There’s something about hearing the march of ‘pomp and circumstance’ that immediately makes me well up with tears. It’s an emotional mix of nostalgia and the realization of the passing of time. Sixteen years ago that pomp and circumstance represented an exciting newness, my next chapter. An accomplishment and a hopeful future. I couldn’t wait to press forward.
Now, watching my four year old, marching with a confident smile, towards a diploma that’s only used as a prop, makes me want to jump up and slam the pause button. Rewind. Anything but moving forward. Because I know that the next step is elementary school. Then I’ll blink and we’ll be touring colleges. And then this same little boy, who asks to cuddle and hold my hand, will be grown. He’ll be ready to start his new chapter, the chapter where he’s on his own.
And so every day leading up to graduation, I cried. I’m lovingly referring to it as the graduation blues. I cried so much that even my son’s teacher was concerned for me, and rightfully so. This is my last day dropping him off at Pre-K. This is the last time he’ll run out of a Pre-K classroom and jump into my arms. Remember this. Remember him this way. Remember. And to add insult to injury I read ‘Oh the Places You’ll Go’ to him for a week straight.
I thought it was just me until in line at dismissal I saw another mom wipe away a tiny tear. “Sorry, I’m just… I’m just so emotional!” While this was my first Pre-k graduation, it was her third, and now her last. I was caught up in my feelings with the newness of a completed stage, and she was dealing with the finality of it all. “I can’t believe it! No more preschool for me.” It’s so funny because we’re all smart, rational women. We know they have to grow up. Yet you listen to any mom talk about their kids getting older and what do they say, “I can’t believe it!” You can’t believe that the toys and the playing and the tantrums and hugs and spills and cuddles and clean ups and sleepless nights – the good, the bad, the messy, the laughs….you can’t believe how fast it goes. I ran towards my next chapter and now I’d give anything to flip the hour glass back over for my kiddos. I want more time.
“Mommy, are you sad I’m growing up,” he’d ask me while I was choking back tears in the car. Well, I’m not necessarily sad (lies), I just can’t believe this is all…ending. See, it’s the ending that trips you up. It’s the finalization of this stage of life, whichever you’re currently in, that makes you more emotional than when you were hormonal and pregnant! I don’t want any more chapters to finish because I’m scared to open the one where my kids are all grown up.
So here we are. Cap, gown, diploma (real or fake), and tears. Lots and lots of tears. And if you’ve also got the graduation blues, know that you’re not alone. I’m trying to fill these fleeting chapters with as many memories as I can hold, because even if he doesn’t remember, I will. I’ll remember the way he didn’t hear his name when they called him up on stage because he was chatting with his friends. I’ll remember the way he looked for me in the crowd and sweetly smiled when he finally found me. I’ll remember the way he posed so proudly with his grandparents after the ceremony. I’ll remember the awwwws of the crowd when his teacher announced he wanted to work at the fire station with his daddy. I’ll remember his exaggerated moves, completely off beat, during the singing of his class song. And I’ll remember how I looked at him, overflowing with joy, smiling from ear to ear, holding back tears, and endlessly thanking God for this amazing little gift of my son.