Eight months ago, we moved from Wisconsin to North Carolina due to my husband’s company relocating to Charlotte. It was a rough departure, leaving behind 17 years of memories where we raised our five children. Our youngest, Ryan, was the only one coming with us as our two oldest were out of college and gainfully employed in the Midwest, and the middle two were at college. Imagine leaving behind everything and everyone you’ve ever known, at the ripe old age of 14, and having to then start high school. Not easy.

    Fast forward eight months …

    I was just driving Ryan to school as he rehearsed his Spanish presentation in the car and I find myself trying to balance my perception of what is important for him. I get frustrated when he doesn’t pull the grades he is capable of or waits until the last minute to study. Yet when I dropped him off at the curb just now, among the throngs of students, it was the first time since Ryan started high school here that I witnessed a fellow student greet him with obvious and genuine excitement to see my son. They walked into the building laughing, together. Suddenly, what Ryan gets on his Spanish presentation today doesn’t mean so much to me anymore. Ryan already passed with flying colors: He’s made a new friend in class.

    “Hola. Mi nombre es Ryan. Como te llamas?”

Written by Cathy Markey, the parent of five children aged 14 to 24, is confident she now can handle most of life’s challenges, having survived an accumulated 30 years of raising teenagers (thus far) — and 17 Wisconsin winters. A firm believer in the value of learning from one another, she enjoys sharing tidbits of lessons learned along the way.

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