High School Graduation: A Mom’s Reflection

Why is the alarm going off? What day is it? Where am I?

I’m startled out of my heavy sleep and realize: today my Girl graduates from high school. “That’s what today is,” I whisper into the morning air. Heavy, heavy sigh.

And out of nowhere, the memory reel flickers on more clearly than I thought possible. I’m taken back to a day nearly 15 years ago when Girl began preschool. I see her tear filled eyes and rose red cheeks as I leave her in the primary colored classroom. I wonder if she will be okay? Upon my return, two hours later, the teacher proceeds to tell me, “No, she was not ok for a while. She cried quite a bit. But she will be okay after a few days.”

I remember feeling like a failure. All the books said separation anxiety had everything to do with the Mom so I must have done something scathingly wrong during her three plus years here on the planet. “Don’t worry,” said Teacher. “I have a plan.”

The plan was that every day we would hug outside the classroom door but near the window overlooking the parking lot. When I left and got outside, I would wave up at her and she at me. I saw her chubby little face, her long, curly brown hair and her forced smile as we would wave to one another. I smiled widely and flailed my arms to make her laugh.

It worked like a charm. She still cried the first day of the window plan, sniffled the second, lingered the third, and by the end of the first week was hugging me goodbye at the classroom door without going to the window.

I will never not see her in that window, waving goodbye to me as she looked on as I drove away. But now I am the one at the window. I am the one looking on as she leaves. Except I don’t get to discover new things or new toys or new friends in a new classroom. I am in the same home we’ve lived in together for nearly 18 years. She is here less and less and soon she will be not here at all.

fullsizerender-8These are my first thoughts on her graduation day and I shed my first round of tears. I haven’t cried all week leading up to today.

I wrote about Girl’s graduation from middle school just four short years ago. I thought that was rough. I was right about how fast the time would fly. We’ve had a lot of bumps. So many that sometimes I thought I’d get car sick. I allowed my Girl to do things I never thought four years ago I would have allowed. She allowed us to learn to trust her. We go from loving each other fiercely to driving each other to the brink of crazy town. And yet.

We still love fiercely.

I also wrote about letting Girl go not long ago – almost nine months to be exact. I wrote about how nine months from then, she would be leaving for college. As I stare at the ceiling from my cozy bed this morning of her graduation, I realize our countdown is hovering at nine weeks.

Those are my second thoughts on graduation day. Weeks. Girl is moving out in just weeks. I cry a bit more. I will be lonely without her no doubt. I will miss her femininity, her smile, her morning hugs, her sweet and pretty face, her quick wit, her dishes on the counter and maybe even her messy room.

Once I get out of bed and begin the day, my thoughts are less reflective and more task oriented. I make sure Son has an ironed shirt, Hubs is getting the grandmas, the food is ready and the beer is cold for the party tonight. I decide to wear red lipstick because I’m feeling joyful despite my tears. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the graduation ceremony is happening soon and all is going well.

The front lawn of the high school is decorated with white chairs, a prominent stage and moms, dads, siblings and all sorts of family members. Everyone is smiling and saying hello. Everyone except my Son, who is rather miserable in his collared shirt, especially since he was forced to attend his sister’s graduation instead of play in his first baseball game of the summer league. I will remember this nugget always.

And as the principal and valedictorian speak, I drift off and wonder what Girl is thinking. Is she feeling nostalgic, happy, sad, anxious? Is she just sitting there sweating because gosh that sun, while gorgeous, is really freakin warm? Is she chatting with her classmates? Is she okay? Is she okay?

I realize I will always wonder if she is okay. I have always wondered and will continue to wonder. And I have always and will always want her to be okay. More than okay, naturally, but you get the picture, right?

And I pray I have done enough. That I have taught her enough. That I have loved her enough. I wonder what I have forgotten to teach her and pray the Universe will allow her to learn it all on her own.

I come back from the past and the future and bask in the moment of the blue sky and send a thank you to said Universe for giving me this beautiful soul to watch over during the last 18 years.

And then her name is called. With poise and a smile she walks across that stage and gets her diploma. I am filled with pride and joy and I cheer for her. And I cheer for Hubs and I.

And while I shed tears of sadness that this time of our life is over, I shed tears of joy that my Girl can move forward. That she is moving forward. She is living her life and having adventures and learning and falling and crying and laughing and doing all the things. And I am the lucky one watching her from the window.

Related Post: Letting Go of My High School Senior

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