High School Graduation for Parents: a Celebration in Humility

by Lian on May 27, 2013

Baccalaureate Mass. A rose for mom.

A friend of mine said something profound the other day that perfectly summed up my weepy sense of wonder as we approached the day of my son’s high school graduation, “High school humbles parents.”

If you have a child that has made it through four years of high school and marches down the aisle healthy and happy, you understand what that means. You are nothing but grateful that your son or daughter has made it to that day in one piece, emotionally and physically. The nonsense of where they are going to college or what their SATs scores are means nothing compared to the fact that they are there, simply there, to walk across the stage and grab that diploma.

What happens over the course of four years in high school is that the issues kids face get increasing more serious, the consequences much more dramatic. The bad grades or friendship flare-ups of middle school evolve into reckless driving, underage drinking, drug usage, cutting, overdoses, cheating, eating disorders, pregnancies, mental health breakdowns,  even suicide.  Things gets deadly serious without warning. If you think it won’t happen to your child or doesn’t happen at your kid’s school, then you are absolutely wrong.  These four years are so volatile, filled with anxiety, even for “good” kids with “good” parents. ( Aren’t we all?)  I’ve had multiple conversations with my son about every single one of the aforementioned subjects, serious conversations with serious recourse.

So that’s why this weekend, in addition to tremendous joy, I felt tremendous humility. I’m so grateful I was able to watch my son graduate from high school.  Hopefully, this isn’t his greatest accomplishment in life, but one that means the world to me right now. As parents, we can cruise into high school thinking we got it covered. We’ve been there, right? And our kid is great, at least in middle school. But I can tell you, there’s no comparing going through high school as a self-absorbed teen versus going through high school as the parent. Being the parent is infinitely tougher, because the control is lost. All it takes is one bad night, one awful incident to get the wind knocked out of us. To put us on our knees. To humble us.

I teared up when Pomp & Circumstance started and I whooped it up ( when instructed!) as the parents gave their boys a standing ovation at the end of the ceremony. In between, I smiled ear to ear, for every boy who walked across the stage. And for every parent who made it, too.

Embracing my Chaos, Lian

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CLSD OPEN May 29, 2013 at 6:45 AM

Congratulations, Lian – to you and to your son!! :) Our oldest is finishing up middle school this year, and all of what you mentioned is what we’re holding our breath about regarding high school. Enjoy this moment, take pride in your son’s accomplishments–and all that you did to help get him there–and hopefully you can enjoy some down time this summer! I know that you’ll be busy with Elizabeth, but hopefully that’s more fun and uplifting than the daily grind of making sure homework is done, assignments are completed, college stuff is on track, etc. You deserve to enjoy this moment and r-e-l-a-x! ;)

Jennifer May 28, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Congratulations to you and your son! I tear up every time I hear Pomp and Circumstance – I am sure I will be a wreck when it is for my own kids!

Christina from MN May 28, 2013 at 7:26 AM

Awe…glad it was such a great celebration. Congratulations Brookes & Lian!

Cafe Pasadena May 27, 2013 at 10:05 PM

Maybe even more than the son or daughter, you are grateful and relieved if you made it through “that day in one piece, emotionally & physically!”

lyn May 27, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Well stated Lian. I feel like there are so many more “issues” for teens these days than when we were their age. I am sure I was just naive, but seriously I cannot believe how many of the things you mentioned are prevalent at my son’s high school. Many earnest talks have taken place here, just like with you and your son. We can only hope they take something from us and continue to LIVE through it all. Many thanks for your thoughts that were written down.
Love ya, Lian.

Sue in NJ May 27, 2013 at 1:13 PM

Brings back wonderful memories! Thanks for sharing yours.

Marge May 27, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Great post, Lian! Very true!

Daniela Romero May 27, 2013 at 11:56 AM

Thanks for sharing your touching experience. I appreciate it. Good luck with college!

Dana Pepper Bouton May 27, 2013 at 11:53 AM

Thanks Lian for summing up how I feel after my own son’s graduation. For a variety of reasons I felt more humbled the second time around. My son and his friends were much more social and independent than my first born and although I welcomed the risk taking and their ambition to do more outside the rigor of academics, I held my breath and hoped for the best.

Lots of luck to Brookes this next year. I think after suffering the loss of your parents so quickly there are some blessings to having your son close by to ease the adjustment.

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