Graduations to the left of me… Graduations to the right of me.
‘Tis the season.
What a life-altering time it is for the graduates AND the parents.
When my son graduated from high school many years ago the school asked us to write letters that would be presented on their last day of school. What a cathartic experience it was for me. Essential even. Years later, it still resonates with me.
If you have a graduating child or will shortly, I really recommend doing this, and for that reason I’m sharing my letter.
To the Class of 2013
June 3, 2008
Being your mother has been and will always be one of the greatest joys and gifts in my life. On April 24th, 1990 at 1:33 p.m., you were born; a perfect, little baby boy with a pelt of thick black wavy hair, golden skin, and a soft cry, and from that moment on my life would never be the same. I held you for the first time, your first seconds of life, you stared inquisitively at me, one eye squinting, lips puckered, tongue sticking out a bit, and from that moment forth my heart would never be the same. Words cannot begin to express how much you have meant to me and mean to me, how proud I am of you, and how much I love you.
Who could imagine the immense impact that a mere 5-pound bundle would come to have? I’m positive I’m not alone in that statement. You have touched not only me, but many with your kindness, your compassion, the strength in your beliefs, your sense of humor, and your smile; just to throw a few things out there.
You were my happy-go-lucky boy, with mounds of curls adorning an adorably pudgy face and with a personality that really stopped people in their tracks. You spread your joy around wherever we went. And I do mean wherever. It was the norm for you to hug and kiss all who crossed your path – family members, creatures great and small, complete strangers, the greeter at Wal-Mart (no lie). You did not care who. It was this enduring kindness that had me anxious… often. I didn’t want to smother your innocence, but at the same time I wanted to keep you safe in a world that, well, isn’t all that safe. I’m quite certain you were the only student in the history of Safety Town to go off with the decoy/bait “stranger” twice. TWICE! Miraculously, you stayed out of harm's way during your “love fest” phase. ~In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.~ All that being said, your heart is one of your greatest attributes. Never lose your ability to see all the good in people. Side note: let me take this opportunity to formally and in writing apologize for not cutting your hair sooner, those untamed heaps of curls and allowing you walk around looking much like Bozo the clown for far, far too long. I loved it at the time, but in looking back at photos, I honestly don’t know what I was thinking? I guess I’m wrong every once in a while (now you have that in writing, too).
From before your sister was even born, you were an amazing big brother. That holds true even today. At doctor’s appointments you’d eagerly find her heartbeat and could usually find it faster than the doctor. After she was born, you were so very proud as you walked around the hospital telling everyone, “that’s my baby.” You’d feed her, watch her every second and if I couldn’t find you, chances are you’d have scaled the crib and was just chilling and hanging out with lil Sis. At any one of her ER visits (and there were many), your instinct to “take care” of her was always well beyond your years. I’m grateful to have witnessed such a natural sense of responsibility.
As I told you on your 18th birthday, and I say this through bittersweet tears, with great pride but also great sadness, I am truly proud of the man that you have become. I could not be prouder of you. My sorrow only comes from the feeling that time has gone by much too quickly. It doesn’t seem remotely possible that 18 years have gone by since you first blessed this earth and my life and that you will be graduating from high school this very evening. I feel there is so much more I would like to do/have done with you . . . more vacations . . . more experiences . . . more memories . . . just plain and simply more. Of course, there are many more good times to come, but now it is your turn to really take off. Graduation is not the end; it's a new beginning. Make me proud, Corbin, I know you will.
I have learned over the years that time is one of our most precious commodities. Use your time wisely. Relish the good times. Surround yourself with people who make you happy, people who make you laugh, and people who encourage you to become a better person. Don’t spend valuable time with those that suffocate your hopes or ones that don’t help cultivate your dreams. Don’t spend time with people who put you down or drag you down.
Experience all that life has to offer. Accept opportunities whenever you can. Laugh often… until your eyes water and your sides hurt. Have lots of fun. Motherly caveat: don’t be careless in your pursuit of fun, however. Be safe and cautious - don’t go near any balconies on spring break or the like – for the sake of my heart, don’t do any extreme sports, as I could not even handle watching you guys jump on the trampoline – and please, please, please don’t kiss the Wal-Mart greeter anymore. Really. Please. ;)
Find something to be happy about every single day. Happiness may not always come easily into your life, but there is always something you can be happy about, it is simply up to you to discover it. Always truly appreciate all that you already have and all of life’s blessings. You have always done this and I admire you for it. I always wished and it pains me that I couldn’t provide much more to both you and your sister. You never, not once, begrudged not having something and were always very appreciative and thankful for what you did have. You even told me once that we were rich (lol). Let me tell you right now, we are rich!! Not rich financially, but we are rich in ways that cannot be obtained with any sum of money. And today, thanks to you, I feel especially “wealthy.”
There’s a saying, “Find a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life.” I hope that you select a major and wish you a career so that you can emulate just that, and will never work a day in your life. Nevertheless, bumps on the road of life are to be expected, but you cannot let them ruin your days. Often, the times we gain the most in knowledge and experience are the most difficult periods in life. So if things get tough, remember with patience, persistence and hard work you can and will make it through.
So, dear Son, my golden child ;) , thank you for 18 wonderful years (plus 40 days)! I’m expecting 18 more after that and 18 more after that! Thank you for all the beautiful memories! Thank you for in all of your 18 years never ceasing to make me laugh. Thank you for the hours and hours and hours of you sitting on my lap and reading to you, especially “Are you my Mother?” Maybe I’ll read it to you one more time before you leave for college, different voices and all, huh? But sans the whole lap thing because that’s just weird and you are too big anyways. Thank you for the 10,000+ times we watched “101 Dalmatians” together (never thought I’d be thanking you for that). Thank you for all the endless endearing Corbin chatter (that I will miss incredibly). Thank you for screaming with me and hugging me when I bought your car. Thank you for the Mother’s Day when you gave me roses, the way you came around Grandma’s yard with them and gave them to me and kissed me, like my night in shining armor. Thank you for always trying to be protective of me. Thank you for all the spider killing. What am I going to do now?? You are my favorite son! J
So on this day, Tuesday, June 3rd 2008, the things I will find to be happy about and let them fill my heart is . . . that you are my son . . . and that you are the greatest son I could possibly have wished for! I Love you! You will be missed deeply come September. Go Bucks!
Congratulations – Class of 2008