspoken message that connects you forever. Being with the Box-Moms allows me to remember a time in my life that is sacred, priceless, and happened all too fast. While these seven college students are grown and flown and adults to the world, they will always be little boys who have left fingerprints and smudges all over my heart.