As you read this, I will be halfway to Boston, grinning until my cheek muscles spasm. I will be on my way to spend four days gloating, bragging, toasting and shamelessly patting myself on the back.
I plan to be the absolute worst case of “Yes, indeed! That’s my tall, handsome son over there in the cap and gown with his Dean’s List awards and his community service accomplishments and his human physiology major and his plans to head off to medical school and his cute girlfriend. Yep. Mine. I’m his mom. Oh yeah.”
I plan to take as much credit as possible for everything good my child has done for the past four years, from anyone silly enough to credit it to me. I fully intend to make a constant spectacle of myself, as if no one else’s child has ever graduated from college before. I plan to high-five the other parents every time I pass them by. I plan to buy a round of drinks. I plan to stand up and spout maudlin platitudes frequently. If my child wasn’t ready to leave the nest yet (and of course, he is), he most certainly will be by the time I board that plane home. I’ve been embarrassing him for years, but this may be my finest hour.
To be fair, I will willingly gush over any other parent’s success stories. We need to be our own best audience, no? At the very least, I am going to just enjoy the heck out of two whole days in the company of my graduating child and his adorable friends, all equally bright and delightful.
I intend to make this weekend the antithesis and antidote for that infamous flight home from Boston to San Diego four years ago, where I simply sat and wept for five hours. I had dropped my youngest child off at college and the painful snapping of those apron strings left me stunned and adrift. You think you snipped those things years ago, only to discover they were wrapped firmly around your own neck.
Still, I managed to vicariously enjoy his college years, which he packed full of amazing adventures. After four years of plane tickets and tuition, long-distance worries and joys, I am extremely ready to celebrate this milestone. You raise your children to be better than you were, to accomplish more and be brighter and finer. Most of all, you raise them to make you look really good and this weekend I am going to look fabulous. All I plan to do for three days is stand around and grin like a cat with a cream mustache.
Oh, of course I know, as does every other parent, that I had precious little to do with all the amazing and admirable things my children have done. No matter. I plan to bask in the reflected glow until I need sunscreen. It’s our payback for college application madness and for that traumatic, tear-stained trip home. It’s our prize for cheering them on, having their backs, and not hounding them to call or even e-mail on a regular basis. It’s the delicious reward for having at least one thing in our life turn out even better than we ever imagined it could.
Never mind that I may once again weep all the way home. This time, there is joy involved and at least I know it’s coming.
Jean Gillette is the Community News editor for The Coast News Group. As a journalist, she primarily worked in San Clemente and Los Angeles. She has been with the Coast News for 20 years and lives in La Costa.