Every year it comes up and surprises me with a flurry of transitions and celebrations. I expect it from December, since the stores and our holiday calendars take October and November to prepare for it. But for some reason, I forget about all of the changes that happen in the four weeks of May. I inevitably tear up or break down in a full ugly cry when a sentimental song comes on the radio in late spring. Then I remember “Oh, it’s just May.”
As a teacher, some of this emotion is because I truly enjoy the students in my classroom, and I know I will miss seeing them in the mornings. But the biggest tear-jerker for me is knowing that my two sons are finishing their own school years, and they will move on to the next grade. Sometimes it has been sadness that they wouldn’t have the same teacher next year, since we have had such good experiences with their teachers. It is saying good-bye to the familiar routine of the school year and venturing into a new chapter of growing and changing.
During those particular Mays, when good friends or family members are graduating from high school or college, there is another aspect of emotion. It is watching the graduates and their families go through the big transition of choosing a new school, moving, or a vocation.
All of this together marks the changing of seasons. It pulls at my heart as a mother knowing that my boys are finished with one set of experiences, and we are preparing for another. Some years there are even tears of relief just knowing that we have successfully ventured through the challenges of that year. May reminds me of the essence of motherhood. It is walking with your child through every season and realizing the ways that they need you in each stage, as well as how they are learning to be more independent. It is holding hands, letting go, and being there to hold their hand again.
Some of my favorite days of the year are in the last week of May. This is when the school year is over, but the summer activities haven’t started yet. We are recovering from the end of school with trips to the park, playing with friends, and visiting grandparents. And in these days, I remember to stop and spend more time looking into my children’s eyes. These days remind me to enjoy them in exactly the stage where they are. I can be sad that one stage is over, as well as look forward to the next, but May reminds me to enjoy them in whatever stage they are in right now. It reminds me to blow bubbles with them in the backyard, to let them run in the sprinkler, and that ice cream with hot fudge is a great afternoon snack. And I see it in their eyes too. I see the joy of having time to sleep a little later. I see them relax as our family is less rushed with fewer activities than during the school year. This is precious time, and I want to soak it up in lazy mornings and sunny afternoons.
At the end of May is the beautiful sweetness of summer. I love the freedom that comes with trying new things, going on trips, and spending afternoons with my boys at the pool or putting a puzzle together at the kitchen table. I know there will be days when my boys are arguing, or when I’m trying to make childcare arrangements, but it is all worth it. Summer has its own magic, and I welcome it. I will cry a few tears in May, but in the end, it brings me back to gratitude for who my children are right now.