Y’all, I’m just glad I don’t have a high school senior graduating this year. I went through that “fun” last year, and honestly, it was exhausting. I know. I know. Lots of people love it. As a southern lady, I’m supposed to enjoy it, but I don’t.
In my opinion, there are two kinds of people in the world: the ones who love ceremonies and those who hate ceremonies. I belong in the latter group. Just like I hate meetings for meeting’s sake, I hate ceremony for ceremony’s sake. I am the person who skipped my own college graduation. Yes, I graduated from college, but I just didn’t feel the need to participate in the “pomp and circumstance.” It seemed so time-consuming, ridiculously formal, and honestly, a little bit corny. While some of my friends were participating in the ceremony, I was hanging out with other friends at our favorite watering hole…raising toasts to each other for getting the job done! Even when I got married, I wondered why we were making it into a spectacle? Why couldn’t we just get married at the courthouse and go on about our business? I didn’t lol need an audience to see me get married. I would have been just as married without the audience. It was a source of great tension for me, and honestly, as grateful as I am to my friends and family who were there, I would have rather gone to the courthouse.
My attitude toward all things “ceremonial” is why I could hardly wait for my daughter’s high school graduation to be over last year. It seemed like “much ado about nothing” to me. Here’s my stance on high school graduation: you’re supposed to graduate from high school. It’s not some grand accomplishment, except under special circumstances. Yes, there are situations in which high school graduation is a big deal, but my daughter graduating from a college preparatory private school in Charlotte, North Carolina? Well, the way I see it: she was supposed to graduate. But all the ceremonies? Senior supper? Baccalaureate? And more? I could have skipped them. I wouldn’t have been heartbroken if she had said, “Let’s leave for vacation early and blow this popsicle stand.” She did enjoy the private parties leading up to and after the event, and I did too, so there were some good things about it…getting to spend time with friends, having a reason to get together, etc. I do love a party, just not a ceremony.
However, I guess I’m in the minority on this, because it seems lots of people get very wrapped up in the graduation ceremony thing.
Today, on Facebook, a friend was posting pictures of her second child in his graduation gown. He’ll be graduating from high school in a few weeks, and she is sad to see the end of his high school career. That’s another way I’m different: I didn’t let the door hit me in the butt on the way out of my daughter’s high school. I was so grateful it was over! I was running as fast as I could! I was ready for that to end. But here’s what I wondered after seeing my friend’s post: How do parents muster up the excitement for their second, third, and fourth children’s graduation? I feel like I learned so much the first time around, and I feel like it would be even less of a big deal to me the second and third times, but since I’m the mother of an only child, I might be wrong?!?
Here’s what I mean: with your first child, many parents think every single stage of childhood is important. If I had a second and third child, I can tell you, I would be much more relaxed about elementary school…and maybe even middle school. Don’t get me wrong. I was never the mom who knew what her child’s assignments were…ever. I always thought school was her job, not mine, but it was very important to me that she take elementary school and middle school seriously. Maybe that’s why I have one child. Maybe God knew I’d be a slacker about school stuff with any subsequent children. I feel sure I would have said, “She doesn’t have any random days off from school in October? Eh…doesn’t matter; she’s only in second grade. We’ll take that long vacation in the middle of the school year anyway.” I actually remember sending her to school in kindergarten or 1st grade with a terrible cough. I thought it was important for her to be there. I received a call from the school nurse, with whom I had become friends, telling me to “come get your daughter.” When I got there to pick her up, I explained to the nurse that it was just a residual cough from a cold she had the previous week. She didn’t feel badly. The nurse said, “Keep her home until that cough is gone.” And I did, but I sweated it a little bit, thinking elementary school was so important. You know what the nurse, who had grown children of her own, knew that I didn’t know? My daughter would be OK even if she missed a week or two of elementary school.
Also, with a second or third child, I likely would have rarely volunteered for anything. It’s likely I would have thought, “My work is done. I’ve done all this once; I’m not doing it again.” Would people have thought my second and third children were motherless children? Maybe, but anyone who had any older kids would have known I had done more than my share the first time around. I was room mother almost every year of lower school. I volunteered everywhere I possibly could. If I’d had second and third children, I might have just slowed down outside the school and pushed them out the car door as I drove off to meet my friends for brunch with Mimosas. Not really, of course, but you get my point.
To all you parents who have children graduating from high school this year: Congratulations. If you don’t have anymore children who still need to graduate from high school, I say, “Congratulations on earning your freedom!” I don’t mean freedom from your child. I mean freedom from the constraints that school puts on your life. And if you enjoy all the “pomp and circumstance” that goes with the whole graduation thing, more power to you! Lots of my friends love every minute of it.
There’s a reason they do all those various ceremonies, but it’s not for people like me!
Also, if you have a child or children leaving for college in the fall, start gathering dorm essentials now. Here are some things I recommend to make move-in a little easier:
Hulken Bag. I ordered two. My daughter has one at college, and I have one at home, but I will take mine down with me when we move her out. They simply make moving lots of items easier. We got large ones. Get them here.
Moving Bags. These are similar to the Ikea moving bags, but I ordered from Amazon, because I thought these were a little bigger and sturdier. They worked great for move-in, and I expect them to work great for move-out too! Get them here. (Keep in mind: these sell out during summer, as families stock up on them, so get yours early.)
Collapsible Wagon. We got one of these for our daughter when she was returning to college after the holidays. It was an easy way for her to get everything from the parking garage to her room. Get it here.
Versacart. This is one my aunt told me about, and it’s awesome! She calls it her “old lady cart,” but it does the job! Get it here.