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

IMG_6916

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.

IMG_0185

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 467: the other coast

 

Tomorrow we experience a USC football game, the incredible marching band, various Phi Psi frat activities, some classes, and some sunny California. I can barely wait. Well, and of course, amidst the mayhem, we get to see Jake, which is the most fun part, and who I miss every damn day. I am grateful for air travel, I am grateful for parent’s weekend, I am grateful for Jake choosing a warm weather college. As Randy Newman put it, “I love L.A.” Fight on.

Unknown-1

gratitude-a-thon day 400: let the summer begin: the boy is coming home

After a semester in Barcelona, and a semester pledging a frat (did any real academic work get done, I guess we’ll see when the grades come out), at USC, my guy is coming home tonight! And I am so seriously thrilled to see him that I’m practically ready to throw a townwide parade. Can’t you just see the banner held by the local girl scouts: “Your mom made us hold this dumb banner, so Welcome Home, Jake, whoever you are.”

1391521_10151640120126541_41999545_n
Barcelona, first semester.

All over town, I’m seeing happy mom’s and dad’s talking about their newly minted college offspring. They, like me, are about to embark on “the first summer.” And what I mean here, is we’re about to see if Thomas Wolfe was right or wrong, when he said “You can’t go home again.” I mean, maybe it’s “You can’t go home again and drink at dinner.” These kids have spent a year partying and imbibing, not doing laundry, or taking out the garbage, curfew-less and totally independent, and now, this first summer,  they come back to their childhood rooms, and house rules. So, what should the house rules be? How do you go forward, instead of backward? How do you give them their freedom, without compromising your own sanity and sense of right, especially if you have a younger kid, watching with hawk eyes for exactly what the precedence will be?

1797521_10152221370673001_7045536031215318818_n
frat bros. at usc. phi kappa psi.
1620376_10202715449581646_769875798_n
if only “the beach” was a course you could get credit for.
1551696_10202885529956833_1356366477_n
He’s in a suit.
1798057_10152064388063137_1072796254_n
Life in Cali sucks.

I have some ideas. But it will really take a sit-down with Jake to flesh them out and come up, in a somewhat democratic way, with the “After the first year,” rules of the roost. I know he’ll have enough respect for us to follow whatever we say, but determining what that is, that’ll be the challenge.

Today, I’m not worrying about it, I’m making his favorite meatballs and I’m lettering the banner. I really hope the girl scouts aren’t busy.