Tag Archives: graduation

The End of an Era

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Last week it all ended. High school is a thing of the past for The Girl. In a mercifully concise 1 hour & 26 minute ceremony, she & 315 of her closest friends walked across a stage set up on the school football field & accepted their proverbial “Get Out of Jail Free” cards.

The week leading up to that day was a flurry of prom, visitors & enough family togetherness to last me until The Boy’s graduation in three years.

And then it was over. And all was quiet.

The Boy still has a couple of weeks to finish up his freshman year & I will admit it’s strange to get him out the door on his own although it was just a year ago that they were in separate schools with different start times. But memory fades & it seems like they have always made that 7 am walk to the bus together.

It was bittersweet for The Girl. While she was happy to have made it, tears were shed on the way home. “I’ll miss everyone,” she said simply.

And now she’s on to new things. She’ll still be at home. She’s not entirely sure what path she’s heading down, so she’s opted to attend the local community college (my bank account thanks her). She also signed up for a summer EMT course which surprised (and impressed!) all of us.

Meanwhile, I follow a page on Facebook catering to the parents of teenagers – particularly those who are moving on to new ventures. I have read post after post about the sadness that comes when your kids start moving on with their lives & away from yours.

Only I’m not sad.

Isn’t this what we’ve worked for? Wasn’t this our goal? To raise our kids so that they could stand on their own. For their entire lives, The Kids have heard me say that my job is to make sure they are able to live on their own. And while their laundry & cooking skills could still use some honing, they’re getting there. More & more they are independent of me. As The Girl works on getting her drivers license at the same time she’s getting her EMT license, The Boy spends time out with friends. Which leaves me time to do the things I want.

We still connect during the week. There are still dinners & game nights & movie nights & honestly, I’m still surprised every time I suggest doing something & they say yes. But do I expect them to always be available to hang out with me? Absolutely not.

This was my goal. This is what my parenting was about. To get them to a point where they can be their own person.

I remember a parent/teacher conference with The Girl’s History teacher in her freshman year. As we waited in line to see this particular teacher, there was a form we were supposed to fill out about our child. The first question was “Do you check your child’s homework every night?” I wrote, “No” (probably in Burt’s Bees “Hibiscus” colored lip balm because I can never find a pen). When it was our turn to talk to the teacher, she noted my answer.

“So you don’t check her homework?” she asked, one eyebrow raised askance.

“I do not. She is 15 years old. She’s perfectly capable of knowing what her assignments are & getting them done,” was my reply, slightly appalled that this was even a question at the high school level. When she’s 30, am I supposed to call & ask if she did the work her boss gave her? Am I supposed to ask if she’s paid her bills or fed her pets or put gas in her car?

I love my kids. I want the best for them. But I also want the best for my life. And I have plans for my future as well. Does that make me a bad mom? Maybe. Do I care? Not in the least.

When I had them, it was with the understanding that I would do everything in my power to keep them safe. And it was with the understanding that I would love them unconditionally.

But it was also with the understanding that they would someday be their own person. That they would be on their own & lead their own lives & not be present in my life every day.

“Oh, they’ll always need their moms,” say some.

Maybe. But it’s okay if they don’t.

It means I’ve done my job.

Lou Graduates

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It’s Been a Minute

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It’s been a minute & I officially now have two high school students. In less than three months, The Girl will graduate high school. Soon after that, The Boy will finish his freshman year.

A few years ago I ruminated on The Girl ending her middle school career (To My Daughter as She Finishes Middle School).

Middle school was very different for The Boy. Other than one “spawn of Satan” as The Boy refers to him (I’m looking at you Jack Toohey), my kids had very different middle school experiences. The Girl struggled through it while The Boy seemed to sail – other than his math grades. Case in point: Their texts from their 8th grade class trip to Washington, DC…

The Girl’s: “Can you come get me?”

The Boy’s: “This place is pretty cool. And some girl broke her knee on the Potomac River cruise so we’re all waiting for the ambulance.”

My cocky, sassy, full of spunk (I hate spunk) boy has turned into this amazing young man who is now cast as Narcissus in a new musical written by one of his music teachers. He’s learned to play drums & piano & has a group of friends who are straight up amazing kids. They all congregate at the library for old school Dungeons & Dragons. And when they have to be at their own homes, they’re usually on line together playing TF2 or Fortnite (or as I unfortunately called it, “Frontline.” I may be turning into my mother).

And they’re TEENAGERS. With a capital TEENAGERS. They have opinions & they’re finding their own voice.

And it’s the best.

A coworker is struggling with her two year old… or twouchebag as I recently heard it referred to. And I remember those days. This particular coworker has one just like The Boy who pushed buttons that I didn’t know existed. I just keep nodding & telling her that it gets better. But much like when the doctors used to get annoyed with me worrying about potty training (“No kid has ever gone to college in diapers!” Bitch, please…. I’m trying to get through preschool!) I’m sure she can’t even see that place right now.

But I can.

And my first born is almost grown & flown.

The Girl isn’t sure what she wants to do when she graduates. Maybe biology. Maybe marine biology. Maybe forensics. Maybe chemistry.

So she’s charted a course for community college to help her figure it out. In my panic, I watched other parents post on Facebook about their kids’ college applications. I made her apply in November only to receive a post card in the mail from the local community college that may as well have said, “Slow your roll. We’re working on the January term. We’ll get back to you about next fall.” And here I was all prepared with my FAFSA.

It’s not the road I thought she would choose. Her focus at the technical high school was graphics. But according to her, she loves art & doesn’t want to do it for a living or she would hate it (sort of how I felt about working at Target). That’s pretty mature. I also expected her to choose a small, private, four year college. We toured a couple… okay, one… and I thought it would be a good fit for her. But she is my level-headed one. She knows enough to know that she doesn’t really know what she wants. You know?

I guess my point is that every kid finds their way eventually. I watch my friends post about their kids’ college acceptance letters & cheer them on. And I know that they’re cheering on The Girl as she embarks on her path to figure out what she wants.

The Boy recently had to choose his shop at the same tech high school that The Girl is graduating from. He chose Medical Assisting. And much like his sister, it’s not the road I thought he would choose. But he’s got three more years to figure it out before graduation.

And at the risk of sounding cliche’, it’s not the destination. It’s the journey.

And this is a great journey.

Stay tuned. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

 

To My Daughter as She Finishes Middle School

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Dear Lou:

Tomorrow you will finish your middle school career. Eighth grade graduation. You will walk across the stage – or the gym floor in this case – and be done with this chapter of your life. In a few months you will start high school & I want to tell you how proud I am of you. Not because you finished eighth grade. Look around you. All of your friends just did the same thing. In fact, 99% of the people over the age of 14 in this country have accomplished the exact same thing.

No. I’m proud of you for how you accomplished it.

It’s been a long road. A few weeks ago, I watched as friends of mine posted pictures of the eighth grade graduation from the school you used to attend. I’m still friends with some of the parents & it was amazing seeing the pictures of all of the kids you knew – the ONLY kids you knew from the time you started pre-school. It was bittersweet. I loved seeing the pictures. All of your former classmates looked so grown up & I was so proud of them. But at the same time, I wished you could have been there with them. I wished your family had turned out differently & that you could have graduated with Emily & Lynnea & Sean & Nicky & even the other Nicky.

But sometimes life takes you in other directions. Sometimes your parents get divorced & you have to move to a school where you don’t know anyone & your mom gets diagnosed with breast cancer & things just suck. (see MomDay Monday – Cue Alice Cooper ) But sometimes those things that suck make you stronger & bring out things in you that you never knew were there, waiting to be discovered.

Because you felt alone, you withdrew into that laptop that you earned, honed your drawing skills & now have almost 500 followers on Instagram who love your art.

Sometimes it's a little dark, but it's what makes you, you.

Sometimes it’s a little dark, but it’s what makes you, you.

Because you hated track when you tried it, you started swimming & have what your coach calls “a natural ability.” You kicked ass at your first few meets & I heard the word “Olympics” come out of your mouth the other day. Go for it. I’ll be behind you every step of the way.

Her arm says, "First Meet." She won her first heat, too.

Her arm says, “First Meet.” She won her first heat, too.

Because you saw bullying in your new school – which is admittedly “rougher” than your previous private school – you learned to stand up for others. I’ve watched your social media & seen you speak out against bullying, champion suicide prevention & raise your voice in support of your LGBT friends.

Because you are you, you’ve met some incredible friends on this journey. So today, instead of graduating with Emily & Lynnea & Sean & Nicky & the other Nicky, you are graduating with Lilly & Shania & Raymond & Julie & Andrew & a huge group of people you never would have met if you hadn’t come to the school you are now leaving.

Photo Booth

And just when I was feeling sad that you weren’t graduating eighth grade with your original group of friends, you said to me, “You know, mom… if I hadn’t changed schools, I don’t think I’d be doing any of the things I’m doing now. And I know I wouldn’t have met any of the friends I have now.” I nodded & smiled & agreed with you. Then I went upstairs to my bedroom & sobbed.

It’s been a long road. But you have persevered. You have endured. And for that, I am proud of you.

Because you are you, you love this song. And I totally get it. Keep your head up. Nothing lasts forever.