This past Sunday my daughter graduated from the University of Vermont. It was a day, both sweet and mildly bitter.
For her, the day seemed a little anticlimactic as she was obviously thinking about graduate school and moving on. She will attend NYU in the fall and is chomping at the bit to get there.
Still, graduation from college is a moment in time for summing up what has been accomplished so far. It is also a time for looking back and for most parents, a time to marvel at how quickly their son or daughter went from diapers to knocking on the door of graduate school.
It does not seem that long ago that I was rocking her at night and driving her to school and planning our weekends. My house once filled with the pitchy sounds of girls, now quiet except for the occasional groans of my aging Golden Retriever. I knew that this day would come, as a family we have all worked together for this day and now it is here and it is history. I suspect that my wife and I will linger a bit to savor the journey so far as I suspect many parents will do at this time.
I guess milestones like these remind us just how precious and finite our time with our children is. My daughter is not looking backward as I am and I know that this is what I want for her. Would I want her longing for her childhood with mom and dad into her mid-twenties, of course not? Nor do I want her letting her parents influence her decisions very much anymore because I know that she can never be really happy until she is fully capable of making her own decisions and taking care of herself.
I suppose that every parent wants to know that they have done a good enough job raising their children and that as parents we are unselfish enough to release our children to their own destinies. Only then can they pursue their interests, their passions with whatever talents and energies they see fit to invest in these pursuits.
Graduation reminds us that parenthood is an experience that provokes emotions in us that are often unexpected and sometimes not easily explained. I guess I always wanted to be one of those really cool parents who eventually became best friends with their children. Alas, I have fallen far short of being a cool parent in fact; I have been the polar opposite of that parent.
I have recently concluded that only parents with remote relationships can become best friends with their children. Most parents have far too much emotionally meaningful history with their children to be best friends. I suppose I will continue to offer unsolicited advice to my daughter about what she should be doing, wearing, listening to and where she should be living. I do this knowing that we have done a good enough job as parents for her to listen to me but to then make her own decisions about her life, after all isn’t that a graduation day of sorts as well.
So while I and other parents opine that the time passes too quickly I know that all the graduates will be listening but looking ahead to the next milestone and next graduation along the way. Congratulations to all the graduates who will cross the stage to receive their diplomas this year and congratulations to all the parents, families and friends who helped to make their graduation a reality.
Remember, all kids count.
Reach the writer at Hurlburt@wildblue.net