Every year it’s the same thing. The first day of school rolls around and social media is filled with bittersweet photos of children growing up and starting their first days of the “important” years: Kindergarten, First Grade, First day of middle school. This year started my son’s journey into high school. And it was not even a little bittersweet for me. There were no tears. There were no sighs of “it all happened so fast.” When I dropped him off, I was relieved. I celebrated inside because of the person he has grown into. I don’t worry that he will start high school and turn into someone that I don’t know. He is smart. He is funny. He has a good heart. He’s kind. He’s charming. He may be a little full of himself, but I’d rather that than not full enough. He’s always smiling. He’s patient. He’s understanding. He’s empathetic. He’s sympathetic. Basically, he’s just an all around good person. He walked into high school confident and excited to start this new adventure. I couldn’t be sad. It was a huge relief knowing that, somehow, in all the chaos that has been his life, he is doing just fine. I question myself about almost every single thing in my life. The one thing, though, that I have never questioned myself about was my ability to raise my children. Sure, I’ve been mostly non-traditional. And sure, I let my kids watch and see and do and say things that other parents would shudder at, but I know that I raised damn good kids. I raised kids who can think for themselves and have opinions that are all their own even if I don’t agree with them. At this point, I don’t feel like there is any more I can do besides just being there and supporting them. My high new high school student is my youngest child. He’s the last one living at home. He’s the baby. The spoiled one. I truly believe that by this age, everything that is going to be instilled in him by me is already there. I can send him out into the world knowing that most of the time, he is going to make the right decisions. Of course, he will still do stupid things like posting a picture of himself and his friends looking like a juvenile version of Al Qaeda (that’s a blog for another day), and I know if high school turns out to be a replica of middle school, I will be battling him every morning to get his butt out of bed, but I don’t worry that, when he is faced with a tough decision, a decision between right and wrong, that could ultimately change his life, that he will not make the right choice. I am confident that he will. As he walked into school, I celebrated, because I know that he is strong enough to stand up to peer pressure. I know that he is brave enough to stand up for other people. I know that he is confident enough to stand up for himself. Yes, time did fly to get us where we are. Yes, it does seem like just yesterday that he was three feet tall jumping off a big yellow bus and running home to catch snakes outside. Yes, in 4 short years he will make the choice of which college he will go to and which state he will move to and we will hug and we will say goodbye, but I know, like my other two who have already flown away to live their lives, he will always know that he is loved. He will always know that the door is open for him. He will always know that he can call me for anything. He will always know that I will listen. He will know that even though he wasn’t raised like most kids, he was raised well, knowing the importance and value of family, friendship, and doing what is right even when it feels so hard to do it. So, no, today was not a bittersweet moment for me. Today was an awakening that my child walked into his first day of high school with all the necessary supplies to get him through today and the rest of his life and none of them can fit into a backpack.