I think I was waiting for some emotional moment to happen when my oldest graduated. I expected to be overcome with sadness, but instead I was just immensely proud. I expected to mourn his milestone into adulthood, but instead I was really excited to see him transition to this next chapter of his life. I reminisced in my head about his kindergarten graduation. I bragged to anyone who would listen about him. (Sorry social media. But kinda not.) He’s now a graduate, moving onto this next adventure of his life: college, which is clear across the state from us.
It’s hard. It’s hard to put all of this to words. I spent the graduation not being able to hear anything and making jokes about how the mayor is only good at public appearances and giving speeches. I was just focused on getting him through the day, doing the walk he didn’t want to do. I told him, “I don’t care if you don’t do the walk. This isn’t for you. I care that your grandparents are going to be pissed at me for letting you not walk. I just don’t want to listen to it. So, suck it up buttercup, you’re doing it.” I explained for him that graduation is about the family being proud of their graduate. Hilariously, after all of that he keeps asking me for any pictures I had of the event. Not bad for someone who didn’t want to do the walk.
It’s easy to feel sad about this. You remember them as babies and somehow you blink and they are planning their college adventures. They are on a program for dormmates that’s essentially just Tinder, where you scroll through and select the people that you think you can spend the year not arguing with. You may even make a friend for the rest of your time at school. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m not letting myself focus on the sadness of my oldest leaving sooner than I’d like. I’m focusing on the other things. Like how great it’s going to be for him at his dream school. Like how I need a new couch and a fixed bathroom door before I can throw a party. Like how if I break down, I know everyone else will follow. But if I show strength, they will all know it’s okay. I know my role in the world, and that’s it.
My boy graduated within the top 70 of his class of 291 students and he graduated with a fancy Pro Merito recognition. He finished his grades with a 90 in AP English and had honors all 4 years of school. He had his choice of colleges and a future wide open to him. I’m so proud of his hard work and the man that he’s become. He’s caring, compassionate, and kind. He’s trying to figure out how he can use his future career to have a positive impact on the world. He wants to help people and wants to work in law enforcement, trying to do his part to make the system more honest. He has lofty ideals that I hope for his sake (and the world’s really) he can accomplish. I have faith that he’s going to do great things. I have faith that I did everything that I could to give him the foundation of intelligence, confidence, and compassion to achieve everything he wants to.
My boy is a graduate. The world is now his to do what he wants with. And I wish that I could say that I could not be any more proud of him than I am in this very moment. But I know that he’s going to keep making me even prouder when he goes out into this world. I just hope that he’s ready for the world.