By Brenda Black
No matter how many years pass, no matter how far removed from the direct ties to a graduate, I still cry at commencements. I scan the audience, spotting moms who are doing their level best to just keep it all together for the moment. Instantly, I'm in their skin and I'm the mess. My heart races, tears trickle and I find myself digging through my purse for a tissue to blot damp cheeks marked by empathy.
Why, oh why, does Mother's Day have to come in the same month, and often on the same day as graduation ceremonies? The one-two punch to a maternal gut is nearly more than a momma can take standing up! I liken it to post traumatic stress, with flashbacks from birthing pains to toddler tumbles each time you attend “the last” of something. Last game, last day, last performance, last award banquet, last...last...last. All such finality causes the brain to churn up memories of all the firsts.
Numbly you go through the motions surrounded by other shell-shocked parents, pretending to be celebrating rather than grieving. The first lost tooth, the first step, the first word and that big ol' bus swallowing your five year old up on the first day of school jolts one into the awful reality that 13 years have come and gone in a flash.
And there they stand, young men and young women, taller and stronger than their folks. Still, in a mother's eyes these are infants just yesterday rocked and swaddled. Doggone it, I'm crying again just thinking about it!
From one who's been there and survived, my heart goes out to each of you dying a little inside. Trust me when I tell you, there are more great days ahead. There will be phone calls home late in the night when mom's voice is the only one those big kids want to hear. Through the grogginess and worries, your heart will be filled. You'll be squeezed hard and lifted off the floor with bear hugs and big sighs, accompanied by all that college laundry when they come home for a visit. Your world will widen with them. New people, new places, new topics of conversation are just around the bend.
And then one day you sense the greatest change; without warning you've become dear friends. Oh, you will always be their mama, but this shift is something magical. As they transform into independent adults, you are escorted past another milestone. There you'll be ushered to a front row seat to enjoy the fruit of your labor. Smiles will come again, but there is one caveat. You'll still cry.
It's just part of the mother phenomenon.
©2016 The Word's Out-Brenda Black