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Stuff 'N Nonsense A Few Words...
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The school year is winding down. My teenage boys are moving into their junior and sophomore years respectively and my daughter is moving onto kindergarten.

It's hard not to sit back and reflect when everything has gone by in such a blur. This past year my oldest son traveled to New York with his drama club and collected priceless memories to treasure forever; my youngest son played three sports and earned his block "O;" my daughter's speech has improved immeasurably and her self-esteem is soaring.

Like most parents, I'm inordinately proud of my kids and their accomplishments. It struck me the other day that my two sons are creeping ever closer to that day when I have to let them loose out in the world as they head college-bound. Am I a bad mom for wanting to hold onto them just a bit longer? Even as I gripe about the food they seem to inhale and the clothes they never seem to make last beyond a few months, I can't fathom my house without their noisy presence. I can't imagine not knowing what's going on in their lives. I can't imagine not seeing them everyday. This is a heartbreak I know is coming and there's no avoiding. For some of my friends with graduating seniors, they're already feeling the pain of goodbye. Even if it's a joyful goodbye, it still hurts. I never understood my mother's reluctance to set me free, on my own, until now. I was impatient to experience life, eager to get out there and be my own boss. I didn't know that being on your own comes with risk, even danger. I came away with wisdom but not without cost. I would do anything to keep my kids from harm, but I know some lessons have to be experienced to learn and I can only pray they manage to gain the knowledge without significant damage.

We don't know what's in store for our children. We hope for the best and leave the rest in fate's hands. When I crane my neck to look at my sons (they're both taller than their parents at this point) I can't help but see the little boys they once were. Is this something all parents do, no matter the age of their children? It seems time went by very quickly. I can still remember quite clearly my youngest son playing soccer for the first time, walking off the field because he was thirsty. He turned out to be my "sporty" kid, although he finally traded soccer for football as he grew. Now he plays football, basketball and swims. I can remember the way my oldest son looked the first time he was hospitalized for asthma complications. I remember every struggle, every meeting, every milestone and I can only hope the road evens out for the boy who has already been through so much in his young life.

And just as my sons are gearing up for their teenage years in earnest, which entails summer jobs, driver's licenses, and Letterman's jackets, my daughter is just beginning her journey.

So, even though I don't have a graduating senior this year, my heart goes out to the parents who do. There are plenty of things I could say to the excited, soon-to-be young adults graduating in a few days but really, it's nothing that hasn't been said already. My words are for the parents who have willingly sacrificed their own wants and needs to see their children reach this terrific milestone:

Take the time to pat yourself on the back. Enjoy your accomplishment for it isn't easy to raise children in today's environment. Be proud. You've earned it.

Kim Van Meter is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.