This weekend has been one great, big, emotional blur. Big Poppa, the girls and I literally went on a whirl wind 36 hour trip from Texas to Ohio to witness the first of our five children graduate from college. Although I am thoroughly exhausted, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Okay, that’s not exactly accurate, because I would have liked an extra day to spend more time with our graduate and I would have loved not traveling with two little ones in the middle of the night, and I really would have liked a lot more sleep. However, under the circumstances, I will take what I can get.
I love graduations and everything that they represent. A new chapter in your life, a chance to start over; a chance to learn new things and go on new adventures. I find it all really exciting. Yet, as a parent (or in this case, a step-parent), that movie reel of their life starts to play as graduation day gets closer and it just seems impossible that this day could be here. After all, wasn’t it just yesterday that she turned 13 and had about 11 or 12 of her closest, dearest, best of friends over for a slumber party? By the way, no one slept that night. Or isn’t she just 16 and learning to drive? I couldn’t believe how fast she turned around curves and corners. Her dad did most of the training. Or, weren’t we just shopping for prom? Every mother of a daughter needs to experience this…FUN! So, although I have been anticipating this day for quite a few years now, it did seem to sort of sneak up on me.
Now, in preparation for this weekend’s festivities, I distinctly remembered that at J’s high school graduation, the moment that I saw her enter the arena with 900 of her classmates, I burst into tears. I don’t mean tears silently streaming down my face, either. I mean ugly crying. Came out of nowhere! A couple of days before, we had shopped at H&M for this cute little yellow dress that she wore at the ceremony and I just couldn’t believe that she was leaving home. I came undone and it wasn’t pretty. Considering this, you would think that I would have remembered to put tissue in my handbag before going to her college graduation. Yes, you would think so, but I didn’t. I will admit that it was touch and go there for a while but, my saving grace was the fact that we had to catch a 7:00 p.m. flight and the commencement didn’t start until 2:00 p.m. , so I was watching the clock to make sure that we made our exit in time to get to the airport. I should probably tell you that we are not crazy. There was a reason that we had to cut it so close and make it back home. You see, Big Poppa is once again on an airplane headed to some glamorous location, just a day later. I told him that it was really great that he could visit with us for the week. I know, it was snotty of me, but I couldn’t resist.
As for J, she is now a graduate of Wilberforce University with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. Like a lot of other new graduates, she’s a little unsure of where she’s headed, but she’s taking the time to explore her options. She’s got big dreams and a lot of ambition. I like that in her. Oh, to be 22 years old and carefree again, right? The commencement speaker, Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, (D), took a moment to remind J and her peers that they are not exactly “carefree”. I liked her observations so much so that I actually remembered them without writing them down. At the close of her message she told the graduates that there were three things that she wanted them to remember as they went forth into the real world:
1. God gave each of them two hands, one to reach forward and the other to reach back. After all, we are our brother’s keepers and it is our responsibility to see that no one is left behind.
2. Do not expect others to do more for you than you are willing to do for yourself. Your dreams are for you to achieve and it takes your hard work to achieve them (I liked this one in particular).
3. According to Senator Turner’s grandmother (who had no more than a third grade education), these three things are necessary to be successful: a) a wishbone to dream upon, b) a jawbone to speak to truth (also known as integrity) and c) a backbone to withstand all that life throws at you.
Truth! I’d say that she was a very wise grandmother.
In the end, not only did we get to see J receive her diploma, but we also had just enough time to take pictures, hug and wish her the very best before ran out to catch our flight. I would like to take this opportunity to say congratulations to her father, Big Poppa, and her mother. The two of you raised a great young woman. I’m honored to have been a part of your supporting cast.
Okay…one kid down…four to go.