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From First Steps to the Walk of Pomp and Circumstance

It is graduation season, and we have two in the house this year – one from college and one from high school! Number 1 and Number 3 have reached new milestones; as Number 2 and Number 4 continue the journey. At the same time, my husband and I are caught in between the busyness of the end of school year concerts and banquets, and celebrations to come that inspire us to look back on the 18-and-22-year life cycle of the kids.

The nice thing about having multiple kids, is that we know what to expect at high school graduation, the ceremony, the pomp and circumstance, and where to sit so we can get a picture of our child’s face as he shakes hands with the school administrators. We have a little less anxiety about the parties, the gifts and realistic time expectations of guests who will stop by for an open house.

We even anticipate the temporary “tweak” in personality that is caused by “senioritis” – the condition that accompanies students who know they are so close to the finish line that they get a taste of life after school, even if just for a summer. There is something about this time, when young adults are in between, wanting to be done with school and, at the same time, having a little trepidation about being on their own in the future. The symptoms of senioritis include: a little more push back on parental rules, rolling eyes at requests to do homework, and a visceral reaction to even simple requests, like picking up a napkin that fell on the floor.

One of my favorite graduation activities is looking back on pictures that remind us how far each child has come over time. Fortunately, my husband is an awesome picture taker, and with the invention of icloud, we can store a ton of pictures on our phones and smart devices. During graduation, I have had a valid excuse to spend a lot of time scanning through photos from birth to 18 and beyond.

I get to step back in time, and marvel at how this child that I held as a baby is now wearing a suit and tie, and real dress shoes. I have the privilege of seeing him go from a chubby-cheeked elementary school kid to a young man who wears cologne, and actually puts product in his hair. Truth be told, that is my favorite part of graduation celebrations; the opportunity to reminisce. I have no desire to live in the past; I do, however, really enjoy seeing progress.

At this time of year, every time I see a baby or toddler, I think about the journey that is ahead of him, and wonder what he will look like 16 or 17 years from now. It makes me smile. I love little munchkins, and I am enjoying this phase of life when our kids are more independent.

Well, maybe just a little independent. With Number 1, we are experiencing a new type of graduation – from college; new in that we are now parents and not the graduates. Our almost college graduate is now a freshman in adult life. I say that because when I ask Number 1 questions, the response I get is that “I don’t want to be an adult yet – do I really need to find that out before I start my job.”

Okay, there is always tomorrow. That is what I say, but inside my head I am in a panic. What, this child does not know X, Y, or Z…how will Number 1 handle A, B or C? While we always will be the parents, our role has shifted, from managing directors to consultative partners. After all, she has thrived in college; safely returned from international travel; found a job on her own, before graduating and so much more. Just like her first steps, these are things to celebrate!

Happy Graduations to all.

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