Is it okay not to feel sad about your child finishing school forever?

We have the dress that she loves and didn’t cost a fortune.

Make-up and hair appointments are booked.

We are hosting the pre and transport for the arrivals is sorted.

This will be the baby girl of the family’s end of high school celebration and my 10th and final formal or semi-formal.

She will look stunning, and I am thrilled for her.

A far cry from this time two years ago, when I was a dribbling mess of tears, wallowing in self-indulgent sadness about all the lasts my daughter (and by extension myself) were experiencing as the end of high school loomed.

Now with the youngest of my five daughters about to slam shut the last lunchbox lid on school, I am curiously nowhere near as distraught.


And I don’t know why?

This is what I penned only a few short years ago as tears streamed down my face:

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I brushed her short brown hair, helped her tie her shoe laces (two bows and twist), packed a lunchbox of vegemite sandwiches, plonked an over-sized hat on her head and waved good bye to that adorable little five year old on her first day at school.
She was so excited to be a ‘big girl’ that neither of us had first day tears. Not like the ones that threaten to spill over every time I think of these last few weeks encroaching ever closer.
Back then, she raced off and happily started school and began the rush to finish it.

Read the full story here:

P1010624I’ve read recently of others experiencing the same breathlessness of sentimentality as the weight of the inevitable end of childhood crushed them.

This just weeks ago from digital media publisher, Mia Freedman:

My son is leaving school and I’m in pieces. Nobody warned me about this. I’ve never read anything about a mother’s grief as her child becomes an adult. Is it grief though? I’m not even sure. I feel like I’ve been blindsided by tsunami of emotion and I’m being washed around and around and upside down and I can’t make sense of my reactions.

And this from my own teenage heartthrob actor, Rob Lowe.

Today is my son Matthew’s last night home before college.

I have been emotionally blindsided. I know that this is a rite many have been through, that this is nothing unique. I know that this is all good news; my son will go to a great school, something we as a family have worked hard at for many years. I know that this is his finest hour. But looking at his suitcases on his bed, his New England Patriots post­ers on the wall, and his dog watching him pack, sends me out of the room to a hidden corner where I can’t stop crying.

So this time why aren’t I?

I have emotionally marked and verbally pointed out to my baby daughter, all the milestones as they pass, and my pride in all her achievements is enormous, so don’t get me wrong there is a rush of nostalgia, but it’s not reducing me to a wreck.

Maybe it’s because I have experienced and survived these lasts four times before?


Lasts like:

last time wearing a winter school blazer

last exam

last formal (Yes as mentioned, we have had 10 semi-formals and formals in our house)

last game of school sport

last schoolies

last uniform hand-me-down

last excursion

last assignment

last report card

last parent teacher interview and of course

last instalment of school fees EVER!

Instead of sobbing, I am almost sighing with relief.

Is it because I am exhausted from the content deja vu of finality?

Am I bored with the repetition of all these lasts?

I can’t understand why seeing one daughter wearing the uniform for the last time was gut-wrenching only a couple of years ago, yet my stomach is very settled this go around.

But it’s not any of that. (Although I do concede after five lots of school fees and all the other add-ons, this is possibly a factor)

More importantly, I’ve concluded that pride and excitement has surpassed sorrow and self-absorbed reflection.

With the lasts of my last daughter, I am also simultaneously starting to experience at the same time, the first of many firsts.

Here’s a small snapshot of the fresh milestones being laid by my daughters.

  • The youngest and the daughter about to depart school, got her first job, first pay cheque and excitedly came home with the contents of her first fashion-buying frenzy that she paid for herself
  • The second youngest left the country to go on a five-week holiday for the first time and has even been snap-chatting me with updates
  • The middle made a decision to defer university and explore the snowfields of the world, returning in between seasons to work full-time
  • The second eldest landed her first full-time job after graduating with a degree in human resource management, started paying board, got transferred and then moved out of home
  • The eldest moved cities to live independantly for the first time

Summing up it’s been a whirlwind of novelty.

First jobs, first boyfriends, first paycheques, first time out of home, first time making some big decisions, even the first time all of them can shout me a coffee (which they have) and here’s the kicker;

The first time I really have had the house to myself!

I don’t know who first said it, but I really believe a parent’s job is to become (mostly) obsolete.

You’ll never stop being their mum or worrying about their choices, their health or their safety and I don’t mean they won’t need you for advice or want your presence, (I hope) but if they can leave behind their uniform and all you’ve got left is sentimentality, tears, memories and instagram pics by all means embrace it, BUT what it really means is you’ve done a decent job.


So to my baby girl, the last of my baby girls, my eyes are glistening with, yes a few tears but more with pride and excitement.

Not just for you, but also for me and and what new adventures lie ahead without the constant chain of school.

I can’t wait to see what firsts you will embark on and what firsts we will share together.

Your shout for coffee!

One Comment on “Is it okay not to feel sad about your child finishing school forever?

  1. Very good darling.

    Kind Regards




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