gratidue-a-thon day 2046: when the baby graduates

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I thought I would be all emotional and ugly cry when my son graduated from college, but I felt nothing but relief, elation, and a boatload of gratitude. While I might have sobbed my way through his entire senior year of high school, wiped out by thoughts of his upcoming departure to the coast across the country, my mascara stayed put last week when he walked across the stage and off of it with a diploma in his hands and a gargantuan smile on his face.

Sending your kid to college is challenging. There are a multitude of reasons, but one of the primary reasons is that you have to try and understand just exactly how a tiny little fetus on that thin ultrasound paper became a full-fledged, 3-D, real-life baby, then a (destructive) and adorable toddler, an elementary school chatterbox and finally a high school kid with his own mind. This part is impossible to comprehend. I don’t believe we’re equipped to understand time, or at least, I’m not. And so it isn’t unusual to find me sitting with a dumb look on my face, gazing into space and pondering where those smaller versions of my son could possibly have gone. Like is that little boy with the big eyes running around Italy or Sweden? How could he have just disappeared?

Jake is staying on the West Coast for now. My parents were super cool about giving me and my two sisters wings, and telling us we could go anywhere we wanted, but that we always had a home. This gave the three of us a lot of guilt-free freedom (well, I think we always felt guilty, but not guilty enough to go back and live in our small town). My husband and I have given our kids the same free reign. But I’m not going to tell you it’s easy. I miss that damn kid every day.

I have deep and complex emotions about Jake graduating. College so far from us had some major bumps. He didn’t learn the things I thought he’d learn, but instead a whole bunch of other things I’d never considered. He is forging his own path. This is what kids do. They will not learn from your hard-won mistakes, they will make their own and hope they can help someone else, but they cannot because for some reason, this is how the damn thing works!

I am still processing all I feel about my son becoming a college graduate and taking another step toward adulthood. But what I do know for absolute sure is that I am so damn grateful for my boy, and I celebrate this event with scads and scads of pride, love and hope.

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