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I Have Only One More Year And I’m Not Sure How I’ll Ever Let You Go

It's the last stretch of the road on our journey together. How could this be?

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Jade Schulz
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Here you are, starting your senior year of high school, and I'm having trouble reconciling all the conflicting feelings I have about this that, at times, consume me. I’m struck with the incessant dichotomy of parenting that comes with each new age and each new stage with raising our kids. We simultaneously feel the whirl of joy in a new year and the weight of sadness that another one has passed. But this milestone — this age and stage and phase of parenting — is the one that hits me the hardest. It’s the one that scares me the most, the one that clenches my heart so tight that sometimes I can barely breathe.

Images of your childhood flood my mind more and more these days as I grapple with the mystery of time, wondering how it magically moves us forward so quickly and our lives unfold with its powerful push. Details of this transformation flood my thoughts unpredictably, bringing snapshots of your baby years and toddler years, your preschool years and grade school years, your middle school years and high school years — and all the millions of precious moments that led up to this day. Overwhelming emotions pour out in tears as I try to sort through my joy and sadness, fear and excitement for this season of your life that we’ve entered too soon, too fast.

This is the final hour of parenting, the last stretch of the road on our journey together. How could this be? I am facing the hard truth of what this really means: I have only one more year with you.

I have only one more year to see you come downstairs every morning, greeting me with a tired smile and soft hello, while you make your coffee and breakfast, creating a mess as you go. One more year to ask you what your plans are for the day as we talk about what excites you, what bores you, and what’s hard for you, too. Just one more year to offer my daily prayers, my daily advice or my daily reminders on those days you struggle to handle the load you bear. I have only one more year to watch you walk out the door while I tell you to be safe and check in when you can. I have only one more year to start our days off together.

I have only one more year to expect your return every day as I welcome you home. Just one more year to ask how your day was and listen to every detail you share, feeling so grateful you choose to share them with me. One more year to look into your eyes and find the truth when words can’t reveal it. One more year to see for myself how you really are doing. One more year to talk you through hard decisions you need to make, or comfort you through difficult things you’ve had to endure.

I have only one more year of asking where you’re going and when you’ll be home. One more year of making your favorite meals and telling you to clean your room. Just one more year of watching you go up to bed to sleep, knowing you are safe and sound in our home. Only one more year of you asking me how you look, if I like the new shirt you’re wearing and if I could braid your hair. One more year of hugging you any time I want and watching our favorite shows together for hours on end, when we need a long break from life’s stressful days. Just one more year where you’ll pass the time meandering around the house looking for something to do.

I have only one more year for you to participate in all our regular family game nights, family dinners, family celebrations, family anything that requires your presence to make us feel complete. I can’t imagine how our family moments spent together will be missing one of the pieces that make us whole. I can’t quite picture anything without you here with us. This home, our lives, this family … all of it will be so very different when you’re gone. I’m not sure if I can fully understand the enormity of such a loss as it already breaks my heart in a million different ways trying to imagine what life will be like without you.

I have only one more year before the world tells me you’re grown and you can do life on your own. Just one more year for me to fill out forms and give consent to all you want to do and document that you are mine and I am yours as I sign on dotted lines. I have only one more year to be the parent of a child who still needs me.

I have only one more year to be your caretaker and rule-maker, your limit-setter and dream catcher. I have only one more year to walk by your side and tell you each day all the things I adore about you, all the ways you make me proud, all the beauty I see inside you, and how this world is gifted by you being in it. I have only one more year to tell you how special you really are and how much I believe in all you can do.

I have only one more year to teach you what I can and equip you with all you need to live life on your own. I’m running out of time, you see. Because I have only one more year to hold you tight and sleep at night, knowing you are right here with me.

I have only one more year with you, and I’m just not sure how I will ever let you go.