The first one of the season came via Facebook event invite. Usually our postal carrier brings them; sometimes they appear in our church mailbox, or are delivered by hand. But year in and year out, they arrive.
But this year is a little different; this year I know more.
This is my first year of attending high school grad open houses knowing exactly how the parents feel from the first day of senior year through to first day of college.
Before my daughter graduated high school last year, I only had my ancient and dusty memories as an emotional gauge. High School Susan was relieved to be finished and excited for college, but was clueless about her parents’ feelings (possibly because they left for a weekend trip an hour after the graduation ceremony…but I digress).
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Over the years, Grownup Susan stood with many a cup of punch and listened to parents talk about their children’s graduation. They all looked happy, proud and maybe a little weary around the eyes. Was that from 18 years of raising a child to adulthoodish, or because they had people streaming through their house for four hours? It was all theory until last year when I sat in the audience and watched my own child cross a graduation stage.
Then I knew.
The parent experience is a combo-emotion of happy, scared, sad, proud and a little weary around the eyes that has nothing to do with a grad party.
Fortified with my experience-earned knowledge, I responded to the Facebook Open House invitation. Yes, I would love to come, Chloe! I was anxious to tell her mom that I knew how she felt. And not just Chloe’s mom, but all my other friends with 2016 grads.
After replying to Chloe’s invite I read another friend’s post about her own grad. The basic message: The paradox feeling of a long time ago that happened just yesterday and led to her baby-turned-woman graduating.
Yup, I know how that feels. I should tell her about the next emotional challenge.
And then I saw a response that snapped me out of the story.
“Just wait until…”
How this person finished that sentence in the comments section didn’t matter, and clearly her motivation wasn’t malicious, but my heart sank a bit…mostly because it was what I was thinking.
“Just wait until” is always followed by something further down a timeline. When a baby is born and Mom is weary: “Just wait until you have a toddler. Exhausting!”
When kindergarten begins and the parent is amazed that their child is old enough to be in school: “Just wait until they get hours of homework — school is fun until it’s not!”
According to “Just Wait Until,” middle-school drama isn’t as challenging as high-school drama.
Freshman year isn’t nearly as hard an adjustment as senior year; senior year isn’t nearly as emotionally shocking as college graduation.
And college graduation isn’t anything compared to marriage and grandbabies.
The thing is, this might all be true but I realized that it was the worst thing to say.
Not because I didn’t mean well.
Not because I didn’t care about my friend.
Not because I wasn’t proud of the grad’s accomplishments.
But because it’s not about me and where I am.
It’s about celebrating my friend and her child where they are at their special moment in time.
A moment that might seem just another senior, just another year … but it isn’t. It’s unique. Just like the graduate; just like our friends.
I don’t know how you feel, Chloe’s Mom, but I can’t wait to hear.