Tag Archives: graduation

Graduation Day: Nobody Warned Me

Today is my children’s graduation day. Yes – both of my wee babes will wear caps and gowns and will graduate tonight. The how and why of how two kids born a year apart now graduate on the same day can be subject of another post or a private conversation for those who want to know. The bottom line is that they…both…graduate…tonight…

At the beginning of the year, they took a photo a day to document "my senior year" with them. Beth got sick mid-year, and the project sort of ended abruptly when she stopped going to school on  regular basis.

At the beginning of the year, they took a photo a day to document “my senior year” with them. Beth got sick mid-year, and the project sort of ended abruptly when she stopped going to school on regular basis.

My heart is full for them. Tonight, they will speak as the welcome speakers – together – at the ceremony. This summer, they will engage in jobs and internships that will prepare them in ways yet to be known. In the fall, they will both attend Baylor University – far from home, far from me, but full of opportunity. Their paths are in front of them, guided by God as they ask Him to guide. And I could not be happier about who they are today.

But my heart is breaking for me.

Some parents do not seem to have the same problems that I am having, but there are many of us who are. This is our first go around with this crazy graduation thing, and we are lost. We like our kids, and we have raised them to be people with whom we would like to spend more time than with some adults we know. We are thrilled for them – and even at times can’t wait for them to be out of the house because of the inevitable power struggles that happen at this time – but we really just want to swaddle them up in those receiving blankets from the hospital and place them back in the bassinets next to our beds.

And I am upset that nobody warned me of this whole crazy thing when I was in health class learning where babies come from.

I wrote that exact sentiment earlier this year to a friend as I shared with her that the boy now has a girlfriend and that I was getting to know his girlfriend’s mom. While I like the boy’s girlfriend and think that being friends with her mom is brilliant (in fact, I asked  her to be my chaperone buddy tonight at the all night party after graduation, and she said, “yes!”), I had no idea that it would happen some day. And I think that, more than the biology of how to make the babies happen, someone should warn you that some day you will find yourself in this state of jumbled feelings that makes it harder to think clearly about important things…like what to have for supper and what kind of ice cream is your favorite.

I don’t know! Can’t you see that my kids are graduating tonight? Please…don’t ask me any hard questions!

In the end, I doubt that anyone’s warnings would have mattered, and what good would they have done really?

Preparing oneself for a future grief rarely works. In fact, grief by its very nature is not predictable. We cannot prepare ourselves entirely for hard times in the future because experience seems to be different for each of us. How you handle your kids graduating may be very different from the I handle my kids graduating, and that is just fine.

So, fellow parents, let us go into this graduation season with some reminders to help us get through it.

  1. We are all in this together. I mean this! We may not have relied on each other up to this point, but we should rely on each other now. Sharing our grief lightens the load…and sharing with others who experience the same process may help us out.
  2. It is alright to cry. If you cry at the ceremony, do not hide it…whether they are tears of joy or tears of grief, they need to be shed (ask the biology kids about how tear shedding is important for your health!).
  3. We must not compare our worlds to each others’ worlds. Our houses do not have to be perfect. Your graduation party food does not have to be better than your neighbor’s food. My hair does not have to be perfect. Comparing ourselves to others robs us of our present joy.
  4. We must live in the moment. I need to get someone else to take pictures at graduation so that I can just live in the moment of the ceremony. Rather than recording the great times, I want to live in them.
  5. We have done our best; now it is their turn to live their own lives. At our house, we have a saying, “God loves you, and Stacy has a PLAN for your life.” While this stems from the fact that I like to help others discover their passions and jobs that go with those passions, it might be true that I like to meddle in my kids’ lives. I need to step back, be available when they want help, and let them lead.

This is a standing stone in our lives as parents. As many of us are going through picture albums in preparation for parties or to create books, we are seeing other standing stones in our lives. This one may be bigger than some in the past, but it is certainly not the last. We are not giving up our parent hat, but that hat is changing. We have had to be flexible as our kids have grown, and that need will continue as they grow into young adults and beyond.

Parenting is never over, but this particular chapter in our lives as parents of these particular children is over. As we grieve that ending, let us remember (and remind each other as many who have gone down this path have reminded me this year), that our parenting will change and that there are beautiful times ahead in the coming years.

Happy Graduation to the Class of 2014…and their parents!


Filed under Education, Parenting, Relationships, Thoughts

It Really is Madness!

Those readers who know me personally know that a big event is coming up in my family’s world – both of my babes graduate from high school in June.

Though nothing could have prepared me for the feelings I have experienced over the past twelve months as we have visited Baylor University, applied to Baylor University, and bend accepted to Baylor University, I have enjoyed walking this “last year” road with them.

From time to time, my Facebook pasts have revealed how my insides churn with fear, sadness, and maybe even a twinge of guilt for the time I have squandered over the past seventeen or eighteen years. To balance that, though, there have been the “proud mom” posts as well as the adorable daily photos that they were taking for me.

Being the mom of two high school seniors is madness!

And because madness is a theme in March…and because Baylor will likely have a team in the March Madness world…and because I like to be in the know about sports and other social conventions, I decided that this would be the year to investigate this March Madness bracket world.

I have done a little investigating into these terms and processes, so I am now an expert because I used the internet – Google and Wikipedia – of course, my Facebook network, and – most importantly – Tony Mueller as my sources to develop “Stacy’s Guide to March Madness.”

Important things we should all know:
-64 teams start out
-single elimination takes it down by half in each round
-Sweet 16=remaining 16 teams
-Elite 8=remaining 8 teams
-Final 4=I bet you can guess what that means!
-National Championship: one team is a winner, and the other is shamed.

Brackets: there are lots of ways to get into a bracket competition. It is best to find someone who knows what they are doing to lead this, but just about anyone can join in.

My bracket involvement is going to be through Paladin Sports, a youth sports nonprofit for underprivileged youth in Arizona. I have an interview scheduled with a representative from there and plan to write a post entirely about them!

The important thing to know is that you should sign up no later than 3/15 because 3/16 (aka Selection Sunday) is when brackets become available. The Paladin Sports bracketing is through CBS, and it seems like “they” do all of the work of tallying points for you. So – pick your teams and then engage as little or as much as you would like to do.

I want to give a huge shout out to a few supportive people:
1. The huz – for having the best bracket selection technique suggestion
2. The babes – for mocking me a bit in all of this
3. Tony Mueller – for laughing at me in a way that did not make me feel dumb while he shared his important knowledge
4. Baylor University – for accepting my kids and having an awesome mascot… Sic’em, Bears!
5. My dad Rick – for raising me with a working knowledge of most sports
6. Paladin Sports – for providing a bracket option that supports a good cause…it makes this all so much more fun!

Because the Paladin Sports bracket stuff is a fundraiser, I bought three brackets. Why not? I plan to employ three different methods (none of which, by the way, were those suggested by my Facebook friends). Once bracket selection stuff (like that technical term?) is over, I will share my methods.

Stay tuned…so much more madness to come!

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The First College Tour

Yesterday was a huge day in my life as a mom.

We went on our first college tour as a family.

This week is spring break for my kiddos, and we made the long drive to Waco, TX, to visit family and to tour Baylor University.  The drive was a blast, and our trip has been great.

I need to clarify: both of my children will graduate next year.  Because of the strange way that our family has lived out its life, our kiddos are in the same grade even though they are a year apart by age.  While this has many benefits, I can see how the nest emptying out all in one graduation moment could have its difficulties (for me).

My kids growing up has been great, but it has been hard as well.  And this whole “college thing” just makes it even more real. There is nothing like being on a college tour to help you realize that time is flying by.

Step back for a minute….

The girl had visited Baylor University in August when she flew in to visit family.  I could not believe that she had gone on her first college tour without me.  She went with her aunt.  It was heart-breaking.  I’m a guidance counselor. And I’m her mother!

I gulped hard and was happy for her while at the same time I hurt for me.  She was so proud, as we took the tour yesterday, to tell us how much she already knew.

Letting her do the tour without me was just one of many huge steps to come.

And our tour yesterday was another example of a huge step.  I trailed behind the tour guide, did not ask a ton of questions, and was not “that parent” on the tour.  I am quite sure that the boy was happy about this as he thinks I am “that parent” on just about every occasion possible.

As I rode the tour bus, it dawned on me that there is no turning back.  They are in the midst of deciding the next step in their lives, and – though I can say what I want – the decision really must be theirs.

And this step will determine the course of their lives.

It is a big deal.

And I felt that big deal most of yesterday.  I felt it all…

I realize that this is something that I have to get used to feeling – a loss that isn’t a loss yet, a future on its way, and a whole new stage of parenting.  The way I parent today prepares them for this future, but I have to accept that the new stage is on its way and will change how we interact with each other in the next few years.

Yesterday was just part of the continuum, and it is all going fast.

Too fast.

In my mind, I can still see the cute little people who stood – in their cute little uniforms – in front of our flat’s door in  Edinburgh, Scotland, on their first day of school in 2001.

And yesterday they walked across the Baylor University campus as if they were ready to stay and participate.

What made yesterday so awesome?

  1. The kids had prepared by looking at the website a lot.
  2. The kids had looked at several other university and college websites so that they were able to make comparisons.
  3. We knew people in the area and at the school.
  4. The school gave the kids free t-shirts (you think I’m kidding? I’m not!).
  5. I tried to let them lead rather than to take control of the situation (note: tried).

I will spend the next eighteen months trying to let them lead rather than to take control of the situation….and that started yesterday…

If you have a junior in high school, how are you doing? If you have kiddos who have graduated, what was the most helpful in the college search?  What has been the hardest thing about your kids growing up?


Filed under Parenting, Relationships, Travel

Lord, Be With Them

Graduation season in Minnesota seems to be nearing its end.  While the graduation open houses will continue through to the end of this month, most ceremonies have occurred.  As the graduates go on to their next steps, hope and dreams of all who have raised them are high.  However high our dreams are for them, their futures are out of our hands.  Although we can do our best to create networking moments, the truly best thing we can do for them is to pray earnestly.

Lord, be with them…

Last night I attended a gathering for a bride-to-be.  She and her groom-to-be are lovely and will likely have a lovely life together.  However, we all know that life has its own path, and sometimes that path is bumpy.  We cannot protect each other from the bumps, but we can be with each other on those bumps – providing encouragement along the way.  At one point during the evening, those gathered surrounded the bride-to-be and lifted her up in prayer.  The common thread of the prayers earnestly asked for the same thing.

Lord, be with them…

My daughter left this morning for day one of an occupational therapy internship with a program that provides services to those with special needs.  She has to drive a new route, will meet new people, and will have new experiences.  As her mom, I have created her experiences up to this point.  Though I had a hand in finding this one, she has done the grunt work and has made this a reality.  Today is a new day in my life as mom – one of the many to come – where I let the kids go off to jobs of their choices doing tasks that they choose.  And I am left at home doing the the only thing I can – praying.

Lord, be with them….

Though the situations are each different and point to situations out of our control, the principal remains the same.  And as I write this, I am being reminded that prayer is not only for others but can also be for me – by others as well as by me.

As I look ahead to the rest of Friday, filled with fun as well as unknowns, I whisper a silent request to the One who hears and responds.

Lord, be with me…

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Filed under Education, faith, Parenting

Graduation: Online School Style

It is June in Minnesota.  This means that weekends are filled predominately with fishing, graduations, and graduation parties.

For the past nine years, I have worked at Minnesota high schools which means that I have now been through nine graduation ceremonies – with seven of them being online school graduations.

It may shock readers to find out that graduation ceremonies are pretty traditional even in the non-traditional setting such as the online school setting.  Students have the option to physically attend a ceremony, and many choose to do so.   They wear black robes, they walk down an aisle as Pomp and Circumstance plays, and they endure speeches by adults.

On Saturday, I assisted in the execution of a special online school’s graduation.


Sixty-eight of the 200+ graduating class from MTS-Minnesota Virtual High School enjoyed their big day in the the Minneapolis Convention Center.  With their 600+ audience, they fulfilled their last high school obligation.

It was just like any other graduation in that there were diplomas and speeches and pictures – oh my!

But what was different was that this group of students had probably not met each other in person before that day. They had come from all over the state of Minnesota – some farther than others. In fact, as their names were read, tidbits of who these kids are was also shared.

Many of the students chose this type of learning because they wants a faster or slower pace than the traditional classroom.

Many of the students chose this type of learning because a health situation required an alternate schedule.

Many of the students chose this type of learning because it allowed them to parent their children.

Many of the students chose this type of learning because, for one reason or another, they needed to work – many of them at full-time jobs.

With each name that was read, a bit of their story was shared.  But…there was so much more about each of them that could have been shared, and I wish that we would have had time to do that.

Having school choice never seems more important than when a room full of graduates  share why they needed school choice and what that choice has allowed them accomplish.  I am thankful that I live in a state that has these opportunities for its students.

Both of the student speakers shared about having hopes and dreams for their futures; however, more than that, they emphasized the fact that they did not thing those dreams would be possible had they not found Minnesota Virtual High School.

I hope that all students can find the school that is the right fit for them, that they can flourish in that setting, and that they can make their dreams of a high school education a reality.

Happy Graduation to the Class of 2012!

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Filed under Education

Out of Things to Say?

Recently one of my blog followers emailed me with a question that seriously stroked my ego quite a bit.

“Are you taking a break from blogging?”

At first, I thought, “Well, no!”

And then I had to consider the fact that it had been a solid week between blog posts.

So maybe the answer is, “Yes!”

But that answer is unsettling also…because I am not taking an active break from blogging; I just haven’t blogged much.

This follower’s question was not the first that I had about my lapse in blogging, but to be honest with everyone….I have felt as thought I have little left to say lately.

After April with its pneumonia visit and then May with its weird cardiac-like health visit that turned out to be nothing but a chemical imbalance (albeit a dangerous one), my brain is tired. 

Perhaps the bipolar low energy has come to hover over my brain?

Whatever the case may be, I seem to have energy to get through the day, give time to those in require it, and then I need to sleep.  Writing – let’s face it – ranting is exhausting. The exercise of it is such a good thing, but it is tiring.

Perhaps this lack of writing is due to the verbal (written) vomit of thousands of words in the form of bullying content for ParentFurther’s website?


Maybe I’m just having a mellow time…

I am not done blogging.

I have lots to say – whether anyone wants to read it or not!

So…if you are faithful reader, I thank you.  Please do not abandon this!  I will be back, but I don’t know with how much frequency or with how much fervor just yet.

I am considering having some guest posts…so if you have been playing with the thought of blogging, but the whole thing is overwhelming and you’ve thought, “Perhaps I should try it”…give me a holler.  Perhaps you should write something fun, and we’ll post it here.

Happy Saturday – who is going to graduation parties or ceremonies this weekend? 

Speaking of graduation, I need to thank Ashley from the West Central Tribune in Minnesota for using a blog posting of a grad speech I gave two years ago as a printed article last week.  I was so honored.

Click here for the online version of the article.

Click here for the original which was posted on my blog.

ps: My daughter had a GREAT idea for grad invites.  She thinks they should include the menu so that attendees can determine the order of party attendance based on the menus of the parties.  What do you think?

Ok, really – have a great day!  Smile


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Filed under Education, Thoughts