Moms Graduation Speech

As I ponder the idea of no longer being a participant in the public school system, the thought that I am rid of fund raisers, done with dirty basketball jerseys, shed of tracking a textbook assigned ten months ago and never used, and altogether destitute of paperwork to be filled out in triplicate with a blue ink pen…a single tear of pure joy glistens in my eye. My left eye. The one that twitches.

Let freedom ring.

I’d like to thank everyone who made this moment possible.

I could not have worn such a deep trench in the elementary school doorway, had not Hubby insisted that homeschooling was “not an option”. Thank you, Hubby, for challenging me to find a way to homeschool our kids anyway by bringing home sixteen years of creative projects for all 800 of the students I adopted there.

Thank you, Middle School Principal, for welcoming five siblings in a row, children who brought their bicycles with them instead of their mother, children who learned the value of a dollar by hustling duct tape wallets, the value of deodorant after gym class, and the value of functional stall doors in a bathroom. We learned there’s no place like home after all.

Shout out to my firstborn for teaching me that we all learn in our own ways during high school. Some of us learn while sitting in the back row, staring out a window, and doodling on the homework. We learn that teachers are furious when they call you out in front of the class and you actually know the answers.

Second born, thank you for becoming fluent in Spanish so that I don’t need to be. It’s as entertaining as the German, Russian, and whale your siblings pretend to speak. You taught me that there’s no such thing as too many boxes full of awards.

Middle child, my never-in-a-hurry-why-do-you-want-to-rush-stuff one, thank you for waiting until two weeks to graduating to decide that you actually did want to attend college. I think your degree in “Communication” is as authentic as the panic attack I had.

I appreciate the effort it took, oh fourth one, to move to a new high school, forsaking the legacy of our family reputation to create a name for yourself. You played varsity sports as a freshman, losing every single game for a year, and ended your senior year with mono. You taught me gumption. One of us deserves a gold sticker.

And now, the last man standing, he who had to grow a sense of humor at birth, the one who had no idea his vision was bad until twelve tender years of age, the man who can perform quantum physics yet struggles with a pencil and long division, is poised on the platform, prepared to join his siblings in the world of adults, so long as there’s no laundry involved.

Thank you for doing your homework, love. Even if I think it’s cheating to do “research” from your couch instead of fighting classmates over the last three reference books in an actual library a day before the term paper is due. Sorry about that dopamine addiction. We all thought educating through an iPad was a good idea four years ago.

I’m so happy. I’m so blessed. I’m so tired.

I hope I can make it through the ceremony.

In conclusion, an Honorary Mention goes out to my fellow moms. Yes, that award given to our kids at school assemblies, recognizing that they have been showing up and breathing in and out all day. The one that reminds us that we are all winners.

To the girlfriends who stood by me during Common Core Math and the common cold; those who heard my battle cries and administered hot tea and hugs. Thank you for reminding me that the school system with its trappings and traps, is temporary after all. Our educations are priceless. And our possibilities are endless.

Let’s do this.

James Bond Does A Graduation

The June sun presided over an outdoor commencement. Perspiration crept along hairlines.

The college president was Kenyan, the keynote speaker was from Iran, the flowers were Hawaiian.

Among the grad-crazed families sat a single Russian spy. His beloved princess was graduating magna cum laude today with a degree in Political Science and another in Chemistry. He set aside his routine of espionage to sit in the anonymous audience of hundreds. He never perspired; not even when carrying bits of high-tech radically engineered weapons information for the Kremlin. Today he was travelling light.

Just passing through.

The devilishly alluring man in the impeccable Brioni suit and dark glasses moved casually to a seat nearby as the ceremony began.

Queue the James Bond theme song.

In the long line of flowing black robes, Natasha is announced. She walks across the stage to receive her diploma. Women shriek, balloons escape skyward.

Only when the crowds clear the field, hours later, does anyone notice the body slumped in the chair.

Covered by an air horn blast and surrounded by parents straining into the sunlight to see a glimpse of their own prodigies, the elimination went undetected.

James Bond fades into the background.

Mischief managed.

******************************************************************

I can’t stand the boredom of ceremonies. I just can’t. Society dictates that a person has not graduated, married, given birth, or died, unless a party has been properly thrown over it, money spent on it, and particular traditions carried out in his honor. It must involve vast quantities of food.

But first and foremost, you must stand witness to the event.

Even if you’re a Russian spy.

If I had spare time I would spend it reading a good book, sleeping, or daydreaming about 007.

During my daughter’s graduation, I did all three.

I’m fairly certain no one noticed.

There are approximately 300 graduates to run the gauntlet. The first string comes through and random clusters of family members clap and cheer politely. Until the second row, fifth grad in, when his family decides to jump up, blasting air horns, and shriek at the top of their lungs.

We levitated for a moment over our seats.

We will never know who the sixth grad was.

Once my hearing returned, it was much too late to send them harsh looks of admonishment because, by George, every other family decided they would not be upstaged or (heaven forbid) their own child feel less loved due their lack of vocal enthusiasm.

Nothing is more irritating than having your nap interrupted by women clearly having liposuction without anesthesia. There were shrieks of agony from all corners of the audience and I looked everywhere for the mass murderer.

Sometimes the men would attempt the same decibels in a lower octave and it only managed to sound like they were about to take the warpath. Or they’d had a kneecap busted. Or maybe they’d just seen the VISA bill for the after-party.

After a while I was feeling sorry for the grads with polite parents, but I would find myself looking up from Pride & Prejudice wishing the sudden silence would last longer than three names.

I heard a whistle once, but instead of the police coming to arrest obnoxious guests, it was a mom who wasn’t about to sacrifice her tonsils to the cause but needed to make sure her presence was acknowledged.

At the end of the ceremony, we were all told very specifically how to exit the field and where to meet our grads. I held onto my chair and braced. The very moment tassels turned, the audience surged like a tsunami and met the incoming wave of grads, crashing together in a mindless smash-up of humanity.

Our family had the back of the stadium to ourselves as we hugged and smiled and snapped a couple of photos.

We casually strolled to the cars, drove home without a trace of traffic, and yes, had a wonderful after-party full of family, friends and fun.

Far be it from me to defy the tradition of ages.

If I noticed the solitary man in the tailored suit and dark glasses, a wry half-smile on his face, I certainly didn’t make eye contact.

Mom-solete

It’s right on the fence whether I will have my “Mom Card” revoked or just suspended. I didn’t break any laws, per se. But apparently I have not completely fulfilled my motherly duty by ‘caring enough’.

I have a daughter graduating from college this month. She is the second of my entire personal family tree to own a college degree and I am eager to throw some confetti at the ticker-tape parade. Every time I considered “going back to college” I was held back by the thought, “I’ll have to take math.” If they would have accepted only the essay questions involving a speeding train, a crossing car and a pelican, I just might have gone for it. (Answer: the pelican should not have been driving the car in the first place.)

My daughter can speed read textbooks that are clearly written in Greek for secret societies in code.  And now she is pondering her next step which involves testing the waters in another state.

As yet another huge change descends on our family, the question I’ve asked my children from the womb re-surfaces. What do you want to be when you grow up?

The question has evolved to include what I feel are obvious sidebars.

Whatever you think you’re going to do, it had better 1) pay your bills, 2) be personally fulfilling, 3) allow you to move out into the big world, and 4) be respectable enough I can brag about it for a while.

The question involves a lot of thought, and it’s not like they haven’t had years to ponder it. As a matter of fact, I myself ponder the same thing but I don’t have parents waiting for the answer anymore. So the pressure’s off.

Based on where all of my money goes, I’d vote for the professions of orthodontist, auto mechanic, owner of a Target store, or perhaps diaper manufacturer. If I had a nickel for every diaper I’ve ever changed, they could just sit back and inherit. Also a nice way to go if you can pull it off.

As I sat one afternoon with friends and family, the subject of graduating and job finding circled the room. One of my friends had a daughter who spent a couple thousand dollars flying to Texas for a job interview and was offered the position. The daughter had schooled and trained hard for her career choice and this seemed like very good news.

My sweet mom friend sat there and cried.

I’m trying to digest the fact that she is already desperately missing her daughter. The daughter who just attained huge success and reached her latest goals. The one about to become independent and self sufficient and fulfilled. It’s even respectable! Surely love can span a couple of states?

From where I’m sitting, it feels like the whole point of my career, “Mom”, is to work myself out of it. If the kids are no longer coming to me to fill their needs because they are well trained to fill them their selves, I have succeeded in my job. It’s a win-win when a child becomes a happy, healthy, and whole adult. It may take a lifetime and that’s OK, but steady progress is delightful.

I don’t want to be a speed-bump in the fast lane of my child’s road trip.

But when my daughter compares the two moms sitting on the couch, one forlorn and one ecstatic, her frown indicates which one she’d prefer. And I know my “Mom Card” is up for review.

I’ll have to be on my best behavior for a while. I can see the future ‘care packages’ will have to contain at least a dozen fuzzy socks, some Starbucks cards, definitely some country music selections, and a tin of chocolate chip cookies.

And very likely some confetti.