My view of the world through words & photos
He graduated from high school.
OK – so he’s not really my “baby boy” any more. The truth is that he hasn’t been my baby boy in any sense of the word physically for a long time. But I’ve already told him (more times than he’d like) that he will always be my baby boy. The same way that his sister will always be my baby girl. I have promised them that I won’t say it in public anymore, but I reserve the right to say it in private.
Back to the milestone.
Graduation Day brought relatives in from out of state as well as a gathering of local family and friends. We started with a parent/son breakfast at a local hotel. While the event was very nice, I didn’t have the feeling of “this is a very important day.” Possibly because in many ways the event was much like several others I had attended during the past four years with these same parents and sons. (All wonderful people whom I’m blessed to know.) It may not have given me that special feeling since I was still working on how I was going to accomplish everything that day…pick up an uncle at the airport, get back and forth from the others planned activities, coordinating desired photos and finalizing plans for the end of the day.
The rest of the day sped by as I checked things off my To Do list. It would have been a good idea to recheck my list before my son and I went to the graduation site, leaving the rest of the family to finish their dinner and join us later. If I had checked my list I would have remembered to leave them the tickets they were going to need to get into the graduation site. I would have also remembered that we had discussed bringing one more person with us so one could stay with the saved seats and the other could move about if necessary. Realizing at the site that I had all the tickets with me and that I didn’t have anyone to watch the seats while I handed the tickets over the head of the ticket takers to my family outside the venue did not add to my feeling of “we’re here to celebrate a major milestone.”
Finally, the music marking the beginning of the celebration started. Nice but no warm, fuzzy feelings.
Then, the boys started walking in. Scratch that. The young men started walking in. Two by two they entered the church. They ranged in height, facial expressions, and reactions to a church full of family and friends. The only consistent thing I started to see in each of their faces was the look of anticipation.
With a last name beginning with R, I was able to see most of my son’s close friends before I finally saw him.
Then it hit me.
This was real.
He was graduating.
My little boy had truly become a young man, ready to face the world on his own (with some ongoing help from his family). The tears welled up in my eyes but I willed them not to fall. I didn’t want him to see me crying because I didn’t want to get that look from him. That look that says, “Mom, this isn’t a sad time. Stop crying, be happy for me.” Of course that look doesn’t say, “Mom, I can’t believe you’re crying” since he’s seen me cry so many times before this moment.
[I cry when I see one of those Hallmark Hall of Fame movies (and the commercials Hallmark highlights during the movie). I cry when we leave my parents house after a vacation with them because I know how much I will miss them when we get home. I cry when I hear bad news about good people, and great news about terrific people. My name is Kathy and I’m a cryer. I accept it, and my family has learned to accept it too – for the most part.]
So I took a deep breath and showed him a face full of love, excitement and joy. And I realized I did the same thing 13 years earlier. When his kindergarten class “graduated.” All those small ones entered the elementary school gym with paper mortarboards adorned with yarn tassels. Their look at age 5 and 6 was a mixture of excitement and fear as opposed to their look at age 17 and 18. Today, their look was full of more confidence and happiness.
They now know that what is about to happen is important but life changing events aren’t typically the choreographed ones they are participating in right now. They know that mom and dad will still love them if they don’t walk in just as the teacher instructed. They know that their individuality is important and sets them apart from the other 200-plus teens in the same colored gown and hat.
In other words, they have reached the first step in becoming the adults we have been hoping for ever since we saw them for the first time. It doesn’t matter if we saw them right after we gave birth to them, or after someone else gave birth to them, or after they entered our lives at any age between birth and high school graduation. Whenever we first saw them, we started forming our hopes and dreams and plans for their future. And we started worrying if we could do a good job. And we started hearing how quickly time would pass.
And now you realize just how quickly time has passed. While you still remember that little boy, now it’s a young man walking down that aisle. While you still remember how he reached out and smashed his birthday cupcake with his tiny little fist, now he’s walking confidently in grown up shoes. While he used to believe anything and everything you told him as the perfect truth, now he debates just about everything you say and do.
Later comes sooner than you’d like to believe!