Tag Archives: graduation

Graduation Time

grad capNope, no one in my house is graduating. But for some reason I found myself going back and reading all of the graduation posts that I had written for my kids. I guess it is that time of year. It all seems so long ago, and like yesterday at the same time.

I will tell you that here on the other side, we are all doing great and happy to have made it.

Here is a little roundup for those who are going through the graduation dance. Don’t worry, I promise, you will all be just fine.

Jana’s High School Graduation

Danny’s High School Graduation

Jana’s College Graduation

Danny’s College Graduation

Iko’s Obedience School Graduation (JK, if you have ever met her you would know she would definitely be a dropout!)

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Filed under childhood, college, danny, daughters, education, family, gary, humor, Iko, Jana, moms, parenting, pets, school, wisconsin

Time To Cry Tuesday – Graduation (the final one)

A graduation post? Again? Didn’t I just do one of these? I suppose three years could be considered ‘just’ in some circles.

Each time my kids donned a cap and gown, I came here to share the overwhelming emotions attached to watching one’s child ‘grow up’.

There was Jana’s HS graduation; my first experience of letting go. I reread it today and it seemed like both yesterday and 100 years ago. (yes, I cried)

Danny’s HS graduation post brought back the memory of the pending empty nest (which by they way empties and fills again a few times before it is truly vacant). For some reason that was the first of two posts where I had an overwhelming emotional experience in a Starbucks. What the hell is that all about? (Yes, I cried again)

Then there was Jana’s college graduation. I marveled at the woman we had grown as I continue to do every day (yeh, more tears).

So many milestones, so many emotions.

But this time we finally got it right. Instead of all that overwhelming emotion, our graduation trip was a true celebration. We simply had fun! And although I felt very sentimental about leaving Madison after 7 years, I was more excited about my second child starting his life. Danny, in his matter-of-fact, self-assured manner, set the tone. He cut us the slack to be proud but kept the reigns tight on not making it all too big. We have simply had way too much big this past year, and he knew that. With humility and confidence he taught us how to do what he does best… be here now, go with the flow and most of all – enjoy life. (with shades on, of course).

Sure there were mixed emotions, how could one not miss a town with this view that had flyers for a band named Diarrhea Planet and reverse evolution graffiti on the sidewalk. This place is awesome. And my kids are more awesome for having lived there. But all things change. And change is good.

Here is my net of it all:

When your kids first leave for college it feels like an amputation. You think you are losing something you can never get back. You worry about your life changing drastically. Your heart aches as your head is telling you to knock it off and lose the drama. You dread your parental obsolescence.

Here – on the other side – you realize that your kids are not part off you, they enhance you. And you them. You never lose them, for no matter where they live they share their lives with you. Your life will change drastically, and that is a good thing… if you kept going at that custodial parenting pace much longer you would explode. And being someone again, instead of someone’s parent is the natural progression. Let’s face it, you have stuff to do!

Sure your heart will ache from time to time as you watch them struggle and grow, but it is a good ache. It is the physical manifestation of how much you love them. Just like when they were little, they will most certainly fall. The hard part is not trying to fix it for them when they do.

But most of all, parental obsolescence is simply a contradiction in terms. They will always need you, just differently. It’s all good.

Congrats Danny boy, thanks for the best weekend ever. You make us so very proud.




Now go out and be all you can be (and be careful).



Filed under advice to my son, college, danny, education, family, graffiti, moms, music, relationships, Time to Cry Tuesdays

The Famous Graduation Post 1 – This is Not a Dress Rehearal

I have decided to make this an annual post at graduation time of year. I wrote this before I was a blogger. It was an email I sent to those who had been parenting with me since preschool. It was written on the morning of my daughter’s HS graduation. It still makes me cry. Funny how she is now a COLLEGE grad, one year out and has been living home, soon to move on to her own apartment. THAT will be some post… the final launch.

This is not a dress rehearsal…

or watch the temp when you decide to iron the graduation gown.

6AM on the day that my first child graduates high school.

how can this be, she was just a curly-headed little whirling dervish whose door i had to hold shut as she was throwing her ever famous brand of temper tantrums. that same door with the loose latch from all the times she slammed it for effect when she stormed into her room in her tweens. you know the one, who at five years old marched into nuerosurgery to ‘get her neck fixed’ and never once asked ‘why me?’.

who was that radiant young woman that walked out of the house wednesday morning with her car packed and her keys in hand saying, “don’t worry mom, i have the garmin GPS, i don’t need a map!”

well i think, perhaps, i need a map today. someone tell me how to navigate this road. we surely have had enough practice. we graduate them ad nauseum – from the 4’s, kindergarten, 5th grade, 8th grade – the most graduated generation of all times. you would think we would get used to it. but this year’s cap does not have flourescent orange and green finger paint decorating it. this kid has actually grown up! how dare she. does she not know that my bravado this year has all been an act. of course i could not be ready for her to be the competant, independent, grab-the-world-by-the-balls person i worked so hard to raise. does she not know i was only kidding!! wisconsin?!! that is halfway across the country!

i digress – back to the gown and the iron. being a working mom i always look for ways to overcompensate and make sure that i am doing the mom thing as well as the work thing. so, of course, they both are never really quite up to the standard i expect. somewhere in the 4-page green directions for graduation (you know the one, where the assistant principal gives them a 10 bullet list for how to enjoy graduation and prom, 9 of which stress not drinking or doing drugs) there was mention of taking the gown out of the bag and ironing it. at midnight i was the mom who would just hang it up. at 6AM i decided no daughter of mine will graduate with a wrinkled gown!

so why is it, exactly, that they make these things out of the same material as basketball shimmer shorts?!

no, you will not be able to notice my daughter by the big brown iron mark on the back of her white gown. but if you look close, you may notice that on the front left shoulder the fabric is, how should i put it, a tad ‘melted’.

as jana would say, ‘it’s FINE’. as my parents would say, i did it ‘the Amy way’.

a huge thank you to the jana who has become one of my favorite people on earth to spend time with. surely the one that knows me the best, and loves me anyway. sometimes it seems that she is raising me. i think her humor and radiant smile will get me through this one. levity has always been her strong point.

love and congrats to all of you who have been in the parenting trenches with me the past 18 years. for some of you it is your first, others, your last. it is never easy to watch them go. but then again, we could all use a rest. and as my mommy mentors tell me, they come home, stay out all night, sleep late and bring lots of laundry.

let the games begin!


Filed under communities, family, Jana, parenting

Time to Cry Tuesday – The College Graduation Post

I thought it would be a good idea to give fair warning in the title to all my friends who are about to embark on the road trip to graduation.

College graduation? Really? How could that be, she looks too young to have a child that age.

What? She doesn’t look so young? Oh right, she just thinks she does. Because she displays adolescent behavior she still feels like she herself is a college student. AND she is a little nuts with this talking in the third person thing. Ah, cut her some slack, her kid is graduating!

Ok, kiddies, here goes:

Four years? Has it actually been four years since I sat at this very keyboard and banged out the High School graduation post that brought us all to our knees? I suppose so, for as I look down at this keyboard I see that the passage of time has worn away any visible signs of both the ‘i’ and ‘n’ keys. (Odd, I know. There must be some significance to those letters, but it escapes me)

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this next rite of passage for my first born. At the beginning it seemed to not be such a big deal; certainly not compared to the emotions of her High School graduation. Sending a child off into the world felt monumental. It was the first step on the long journey of letting go. A tape loop of the curly-headed little whirling dervish danced in my head as I thought of leaving her halfway across the country.

She was SO ready.

I was so NOT.

For the most part we both did really well with it… until the first time she got sick and I felt just how far Madison, Wisconsin was from home. But she survived. And so did I. With flying colors, actually.

As graduation grows closer, the ‘not such a big deal’ theory is starting to get some holes in it. Who the hell am I kidding? I cry at Applebee’s commercials for G-d sake! I sent a 19-year-old kid off to college and this amazing young woman is coming out on the other end. It was like some crazy science experiment… 2 parts Badger, 1 part personal navigation and a 100 inches of snow a year. Shake well, supply digital equipment, a warm coat, a semester abroad, a shoulder to cry on when needed (aka, bitch too) and wait 4 years to see what it morphs into.

And morph she did! She is one of the few people on this earth that can put me in my place and not piss me off while she is doing it. She makes me laugh till I cry and cry till I laugh. She has my warped sense of humor tempered with a level head and a kind heart that floors me more often than not.

Did I mention she and her 80 lbs. of shoes (20 lbs a year) are moving back home. I suppose getting her back makes it easier than letting her go.

Sort of. But as much as she loves us, and our home, we are not foolish enough to think that this is where she wants to be. And as soon as her next chapter begins she will move out… for good this time.

Ouch. Sort of.

Here’s the thing (which BTW is the phrase she always used as a teenager to preface a difficult discussion… ironic). It is time for Miss Jana to become who she will be. And, like most young people her age there is a part of her that is scared to death. So this is for you my sweet girl:

I have always told you that you can do anything that you set your mind to (except maybe pee standing up… that one is tough). You can. Not everyone knows what they want to be when they grow up – most of my friends still don’t. The most important thing is that you just keep growing up – for the rest of your life. And equally as important, never forget the wonders of being young. Passions will find their way to you. Necessity will rear its looming head and drive you to reach your goals. Life is funny.

When you least expect it, you find yourself just where you should be.

Begin Anywhere.


Filed under college, Jana, Time to Cry Tuesdays

Time to Cry Tuesday – Boyz 2 Men

Hold on to your kleenex, kiddies, we are in countdown mode till the youngest child goes off to college. I will spare the drama, but this post had to be written.

Those who are walking down this road with me, we all know that this will be the fall of doing whatever the hell we want. And that surely does ease the pain of letting go. But every so often there is a moment. One that gets stuck in your throat and makes it just a little harder to breathe than you would like.

This past weekend I got my boy back for a few short days between counselor at camp and freshman at college. As we pulled into the zip code he had just enough time to shower before we were off to a 5 family farewell dinner with some of ‘his boys’.

Of course we had to torture them with the cameras a bit. But I am pretty sure that this post will make them glad that we did. For in picture number one below, you will find some of the very same smiles as picture number two. They may be hard to find, what with the facial hair and the hunky builds (I knew you guys would love that one), but they are the very same smiles that kept us moms going all these years.

We cheered at the sidelines for all these athletes, and of course virtually for our ‘mathlete’. We have lived through your joys and disappointments together as a community of families as if each and every one of you were our very own; because in essence you were.

We let you puke on our couches (as little ones) and in our cars (as not so little ones). Our homes were all yours, and of course so were our fridges and pantries. Never once did our love for you fail, even when your judgement sometimes did. The friendships you have shared through these years are nothing to be taken lightly.

May you always know the feeling of someone having your back the way you have here with each other. And may your moms survive this without putting you over the edge.

I love you all. Now go out and be all you can be.

And for G-d’s sake, be careful!

Oh, and of course remember to come back and eat me out of house and home whenever your hearts’ desire.


Filed under advice to my son, carry a camera, danny, parenting, Time to Cry Tuesdays

Time to Cry Tuesday – Life Stages

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Well kids, it’s Tuesday and I am not gonna lie, I might be almost all cried out after this bittersweet roller coaster of a week. There are a only a few things I am truly sure of after all the excitement of graduating my second and last child. Here is my takeaway from the whole experience.

1. If one more person uses the term ’empty nest’ I am pretty sure I will have to just punch them in the face. Enough with that crap already. Empty, shmempty, we all know they come home with laundry in tow and lie on the couch like they never left. And we love it. Period. And then they leave. And we kinda like that too. Period.

2. This is a given, and it is huge when you finally get it: every life stage has its rocky parts at the beginning. When we move out of our parents’ house we are apprehensive. Then college life is the norm and as soon as we get used to that we are off in the ‘real world’ and we have to adjust to life not being one big party. Then we learn how to make life one big party with a paycheck and we get married and have to adjust to another person’s needs. So that goes OK and then we squeak out a couple of puppies and we pine away for those carefree days, sans diaper bags and mortgages until…

you guessed it. We become THAT life. A friend said to me the other day, ” There was one period of time when it seemed like time stood still and everything was perfect. The kids were around 8-12 and they were independent enough but we still had control. And then BANG, it all blew up again.”

I kept thinking about that all weekend. How being a parent with kids was who we were. It defined us in our community, throughout our days, in all our planning. It was ‘all about the kids’ (right Jo?).

And then it was not. Or not exactly ‘not’ but kind of ‘hey we can maybe go back to the way it was before we squeaked out the puppies’.


3. Being a fast learner I get that as soon as I become used to this next stage these rotten kids will up and get married and have their own kids and throw me into the lead role in a friggin’ lifestyle commercial for irregularity (if you know me that is highly unlikely), or osteoporosis meds. And there we will be again, adjusting.

Keyword: adjusting.

The only constant is change. (another sentence I have heard ad nauseum this week – another comment worthy of face punching). Or back to the old love child in me: To everything turn, turn ,turn, there is a season… damn I always hated that song! And if I am not mistaken it might have been the theme of my high school yearbook.

So here’s to change. And not taking any of this all too seriously. And a nice rambling Time to Cry Tuesday that probably did not really even shed a tear…

because we’re all cried out.

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog. For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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Filed under Time to Cry Tuesdays

Jeans, a Hurricane and Wet Feet

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I know what you are thinking, “She has finally snapped. The pressure of her son’s graduation has snipped the remaining thread she was hanging by”.


Long and short of it, Danny’s brand of jeans are nowhere to be found sending us on an exasperating quest. Some bizarre storm blew through a sliver of Long Island leaving in its wake the worst damn gridlock I have ever seen and the AC in the kids’ car is spewing ice cold water on our feet every time we make a turn.

Honestly, none of this matters. But it does give you a little glimpse into the type of day that Danny and I had – the last day together before graduation.

And there it is folks: The Last Day. Staring me down with its beady little eyes. Making me threaten to curl up in a ball and hide under the headless mannequins in the mall while searching for the perfect pair of boy jeans and finally letting it all out with either a primal scream or uncontrollable sobbing. (both of which are not all that desirable to witness your mom doing when you are a 17-year-old boy who is also at the end of his rope).

So we found jeans and the car will wait in line to get fixed. And I, being one who with a strong distaste for drama, did not lose it at the mall. It was tempting, but I used restraint.

Then I walked in the house and there it was…

The graduation gown hanging on the back of the door.

And the tape loop of a little boy turned man furiously ran through my mind. Legos. Why can I not stop thinking of Legos? And blocks. And Brio trains and bridges on the basement floor at 6AM Sunday mornings when I was dying to sleep. And little blonde bowl haircuts. Apple juice – why is the smell of apple juice so damn nostalgic?  And Axe, why do I tear up at the thought of the whole upstairs smelling like Axe Body Spray? Could I actually be craving the smell of sweaty soccer socks? Have I lost my mind or would I give any amount of money to drive one more carpool or sit on the sidelines of a soccer field in the broiling heat/pouring rain/freezing cold just one more Sunday morning in Center friggin’ Moriches or better yet Ronkonkoma?

This is what mothers do at times like these. We reflect. And we share. And we promise our sons we will keep it together when everyone knows that keeping it together is actually the last thing we are skilled at.

So here’s to the class of 2010.

And their moms (and dads). And to sons thinking that maybe it is ok to let mom lose it once in awhile… because they know that the act of keeping it together may be the one that finally sends her over edge. And that crying at graduation is the mom version of separation anxiety. And perhaps our sons remember that feeling from way back when…

as they watched us drive away.

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog. For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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Filed under college, danny, family, humor, moms, shopping, teenagers