My son’s graduation

It happened on a rare perfect day in Wisconsin. The temperature 75 degrees with a light breeze under partly sunny skies. No rain, no muggy humidity.

I’m not sure why we felt so stressed out that morning as my husband and I snapped at each other. Maybe the perfect conditions was a sure sign to be cautious that something might go wrong.

Last minute Alex couldn’t find dress pants that fit and had to borrow a pair of Paul’s. I was worried that he would be late for school one last time.

We sat with family on the bleachers in the gym. I tried to keep an open mind, yet inwardly I judged.

Did the people in front of us manage to have some of the few empty seats because they purposely didn’t shower? I ended up sitting behind them because no one else could stand the smell.

Then there was the mother with the ripped jeans and crop top like she was attending her daughter’s graduation from pole dancing school. I was appalled. I am not big on fashion, but made sure to buy myself a new dress. There are some things that one must simply look respectable for.

There was the child that sat behind us with an incessant whine.

Well at least they were there showing their support which is more than my dad did. He decided not to attend.

I’m not going to lie to you. I was filled with anxiety.

I was worried all week that I would get that knock on my door with a certified letter stating that my son did not meet the requirements to graduate. I imagined myself full of shame as I explained why my son’s name wasn’t called at the graduation ceremony when people came bearing gifts at his graduation party. But I emptied that anxiety just to fill it with more.

I had irrational fear that my son would end up punching someone instead of shaking their hand as he received his diploma. I still thought that maybe he wouldn’t graduate as he received his diploma. There was a part of me that was very unsettled. I felt fear that there could be a school shooting during the graduation. Sadly, I no longer feel safe in large crowds of people.

I saw my son’s friends come in that attended another school. Included in the group was the boy we took into our home that stole from us. I felt uncomfortable.

My brother Luke asked my daughter’s boyfriend Dan if he was having flashbacks of his own graduation there. He said, “Yeah, more like PTSD”.

The graduation ceremony was boring. It was hard to see, the nearby projector didn’t work and the microphone kept cutting out if the speaker didn’t have their mouth right on the microphone.

The guest speaker was a doctor of neurophysics. She showed pictures of herself and spoke of all of her amazing accomplishments in a monotone voice. I thought to myself that I needed to get out of all graduation ceremonies I can in the future.

After the ceremony was done, I felt very happy and giddy. I was ready to go out and pop champagne in the school parking lot. Would that be against the law? Never mind, I didn’t have any champagne. I hugged boy B’s mom. We did it! We convinced our boys that hated school to graduate. I can’t quite explain the feeling. I felt like I almost got hit by a bus, but at the last second got away. That feeling of just escaping disaster. My son was also the happiest I’ve seen him in a long time.

Afterwards, we had family over at our house. It was so nice that we were able to play games outside and sit on the patio with a fire.

All in all, it was a wonderful day. We are happy that our son graduated. I can’t tell you how relieved I am.

 

 

In bloom

Good news! My son is graduating this weekend!

I really wasn’t sure he was going to pull it off. Although my son has a brilliant mind, he has been an underachiever.

Paul and I attended the high school awards ceremony this past week. I noticed that 90% of the awards went to 15% of the students. My son received one award for an extracurricular music trip that he participated in.

It was easy to go to the award ceremony when Angel graduated from high school because she was an overachiever. It was different this time around. I noticed the parents that were there and more notably, the parents who did not attend.

Sometimes we just want life to be fair. We want ‘good’ parents to raise ‘good’ kids. For most things, our results are a response to the amount of effort put into something. There is no guarantee with parenting.

We may light the path we want our child to take, they may take a different trail.

I noticed a good example of that a couple months ago.

Parents A have a son that won a lot of awards at the ceremony. He is a star athlete getting letters in a dozen sports. He is good looking, a high honor student, popular, and very involved in his high school experience.

Parents B have a son that is an underachiever, not very athletic, not all that attractive, and is a smoker.

Boy A and boy B are cousins. Boy A ratted boy B out for smoking. Boy A’s parents told boy B that he was a loser and would never amount to anything. Then boy A’s parents confronted boy B’s parents and told them that they were horrible parents. Boy A’s parents told them that if they were good parents then they would have a bright shining star like boy A. Ouch!

Mom B cried as she told me this story. I was appalled and angry. The parents of boy B are great parents. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Is it wrong to want boy A’s parents to come crashing off of their high horse?

Should you ever confront parents if they are doing everything they can and their kid strays off the path?

It reminds me of how my mother was treated having a violent autistic child. People pointed fingers and blamed her for the way my brother was acting. What a refrigerator mom! It was painful to hear their comments. My mom needed support and help, not to be ostracized and condemned for something beyond her control.

It was great when my overachieving daughter received award after award. Guess what? It made me feel like I was a great parent. But it really was the fruition of her own efforts and good choices.

When do children stop being dependent and start making their own decisions? The line was so fine I didn’t even notice the transition.

I had dreams for my son too. He is a talented musician but earned no band awards because he is no longer in band. All of his previous work and past achievements were not applauded. He still was voted the best musician in the senior class by his classmates. In the fall, we even toured a college for music. He decided to go to tech school instead.

Sometimes our kids will date people we don’t like. They might choose a different career than what we chose for them. They may even decide not to follow our political or religious beliefs. But it is their choice.

Needless to say, boy A’s parents were happy parents at the award ceremony. Boy B received no awards. His parents were not in attendance.

I thought I had everything figured out with the whole parenting thing when my first two babies were happy and slept through the night right away. I was ready to write that parenting book. Well, not really, but you know what I mean. Then baby three came along and was colicky. She cried day and night and rarely slept through the night for over a year.

I realized then that I didn’t have all of the answers. There isn’t an instruction book. If there was I probably wouldn’t follow it anyway. Sometimes things just don’t go the way we want them to. It is heartbreaking as a parent.

Some kids bloom at different times. Honestly, I would hate my children to experience the best years of their lives in high school. There are so many better years beyond that to experience.

Boy B hasn’t bloomed yet. Sometimes he comes to my house along with a slew of other underachieving boys. Several of them are at my house right now. Some come from good homes, others I know are going to struggle. But they are great kids. They are respectful to me, funny, and kind. They just haven’t bloomed yet.

My son is graduating this weekend. I can’t wait to watch how his life unfolds as he starts to bloom, mature, and grow.

May

It is finally here, the month I have been dreading and waiting for.

My son will be graduating this month. Despite his procrastination and grades that are less than satisfactory, I think he is going to pull it off.

Alex has finally matured enough that I think he is going to be fine without us. He told me this week, that although he doesn’t say it often enough, he is going to really miss us and that he appreciates everything we’ve done for him. He also said that although he doesn’t spend a lot of time with us that he doesn’t want us to take it personally that he is leaving. He said that it is time for him to be an independent man now. I agreed. I told him that it was normal to want to leave home once you are an adult.

I am letting go and he is planning on leaving. He told me he isn’t planning on leaving the area anytime soon and will probably visit us a lot. That made me feel happy since my son is not the type to share these things.

Next month Alex is planning on moving out.

This month Angel will be coming home from college. But this summer she is not planning on staying with us like she previously did. She just put in an application for an apartment and is planning on staying here until she can move in. She will live 4 hours away.

Two out of three kids are planning on leaving home for good next month. I will be happy and sad to see them go. It is bittersweet.

We still have Arabella at home. She will be 16 this month.

We are also planning on filling the void by getting a foreign exchange student. Estelle from France will be moving in the beginning of August.

A new adventure awaits!

Some April Fool’s Day joke

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Yes, it’s snowing again! I told my husband this morning that it was supposed to snow today. He said nice try, I do realize it is April Fool’s Day. But I wasn’t joking.

I decided not to play any pranks this year. Maybe I am getting old. I was just not feeling it. Plus I couldn’t think of anything great that I didn’t already previously do.

Sometimes life can be a big enough joke and today was one of those days.

In February, I had a meeting scheduled with the dean of students to talk about Alex’s graduation. I was feeling very positive after the meeting although I was feeling very negative going into it. We came up with a plan that involved a lot of choices on Alex’s part. I thought it was a great plan and I was feeling more positive than I was in a very long time.

Alex applied at the local tech college for this fall. He got a job working in retail. Some days he has to be at work on the weekends at the crack of dawn or work late on a Saturday night. Things have been going great. I’ve even noticed a greater effort on his part to get up earlier and be to school on time. Until this morning, that is.

I was worried that I would be getting a call from the school and I did. But it wasn’t the type of call I was expecting. I received a call from the school saying Alex didn’t even show up today. I was really confused since things seemed to have turned around so wonderfully. I even asked the secretary if it was some kind of April Fool’s Day joke. I also received an email from the school counselor saying that my son would also be dropped from a class if his absence was unexcused.

I was stressing. Now I am not so sure my son will be graduating next month.

I tried to get a hold of my son to no avail. I was feeling very worried and upset. I told my husband what was going on and he could tell from my expression that it wasn’t a joke. We blamed each other, argued a bit, and then came up with a fairly solid game plan.

My son texted me back a while later. He was in a dead zone when I called. He said that he got an excuse from a teacher to work on a group project. He would straighten everything out with the school later. Why didn’t he just tell us that ahead of time??

The April Fool’s Day joke was on me. The strange thing is that nobody really was playing the joke.

Cha cha changes

  

I just got a hair cut. Seven inches of golden tresses fell to the floor. They were swept up and thrown away. Gone.

My life is changing. I have no control. I just turned another year older. My daughter will be an adult this week.

I still have control over some things, like my hair. I haven’t had my hair this short for over a decade. What was I waiting for?

I took half a day off on Friday to get my hair done. After the hair cut, I felt stressed because things were out of control at work while I was gone. In the matter of two hours, I had 5 voicemail messages and my email was blowing up with problems at work. Big time Tetris. I find it harder and harder to take any time off because I end up paying for it later.

Then I ran into someone that I know. She said she was not doing well because her husband lost his job. That really put things into perspective for me. I have a job. We can pay our bills. This business is going to pay off big time. I just have to make sure the stress doesn’t kill me first.

We had our daughter’s graduation party this weekend. I spent the rest of the afternoon on Friday running errands for the party and preparing food. The party itself went great. The event was rather uneventful which was really good. We had enough food and drinks. The weather was great. It wasn’t too hot or too cold. It didn’t rain. Really, what more could we ask for?? I admit, I had a lot of anxiety beforehand. This was the first party that I planned with so many people attending. Seriously, what was I worried about? Everything turned out.  

We had the party up north at the family cabin. Everyone pulled through to prepare and help clean up which I really appreciated. So many family and friends offered to bring food. 

Alex brought up his new girlfriend to meet the family. Now that he has his license he can drive the old moped that is up there. He gladly drove to the gas station for ice and whatever was needed. I am afraid though that he drove it too fast. He wants to get a motorcycle someday. Oh, that kid is going to be the death of me yet!

Angel had a great party. I am sad that she grew up so fast. She was so much fun to raise. Next month she is leaving to start her own life. I feel happy and sad at the same time. So many aspects of my life are changing. I don’t have control over time. But I do have control over my hair. Well, most of the time anyway.

Graduation day


This past weekend, it happened. My oldest child grew up and graduated from high school. It was a very busy weekend with a whirlwind of activity which I am sure to write about in the next couple of days.

I just wanted to let you know that I made it through the whole graduation ceremony without crying. Phew! I started the day by putting on lots of black eye makeup. I told myself that I can’t cry because I would look like a raccoon for the pictures. So we took this before picture just in case. Then both Paul and Angel admonished me in advance about not taking too many pictures. I admit I am rather trigger happy when it comes to taking pictures of important events.

During the graduation, the choir sang a very touching song. The mothers in front of me were recording it and crying. Paul nudged me several times about getting out in front and taking pictures. I didn’t want to cut off the crying moms. I also felt rather irritated with Paul bugging me about taking pictures when he said earlier not to go overboard. Although, it ended up being a blessing since it probably stopped me from sobbing my eyes out.

I did my fair share of crying over graduation the past couple of weeks.

I decided to make a conscious effort to be happy for Angel. She has such a promising future ahead of her. That is something to be happy and excited about, not to mope and cry about. But bets were placed anyway whether or not I would cry.

The great news was that all of Angel’s grandparents were able to make it to the graduation. We were very surprised to see Martha there. She decided to skip her chemo appointment in order to make sure that she felt good enough to go. She realized how important it was to Angel to be there. I am thankful for that!

Afterwards, we had a small pizza party at our house to celebrate. It was a very nice day!

Graduation anticipation

Today I want to talk some more about graduation. Eons ago, when I graduated from high school, we had to sit a couple of hours in a warm stinky gym. The mothers cried while the teens rejoiced in their new found freedom. We listened to someone talk for what seemed like hours in a monotone voice (of course!) saying something about this being the first day of the rest of our lives…blah, blah, blah… Now let’s get out of this school and on with our lives. We knew it all already. Why do we need someone telling us what to do? Graduation lasted for a few hours for one day. You’d think that some things, like graduation ceremonies, never change. Right? Nope.

For the last several weeks now we have been celebrating graduation with the seniors. It started out with the senior tea, which was really a mother-daughter banquet for the senior girls. No, we didn’t even drink a lick of tea. We did watch the jazz choir perform. Then between that and all of the other pre-graduation events, we had a slew of the last of everything. The last choir concert where we said good bye to the seniors. Last, last, last, last, last..

Then there was the senior scholarship banquet. Thankfully, Angel applied for many scholarships and received a few since the college she selected is far from cheap. Then last night there was the senior banquet for the parents and their graduate. We had a meal followed by the class picks. Angel was picked as the most musical in her class. Then we watched a slide presentation of pictures from over the senior year. The slide presentation went very fast before we could even focus on the images we were seeing. It went almost as fast as the senior year. Then they had baby pictures followed by senior pictures. ***Insert tears here*** 

What happened next floored me. They filmed showing the graduates items that they had to identify such as a fax machine, a pager, a camera with a flash bulb tower, and a floppy disc. The seniors could not identify the items. Really, where did the time go?? Then they had teachers close to my age answer questions. They asked, “What is a bae?” Apparently, it is not a large body of water. What is a tinder? Apparently not kindling to start a fire. I leaned over and asked Angel what a tinder was again. She said it was a hook up site. Hhmmm, a hook up to kindle a fire?  Certainly not. I can’t even imagine online dating. I have never felt so old!

The events over the past several week have been confusing. Sometimes we had to dress up, sometimes it was casual, and sometimes they had to wear their caps and gowns. I never could figure out what to wear. This morning was the award ceremony. Apparently this event required a cap and gown but Angel not know that. She drove 20 minutes to school and realized that she needed it. She called home upset saying that she wouldn’t be able to graduate. Angel started driving back home but was almost out of gas with no money. Paul ended up running her cap and gown to the school early since I didn’t even take a shower yet or get my dress clothes on. Yikes! It all worked out in the end.

On the way to the award ceremony, I had the radio on. I heard the song Rumpshaker that was popular when I was Angel’s age. Tears threatened to erupt from my eyes once more. Over the stupid song Rumpshaker! Geez. I was thinking about how old I was feeling. Hearing an old song made me think of the time that I thought I knew everything. I realize now that I am old and still don’t know anything. My eyes started watering, but I couldn’t have raccoon eyes before I even got to the school. Get a grip!

The awards ceremony lasted several hours. I sat next to the valedictorian’s mother. The valedictorian’s parents are both doctors. She was picked as the most likely to succeed. She earned 75% of the awards. She has a brilliant I’m going to find the cure for cancer mind. Angel won a few awards too. She received the top music student award. She has an incredible record for music performance including earning 3 exemplary awards at state. You can only earn that award for solos that have a perfect score. Angel earned 3 awards, a new record for the school. The valedictorian’s mother leaned over and congratulated me on my daughter’s success. I was shocked at her kindness since her daughter received more awards than she could carry. 

Now after having half my calendar booked this month with pre-graduation events, the big event is this weekend. I am sure that a few parents will be crying in relief that it is finally over. Did I just say that?? Not to mention the kids having finals this week and having countless graduation practices. Tomorrow is graduation cap and gown practice and pictures. Then a summer of endless graduation parties. I still have a few invites to send out, pictures to find, and a party to plan. Okay, maybe graduation does not end after graduation…

Today my neighbors brought their newborn baby home from the hospital. It seems like yesterday that I was doing the same.

Back to the present

Today I struggled with what to write. I want to go back to my autism series that I started earlier this month but so much is happening in my life right now. How can I talk about the past when the present is exciting, here, and almost gone?? I will finish it though. With the marathon last weekend and my first child’s graduation this weekend, I have a thousand thoughts and emotions running through my head. And it all has to fit into one post per day that should contain an average of 500 words. Lol.

Last night, Paul and I decided to call our parents to try to convince them into going to Angel’s graduation. I called my dad and asked him directly if he was going. Now I typically call my dad twice a year, on his birthday and on Father’s Day. So it was a big deal that I was calling him. He seemed happy to hear from me. He told me that Angel was a nice and good girl. He said that he was planning on going to her graduation. I was floored. Then he even asked me how my marathon went. I was shocked that the whole conversation was very positive.

Then I walked out of my bedroom to find that things didn’t go quite as well with Paul and his mom. Martha was on the phone with Angel saying that she wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t be able to make it. But this time she is really sick. So sick that she couldn’t make it in to her chemo appointment yesterday. I believe that she is really sick this time. But I liken it to the story of the boy that called wolf. Martha has been calling wolf so many times over the past several years that now my mind finds it had to believe that there is a wolf.

But there is a wolf. Martha has terminal cancer, the big devouring wolf. A few weeks ago, Martha was going to go with me to see Angel perform her solo and ensemble pieces at state. Martha was supposed to be at my house by nine. I waited around until 11:00, Martha didn’t show up or call. By that time I had already missed half of Angel’s performances. At 11, Paul called his mom and she was still at home an hour away from our house. She wasn’t feeling good enough to go but didn’t bother to call. She was going to try to make it out to eat with us later that evening for Mother’s Day.

I knew that Martha was sick. But it still brought up all of those old feelings that I had towards her for standing up my kids. I was very angry and hurt. I drove fast to get to the remainder of Angel’s events. I was pissed that I wasn’t there to support Angel when I told her I would be there to watch her. Then I even started to feel a little guilty that I was angry with my mother-in-law who is dying. So I have become tolerant. I have repressed the years of resentment, hurt, and anger.

It is hard because now I think that Martha might want to go to Angel’s graduation. But it is too late now. She should have gone to more things when she was able to. She should have been the involved grandparent then. Now it is much too late.

 

Time to move on

The marathon is over, now it is time to move on to next weekend’s big event. Graduation! My daughter will be graduating from high school. I think that I finally accepted the fact that she is ready to move on with her life without us. Over the past couple of weeks we attended her last school play, a musical that she was in, state solo and ensemble, and her last choir concert crying a little along the way. Last, last, last, and last. I don’t want to be sad about this anymore! I want to be excited about all of her new adventures in life. First, first, new, new, new..

Throughout the last several years, my mom, Paul, and I have supported Angel though all of her events. Last night Angel expressed some sadness over the fact that some classmates have two rows of family come to support them. At her last choir concert, Angel had several solos with only 3 family members there to cheer her on.

She is worried that her grandparents won’t even come to her graduation. Besides my mom, I don’t think that her other grandparents will go either unless we try hard to convince them.

My dad volunteered to work at a food stand this whole weekend. If he can do that, I am sure he could take off an hour to see his granddaughter graduate. When I mentioned attending graduation to my mother-in-law she said that she probably couldn’t afford to go. She can’t afford to drive a half an hour to her grandchild’s (free) special event? Pathetic!

Year after year, we listened to lame excuses for not attending the parties/events of our children. I don’t feel good, it is too hot outside, it is too cold, it might snow, it’s raining, I don’t have money, my car broke down, I have a casino trip planned with the girls, I can’t take off of work, I had to go shopping but I will stop by after your event, my water heater broke and I couldn’t take a shower, etc… This has been very hurtful.

My dad isn’t any better. He doesn’t make lame excuses, he just doesn’t go.

But how can we expect our parents to be good grandparents when they weren’t good parents? It is very disappointing. They can blow off all the other events, but I think a graduation is a big deal. I am planning on giving my dad a call and Paul is going to call his mom and step-dad in an attempt to try to convince them that they should go.

We’ll see what happens. If they decide not to go after we tell them how important it is for them to be there, I am ready to write them all out of my life…

We really shouldn’t have to try to convince our parents to attend our daughter’s graduation, should we??

Tomorrow…quiet, relaxing…marathon..

Tomorrow I’m running a marathon…quiet, relaxing weekend…seeing the musical Chicago this afternoon…quiet, relaxing…Tomorrow I’m running a marathon!…graduation gift for Angel…sipping wine…relaxing evening…Tomorrow I’m running a marathon!!…taking her out to eat at a nice restaurant…Tomorrow I’m running a marathon!!!…quiet, relaxing weekend…

TOMORROW I”M RUNNING A MARATHON!!! Now what did I get myself into?? Probably not a quiet, relaxing weekend. But exciting, yes it will be that…