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Two Decades of Kids and Counting

By Sally Torbey

About this blog: About this blog: I have enjoyed parenting five children in Palo Alto for the past two decades and have opinions about everything to do with parenting kids (and dogs). The goal of my blog is to share the good times and discuss the ...  (More)

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Savoring this year's "lasts"

Uploaded: Dec 1, 2013
With a son graduating from high school and our youngest graduating from elementary school, this is a school year of many "lasts" for us. We will soon be sending another child off to college and leaving an elementary school community we have been a part of for 18 years.

When the kids are younger we recognize the "lasts" only after the fact. We do not remember exactly when they last held our hands, or rode their scooters, or slid down the playground slide, or crept into bed with us. Only later do we realize it won't occur again. In contrast, we can savor the last cheer for the high school team, the last elementary school fair, and the last birthday they spend at home.

Having older kids who have already left makes this round of "lasts" a little easier. When our eldest graduated from high school, we tried to be excited and join the celebratory mood. We gathered the relatives and hosted a party, but we were just going through the motions. Inside we were grieving, it was difficult to celebrate the graduation as it meant our son was leaving. As each one leaves, our family feels like a game board with another missing piece. But after a period of adjustment, it becomes the new normal. The younger siblings miss the older ones, but family dynamics reshuffle, and new opportunities and roles become available to each of them. And, even though the older two are physically absent, the emotional ties persist undiminished.

There is great joy in seeing our older two make their way in the wider world, living places we have never been, doing things we have never done, and learning things we know nothing about. Our world expands through them.

We try to focus on all the wonderful possibilities that are to come, while relishing these "lasts".
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Mom of 2, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Dec 1, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Another beautiful piece Sally. I'm thankful for every stage of the journey

Posted by Mother of Three, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Dec 2, 2013 at 6:57 am

I often have that thought Sally! My three kids are 8, 10 and 12 - and I often have a little heartbreak when it occurs to me when there is a moment with them that might be the "last time" for that memory. But I feel comfort hearing your stories of the road ahead in parenting. Still many memories to savor. Thank you for your wise words.

Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Dec 2, 2013 at 7:58 am

Some of the "lasts" are worth celebrating. The last time you buy a box of diapers at Costco, the last time you have to juggle classrooms at back to school night, the last time you have to deal with 3 different back to school nights, the last time you have to try and get all kids to the dentist for a checkup on the same afternoon, are ones that come to mind. I'm sure there are others too.

Posted by MemberMomOfThree, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Dec 2, 2013 at 8:22 am

It's a big year for us too - son graduating from high school, and our baby entering high school next year. Each stage is an experience; with of course challenges but also great things to look back on and treasure. Thanks for the nice reminder

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Dec 2, 2013 at 10:25 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Dear Mom of 2,
Thanks for reading and commenting!

Dear Mother of Three,
Yes, it is definitely different as they age, but still wonderful.

Dear Mother of 4,
Yes, back to school night felt almost like a mid-week date this year, as my husband and I were able to follow one schedule at each school and actually sit next to each other and walk together between classes (as compared to past years of dividing and conquering multiple schedules)
"Lasts" for me worth celebrating are the last ride in the last car seat, and the last time hosing down the highchair.

Dear MemberMomOfThree,
Just one back to school night for you next year!

Posted by LJ, a resident of another community,
on Dec 3, 2013 at 6:37 am

Focussing on possibilities while relishing "lasts" helps us in other realms as well. We see this more easily as we age perhaps.

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Dec 3, 2013 at 7:24 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi LJ,
Thanks for reading and commenting. Age definitely brings a different perspective.

Posted by Karen, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Dec 5, 2013 at 6:52 am

Another great post, Sally. We have a high school senior, too, and I'm also thinking about all of the "last" moments of this year.
I was feeling sad about our senior's last Halloween at home. At the same time, she started talking about what that meant-her first Halloween in college will happen next year. She looked at the calendar and realized that Halloween falls on a Friday night in 2014. Compared to this year's "last" Halloween with homework and college applications to do, she cannot wait for next year's "first" Halloween.

Posted by Sally Torbey, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Dec 5, 2013 at 7:45 am

Sally Torbey is a registered user.

Hi Karen,
Thanks for reading and commenting. Fortunately, our kids keep us focused on the future!

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