I hate that I used that title, it’s my least-favorite Beatles song, but it’s apt. So be it.
But the reality is it’s true, Life Goes on, folks.
I bring this up mainly because of a conversation I’ve had on more than one occasion with more than one person about the next couple weeks in my life. The big event? Graduation(s). Yes…the parenthetical “s” is a plural. On the same day, in stellar pre-planning by my daughter’s middle school, both my 13-year-old and my 18-year-old graduate their respective schools in the coming couple weeks. As a matter of fact, our church had a baccalaureate mass for the high school graduates today.
But the question that comes very often is whether I’m taking it really hard that Abbi, my oldest, is leaving by August to go to school in another state. It’s not an uncommon question nor is it an inappropriate one. If you’d asked me three years ago about my oldest leaving I’d probably have taken it very hard.
But today, two years after a major loss in our family, I don’t see it as a loss. I know that seems strange, like I don’t see myself becoming a parent with the nest starting to empty. The reality is, though, I breathe a sigh of relief. It’s not a loss, it just isn’t. I see this – on both fronts, from Hannah and Abbi – as a success story. It’s a success of the highest nature, as a matter of fact.
Let’s start with Hannah. Last year she barely passed the 7th grade. This year . . . she was failing one of her classes. She was still dealing with changing responsibilities and surging hormones then the fact that she was being treated by a number of people as an adult because she’s so tall. I remind myself, quite often, that she’s still a kid, just 13. Even though she is 5 feet 8 inches tall. But now she’s reaching the point of graduation and she’s passing – with room to spare! That’s a success. Yes, she could easily have been re-taking the 8th grade the way the year started. Sure, she’s uncertain and moving to a new school, but that’s life. We move, change, all that happens during our lifetime.
Abbi . . . a totally different kind of change. Two years ago, Abbi was on a path set by her mother. She was going to go into a medical field. She was going to make money, consequences and emotions be damned, because that’s the measure of success her mother instilled in her. Not to criticize her mother completely, but that was the mentality her mother had. Happiness can come from other fronts, you need to work at something that has high return, no wait. Abbi, however, has always been my most dramatic, most vocal, most fun and quirky of the kids. We all have our own little thoughts and quirks. She’s young, elastic, and can bounce back if things don’t work out. Moving her out of her private school (mostly because we couldn’t afford it) was a big cause of pushing her to make her own decisions. She’s doing something artistic and creative, which her mother loved, but wouldn’t have wanted because it didn’t pay well.
But we always think things through, and much like my parents with me, there’s a philosophy that you should do what makes you happy. Success is measured in your own terms, not monetary, not societal, none of that. Without happiness, the money is a drain, not a draw.
So no . . . I don’t feel saddened or depressed. I’m happy and feel that the coming date is a measure of our success over the last couple years. The intervening years to come will see love, success, possibly marriage and maybe children for my kids. Through all of those they’ll have me there for whatever they need.
Life, you see . . . goes on.