I generally have tried to refrain from dragging my kids into my blogging. Other than general descriptions of family life at times, I have tried to keep them out of this space. This is my blog and they deserve to be kept out of it unless they wanted to be a part of it. So, I keep them out of it for the most part. But we’re at one of those crossroad moments in our lives that can prompt some looking back and peering ahead.
Yesterday, my younger son graduated from high school. Before I go further, I would just like to say that the ceremony included some incredible music performances. Four young ladies in the graduating class sung the National Anthem. A cappella. With such beautiful harmonies and so restrained. It was very possibly the best version of the song I’ve ever heard. Then a group of students, in the middle of the ceremony, provided some additional musical entertainment. One of them was a young man who was on my older son’s little league team for a year or two about ten years ago. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that kid growing up and having the confidence and presence to get into music and perform as he did — a solo acoustic performance of Sam Smith’s Stay With Me, with his own twist to the lyrics to make it relevant to high school graduation. It blew my mind to see how good he was.
My older son graduated two years ago. Here they are.
Trust me when I say that my older son, the smile notwithstanding, was not enjoying this moment. He is a reluctant hugger when it comes to his family. Of course, that just means we do everything we can to find reasons to hug him, as my younger son did here in a most special way.
So, I now have two high school graduates and no more to follow. On the one hand, I’m thrilled that I will no longer have to deal with the public school system. That’s a post for another day. On the other hand, I’m thrilled that they are this much closer to being adults and on their own.
The reality is that I love my kids, I have loved being their father. Even with all of the trials and tribulations that come with that, I wouldn’t replace the last 20 years for anything. But I am done. Washed up and worn out by those trials and tribulations and I am ready to move on to the next chapter or two in my life.
And this graduation marks possibly the first page in that chapter. In a couple of months, the older will be returning to college down there and the younger will be embarking on his own college adventure up there. One is struggling with what he wants to do with his life and worries that maybe he shouldn’t return to college until he figures it out. The other is in love with the idea of being a large animal veterinarian, but I worry about his ability to work through the harder math and science classes that will soon confront him. You see, there are still challenges ahead for them that just might alter the pages in the story of my life. Not just theirs.
And that’s why I struggle with “celebrating” too much right now. Yes, it is a milestone moment for my younger son and for the family and I’m proud of him, proud of them both. But there are still a lot of road bumps ahead. There are still challenges they will face and I will still need to be their dad for a few more years.
Yes, I know, I know. The truth is that I will always be their dad, but there will be a moment I hope arrives sooner or later, where being a dad means that I can watch comfortably while they take on the challenge of their own lives and I get to watch from the shadows instead of continuing to step in and try to guide them, of taking on some of the responsibility for what they should be doing. Until that moment arrives, I will continue my struggle to celebrate these moments.
For a moment though, I’d like to forget all of that. My kid graduated from high school yesterday. He worked hard to get there. He has found a thing he hopes will not just be a job, but a career and a love, that may sustain him for the rest of his life. That’s something to be happy for. That’s something to celebrate with the hope and the wish that he continues to move forward, to progress towards his dream until he sees it come true. Isn’t that what we all want for our kids? For all kids.
I love you, my little bumble bee. And you, too, Boo. In the years that have flown by, maybe I haven’t said that enough, or shown it enough. Maybe there have been times when I have let my anger and frustration with how things are get in the way of the idea of you and I. Of just being able to be proud of who you are. Maybe? Sadly, that’s a definite. I know I have. But I’ve never stopped loving both of you as deeply and strongly as I possibly could. And that will never stop.