Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Milestones among the Masses

written by Judy Larsen

As parents, we know there are moments, markers, that measure how the years are passing (whizzing past, actually). First day of school. First stitches. First lost tooth. They're still cute and little then. And it's individual. Personal. Mostly just you and your kid.

Then, the steps get bigger. Driver's License. High school graduation. These are rites of passage you knew were coming. My sons' elementary school actually sent each kindergartner home on the first day of school with a t-shirt that read "KHS class of 20--". But at the time, that year seemed so far away. Almost like a sci-fi movie. You know, where you think, gee, wonder if by then they'll have invented self-laundering clothes? Or some sort of portable music thingie way littler and pricier than a walkman. I'm sure when I was in kindergarten (LBJ was president then, folks!) my parents never imagined a day when disco music or betamax tape players would exist.

And even as the steps add up, as you check off one more item in your parenting handbook (Am I the only one who didn't get one with ALL the instructions or pages? Like what to do when your son gets his heart broken? Or how to get kids to rinse their dishes on a regular basis? Or that reminder to bring extra batteries for the camera to your son's graduation?), you successfully push away the day when they'll really move on, when you will sit in a stadium with about 35,000 people who are all friends and family of one of the graduates and watch your son march in wearing a black cap and gown with his fellow 7,864 graduates, all about to pick up a shiny college diploma with that name you so carefully parsed out 22 years earlier ("good God, no, we can't have that for a middle name. How will it sound when he graduates?" Because, of course, the only time middle names matter is at commencement ceremonies or if they ever turn into serial killers or assassinate someone famous.)

But that's what I did this past Sunday afternoon. I sat in "The Shoe" at The Ohio State University and, with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, watched my son walk in (he was somewhat easier to spot because the landscape architect classmate in line behind him had attached a large square of sod to the top of his cap!) and take his seat. And even though the day was hot (92 degrees), the crowd was well-behaved. We were basking in pride because we were all there because someone we loved was achieving a dream. Achieving a hard-earned piece of paper that had come with sweat and tears and sleepless nights and doubts; that had cost money and faith and hopes.

And when I watched him walk up to the table to pick it up, he turned and jumped up and waved at us (because through the miracle of cell phones he knew where we were sitting. He was also still right in front of sodhead boy. And, he was 16th from the end of his line. No, they did not say all 7,864 names. It just felt like they had). And I knew it had been an honor to be his mom for all these years. And to know that I'd raised him to be such a good man.

And then, as if he knew I needed it, he jogged over to the endzone and laid down and made a little snow angel (sans snow of course), and I laughed through my tears because the little dimple-faced boy who'd been my first teacher in Mom 101 was still alive and well and kicking. He might be hidden in a person a half-foot taller than me, and when we hug he practically rests his chin on my head, but if I look really hard, I can still see glimmers of the little boy he used to be and when that happens the years fade away and it doesn't seem that long ago.

(In the photo, he's standing alone in the row above of all the others, below the two graduates a few rows above him.)


MargyWrites said...

Bittersweet. I love that he made an "angel."

Congratulations to your son- and to you too, Mama. Job well done.

Melanie Lynne Hauser said...

The snow angel is perfect. (So's the guy with the sod on his cap - so funny!)

Congratulations to both of you! I know how bittersweet this time is, and am relying on you to show me the way to handle it all - so you're my role model, Judy! I couldn't have picked a better one!

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Bittersweet says it all--but more sweetness than bitter, I promise!

Thanks Margy. It's certainly been a fun, wild ride.

Melanie--sheesh, role model? Thanks and I'll do my best. One thing with the oldest child, I'm a first-time mom for everything.

Daisy said...

Sniff. (Reaching for a tissue...) My eldest will graduate one year from now. Sniff. I don't know if I'm ready for this!

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Oh Daisy, I'm never ready for most of what comes flying my way!, but it's glorious, too. His wings are mighty strong now and he's flying.

mommeeof9 said...

Thats the part with which I have the most trouble, trying to page back through the memories and remember each child at a certain age. There are a lot of them.

Though, I try to remember to take pictures of major stuff. If I could remember to buy new batteries for the camera. :)

My oldest has one more year of high school and will probably go to the community college for 2 years. They'll be paying for their own schooling just like mom did.

Shellie said...

How sweet! Can't wait till my husband is finally doing that graduating thing!

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Mommee--That's the hard part, isn't it--I sometimes find myself looking at pictures from years ago and thinking, "is that really us?" because it's hard to remember.

Shellie--Good luck to both of you. Hang in there!

Threeundertwo said...

That brought tears to my eyes. What a lovely post! Love the snow angel!

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

3under2-Thanks. It was a very sweet day. Glad you stopped by.

devilish southern belle said...

Congrats to your son, and to you for raising such a wonderful young man! Your post brought tears to my eyes.


Judy Merrill Larsen said...

DSB, Aw, thanks. I'm a very proud mama.

American in Norway said...

I got a little teary there... Congratulations to you both... I know as a mamma you must be proud. Those days seem like a long way off for me.. but I know in an intance it will be here.
Congrats again... PS love the blog.. I will be wandering over for lots of tips.. : )

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Good Morning to Norway! Thanks for stopping by; we'll look forward to having you visit often. And yes, the years fly by in an instant. Hug 'em often.