Being a Parent at Your Alma Mater
It’s time to celebrate this boy.
When I walked across the stage 30 years ago to receive my college diploma I was thinking of what I accomplished. While I was hopeful for the future, it wasn’t the time to dwell on where I would be a week a month or years later. I was living in the moment.
When my children starting looking at colleges, I couldn’t help but suggest my Alma mater (after all, I was a tour guide), but was met with resistance. Leveraging some of what remained of my authority over my almost-adult first child, I insisted on a visit, “just to see.” It wasn’t a good fit. My second chose to study engineering, again my small liberal arts school was not a good fit. My third chose music as a course of study. Ah, my school is known for music. Again, I insisted on a visit, “Just to make me happy.”
Less than a half hour into the tour, I got a tap on the shoulder and a whispered, “I hate you.” I turned, startled, wondering what I had done, but that wasn’t the end of the comment. He continued, “I love it here.” I melted.
While I was thrilled and proud that one of my children would follow my footsteps through hundreds-year-old hallways, I also knew this would be a challenge. Though we share many interests, we are very different people. I already had my college years, I had to take a step back and allow him to have his. I was excited to have an excuse to be back on campus, but now I had a new role – as a parent.
I quickly discovered that Parent’s Weekend is different from this side. I thought of my parents while watching football games, smiling at my mom’s annual comment that she knew our team did something good when she heard the cannon (which sadly is missing today). I also realized that Homecoming is much more fun when you can share school pride with your child.
Now it’s his time to walk across the stage. Having watched two other children cross a similar stage, I know it’s an emotional time (and I have the waterproof mascara ready). I’m no less proud of my other children, but this graduation is special. This is at *my* school and though this is not my time, I am honored to have a role. I have been invited to place his hood at the ceremony.
Parenting has its challenges, but the joys are overwhelming. Celebrating our children’s accomplishments is one of the big ones.