After years of mental and emotional preparation, the day was finally here – my son’s graduation. “I Did It!” is a common thread during a high school graduation ceremony. It is usually on the mind of most, if not all, of the graduates.
And as the mom of one of the graduates, it was also on my mind.
I did it!!
No, I wasn’t celebrating the fact that I successfully raised another human being to the point of adulthood. I am not done yet. My job is not over.
I did it – I made it through my son’s graduation ceremony without bawling like a big baby. Sure, I shed a few tears. I had to reign my emotions in more than once. But I did not bawl uncontrollably, so hard that I had to choke back actual vocalized sobs, coughing on spittle and hiding my eyes, because I couldn’t be trusted to look at anyone without breaking out another round.
Was I worried I’d be that bad? Yes, I was.
I was way too free with my emotions at my little brother’s graduation, a few years ago. I had absolutely no control what-so-ever. I sobbed. Hiccupped. I had raccoon eyes. I was a crying, bumbling mess. I am the oldest; he is the youngest. He was born when I was 16. I had an emotional attachment to him similar to what a mother would, not a sister. His graduation was hard on me. And, I was 8 months pregnant. So I am excused.
At my son’s graduation, I could not be such a mess. This was a happy day for him. I did not want his memories to be that of consoling and caring for his wreck of a mother. I wanted him to look back and remember the time with his friends and classmates. His mom should barely register in his memories.
So I was bound and determined to get through it. And I did it!
I had distractions, of course. Three of them. Pint-sized and absolutely adorable. They were perfect.
As long as my mind was distracted, and I couldn’t dwell on what was actually happening, I didn’t cry. I made it through his speech. I made it through everyone else’s speeches. I struggled with the songs, though. The music caught the attention of my little ones. They liked it, and they sat quietly. This, of course, gave me time to think about what was going on. My son sang with some of his classmates. He hasn’t performed in a concert of any kind since he was in the 6th grade. That song brought back a flood of fun memories, and it was hard. But I made it.
My biggest fear was that I would break down during the slideshow. There is something about music and photos that gets me every time. He promised me there would be no sad music – no songs like “You’re Gonna Miss This…”. I don’t even remember what songs did play.
I barely saw the slide show at all. As soon as the lights went off, and the first cheer let loose (someone whoops and hollers on every photo) Baby B lost it. It scared him and he cried. Baby B is easily comforted and distracted, however. Baby A was the problem. Baby A is not so easily distracted or consoled. Once he grabs on to an idea, he does not let go. And he cried as soon as he got wind of his brother’s cries.
I spent the whole slide show trying to comfort and distract a screaming child. He would stiffen his body until he was a rigid board, laying across my arms, so that I couldn’t snuggle him up in to me. He screamed and cried his horrible, fire siren cry. He chewed me out in baby babble (okay, that one is kind of funny!) and he constantly pointed towards the door.
People around me probably thought I was the worst mother ever. Here was a baby that appeared to be afraid of the dark, the cheers, the music, or something, and he obviously wanted to leave, and I wouldn’t let him. Oh, but they don’t know my little Baby A. He is not only fearless, but stubborn. He wasn’t afraid. He cried because his brother cried. He was mad because he wasn’t getting his way. And once he starts crying, he can’t calm himself down very well. If I would have given in, and walked out with him, he is the kind of kid who would take note of that, and use it to his advantage in church, at the grocery store, at the restaurant….anywhere he didn’t want to be. I wasn’t about to start that.
And there was no way I was missing my son’s graduation.
So I put up with it. And so did everyone around me. And I made it through the slide show with absolutely no tears. As soon as the music stopped, and the lights came on, Baby A turned off the tears and sat nicely through the rest of the ceremony.
I was happy for my son when he received his diploma. I was happy for all of his friends. And I was thankful for my little Baby A – he gave me exactly what I needed, right when I needed it most.
I did it! I made it through my son’s graduation.
The Moral of the Story: Never Underestimate the Power of Distraction.
(And consider having another baby (or borrowing one!) when your son or daughter graduates.)