As my youngest’s high school graduation loomed recently I became increasingly thrown by the emotional parent posts ramping up on my Facebook feed. While I continued to post equally enthusiastic OMG!s over every Game of Thrones episode, I started to realize I wasn’t nearly as wrapped up in the upcoming milestone as the other moms.
At my attendance at each of the requisite senior assemblies I watched as these other moms passed around tissues – while I checked my watch, gauging my arrival to work.
I scrolled my feed daily, seeing one heartfelt sentiment after another.
Where did the time go???? (multiple punctuation marks)
I just can’t believe it! (multiple sad emojis)
So proud! (picture, picture, picture, pic…)
And there I sat, silently wondering Are we all talking about high school? Um, isn’t this supposed to happen?
I was neither sad nor melancholy and quickly suspected there might be something wrong with me. Sure, sure, sure I’d been at this rodeo three times already. But had I become world-weary? Jaded? Cynical? I mean, for a school *career, my kid had a pretty great run. He – like many of his friends – did well academically, had impressive moments on the field and on occasion, even garnered a few local headlines that at times made his head swell. Of course I was proud of him.
But (again) this was high school. My overall sentiment percolated under the surface: okay, great, kudos, nice job, way to go.
Now, move on.
I’m sorry (not sorry) it’s just never been something I’ve ever thought was a big deal. In fact it’s been unconditionally expected for all of my kids. Getting through high school was their only job and while I enjoyed every moment in an auditorium or bleacher and duly scrapbooked every news clipping, I’m ready to put it on a shelf and start a new one.
With a whole life ahead of them, I’ve always been more excited to see what my kids will all do when left to their own passions and inclinations.
Now, before the knives come out, really, I have not lived this last year of high school without all emotion. Far from it (Facebook can confirm). I have enjoyed and embraced his every memorable moment and even have a favorite.
Unbeknownst to him, there is one particular Mom Moment I will hold onto for a very, very long time (you know, until the moment gets taken over by this kid running NASA or curing cancer or I don’t know, taking out the trash without being asked).
My paramount takeaway from my final kid’s high school experience was actually my own experience during his last hurrah, at his last assembly. As the graduating class walked in, swishing by in their robes, past the parents, and onto the stage, I (looked up from my watch, naturally and) caught a glimpse of some other parents as he walked by them.
We live in a small Norm-from-Cheers town, where everybody knows your name and most, if not all, parents know each other by a history of six degrees of K-12 separation (or siblings). Many of these parents – better than me, who’d arrived early and had scored the enviable, photography-worthy aisle seats (unlike myself, sitting in the back, closer to my car) watched as my kid walked by. As he did, and since I had the panoramic of the auditorium from my vantage point in the back (totally planned) I caught sight of some parents and saw their smiles broaden as he passed. I scanned some more faces and saw it repeated, and witnessed the creases in their crow’s feet deepen, too. Some others applauded more heartily and fist bumped him as he neared their aisle seat. My insides swelled. There was such tremendous and genuine affection and fondness in their expressions I found myself only watching the crowd as he passed. Those that know him were beaming and it was a vision I will never, ever forget (memory be damned – it’s in a blog now — #internetforever).
I don’t think anything could ever make me any prouder as a parent.
(In fact as soon as those wet towels are picked up I am soooo posting about it.)
Without question, I highly recommend reading the room whenever your kid walks in. It just may give you all the validation you’ll ever need in life.
And – at least for me – that milestone will most definitely outshine a high school graduation every time.
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Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and has been featured in Huff Post. She appeared in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone” presenting her popular essay The Thinking Girl’s Thong and her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series. That said, she still places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements (next would be as the $100,000 winner on that home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook & @Eyerollingmom on Instagram. Her collection of essays, A Momoir, can be found here (agent interest ALWAYS WELCOME!)