This past weekend was a special one for our household. Like many things that are worth the wait, it was a long time coming. It was all the more special for what we’ve had to overcome as a family. I won’t sugar-coat it: many times I prayed this would be a milestone that we would all get to witness, and that gift was not lost on anyone. Saturday, December 14, our oldest son graduated from college.
Something else I won’t sugarcoat is the fact that I almost missed it, not physically, but emotionally. If it helps no one else, I want to be able to look back and remember the epiphany that changed my perspective on the Wednesday before the ceremony. It had been a busy Fall for us…we went out of town nearly every weekend, which is very rare for us homebodies. In addition to that, I have spent the better part of the last month working twice as much as usual, due to my job-share partner’s illness. My husband’s hospitalization in the weeks leading to Thanksgiving was the final ingredient in my recipe for an overstressed wife, mother and caregiver. I could see no end to the events, and my to-do list for the perfect graduation party was multiplying before my very eyes. Part of this list was learning to complete two years’ worth of home repairs. I don’t know why it was so important, I guess I wanted everyone to think I had it all under control. That was far from the truth.
At any rate, I was trying to cram an entire day’s worth of yard work in the one hour between work and sunset, when it hit me: OUR SON is GRADUATING. From COLLEGE!! We are not celebrating our clean yard, our Christmas decorations, or whether we got the ceiling patched. We are celebrating the miracle of loved ones among us and the miracle of our children and their accomplishments. In addition, every person who would be with us on that day knows the challenges we have faced. Once I was able to let go of a little bit of pride, a heaviness was lifted and I could finally breathe again. It was exhilarating to mentally cross the things off my list that didn’t really matter.
On our son’s special day what did matter were the things that, if I had allowed stress to direct my ways, I might have missed: The look on my husband’s face as he watched our brand new college graduate march across the stage. The love and appreciation for those who took an entire day out of their lives to be a part of our own. The raw emotion of our younger son as he literally pounced on his brother for the most heartfelt bear hug I have ever seen. The sounds of laughter and the recalling of memories that rang through my not-perfectly-clean-or-maintained-home.
It is very gratifying to see our son grow into the wonderful young man he is, even if he DID do it in the blink of an eye. It was wonderful seeing him interact with his younger brother, with his grandparents, his aunts, uncles and friends. It is wonderful to know that, whatever else we have done in this life, we will have left the best of ourselves in these two fine young men. And THAT is worth celebrating!