Friday, June 8, 2012

My man-child has graduated!

This graduation was particularly emotional for me. Life has lately been a whirl of ups and downs as we work through raising several teens at the same time, dealing with the attitude, ingratitude, judgements and even joys of the teen territory. However, it was my goal to step out of that zone and be ever present with my son in celebrating his first graduation!

With two days off, I excitedly packed bags, charged the camera battery, swooped my grandson (his mommy asked if I could take him with me, as she had to work), headed over to nab Rebekah from her job and took my place in line in the sea of traffic (really, right on time for the 4:30 rush!).

Great-grandma watched Jayden while Bek, Stephen and I headed out for a most delicious dinner at an enchanting location.

Bek wore heels and sported her new hair cut, which I believe makes her look her age!!

There was no way for me to capture the beauty of this restaurant that is nestled along the hillside, all the way down to the river's watery edge.

After a lovely dinner we thanked Great-grandma for keeping Jayden (She was awesome! Watching her watch Jayden was like seeing her 15 years ago!), then we headed over to the hotel. Stephen and Bek relaxed in the hot tub, catching up with some much needed brother-sister time, reminiscing while I waded through the heated pool with Jayden. The water was about 80 degrees, the sky dark with scattered stars, palm trees nodded every so sweetly to wish us a great time and Jayden loved it!

Then the big day was here!

In the parking lot, prior to the ceremony:

Joseph and Victor walking by to find seats:

Teachers lined up, providing the walkway for students:

There's just something about Pomp and Circumstance and young people in cap and gowns... makes me cry every time. Particularly when it's my very own child right out there! I worried that I wouldn't be able to tell which one was my son as they walked through the arch and pathway, so I zoomed in with my lens and looked for Stephen's shoes and jeans and that worked! I knew that was my son. This week I kept remembering those early years... how he loved his first Pookie Bear... then how each day we'd sit on the couch together reading nature books and working on the alphabet... then when he and I went to a workshop by an amazing man who records great books on cd and were inspired by what an adventure reading could be. Yep, the years go by... I cherish every memory. And here's to you, Stephen! You've always been a gentleman, rarely needed correction and I know in your heart who you are and I am proud of you!

When divorce impacts family, holidays and celebrations are most times tricky. My mother's heart panicked a bit this past week, wondering if my son would have a moment to connect with me and take in the moment together. We did share hugs and I was able to slip in the "I love you so much" a few times. What brought peace to it all, though, was knowing that I am his mom. I held him first, nursed him, cared for him for many years... from the first owies of childhood, through sickness... I taught him to read and what homeschooling mom can not realize what a treasure it is to have Saxon's "math meetings" with your child every day of kindergarten, first and second?! Someone wisely shared with me as I headed out for his graduation that most coming of age novels involve kids leaving home or new people coming to town. It's not a discredit to the mom/family. A lot of intellectual growth as young adults occurs outside the relationship with "mom". Mom was the original nurturer in that inner circle of life, but the circle gets larger. Mom is never less important in the circle. I really liked that! It is also like life's timeline. I am at the beginning of his life timeline and am critical to those first 15 years! From there it is only natural that other names are written in on the timeline and dates penciled in for the dates where he left home... where he met that special someone... where a mentor influenced the course of his life.

So, I treasure who he is and thank my Heavenly Father that I had the honor of being his mom.

How do you get through a graduation ceremony with a wiggle one-year old? You take Bek with you, of course! Actually, we had juice boxes, sweet potato puffs and tried to tag team it! Bek was awesome, though!! She has a heart that goes out to help the situations of life... She would say, "Mom, I want you to enjoy watching your son graduate. I'll take Jayden." And if she were to sit and write on my blog, she would declare that when Stephen's row stood up and walked forward, she was on the sidelines, Jayden on hip, calling out his name and waving and embarrassing him!

And my son receives his diploma:

When Stephen and I talked about his graduation, he said that the exciting part of it all is what lies ahead. He declared how this wasn't as big a deal because a lot of people graduate from high school (A lot of people don't, also! So, congratulations, Stephen!), and that the big celebration would come in future graduations! Here's to you and your future, son!