Here is the one, precious photo of our son, his dad and me at my son’s college graduation.
Yes, my son’s eyes are squeezed shut. Yes, that’s typical for him. Ever since he was a tiny boy he’d hear, “one, two, three” and reflexively blink.
Oh, well. And who cares? Here we are in the great state of West Virginia, where Zach has spent four and a half years at Marshall University earning the right to wear that cap and gown. His dad and I are proud. HE’S proud.
Just for kicks and nostalgia I looked up my old column from 2012—the one where I moaned about our soon-to-be empty nest status. I didn’t see a man, I cried then, “I see the helpless baby, the adorable toddler, the grade-school sweetie, the gawky teen. ‘No!!’ I want to scream, ‘don’t go! You’re too young! It’s too soon! Who will take care of you? Who will protect you?’
“And, of course, that’s just silly,” I wrote then. “We’ve spent the last 17 years preparing him for this. In my slightly unhinged mind that doesn’t seem like enough, but it is. It has to be.”
It turns out our son was braver than I and took care of himself just fine. It wasn’t easy, but he learned a lot.
And so have I.
I’ve learned to trust in the way we raised him.
I’ve learned to step back and relinquish control.
I’ve learned to listen more.
I’ve learned that patience is a muscle that has to be exercised every single day.
When I graduated from the University of Hawaii in the School of Journalism I decided not to attend my own graduation ceremony. Too busy, I said. I had a new job at KGMB and didn’t want to take time off, something I’ve come to regret. It would have been nice to participate in an event meant to honor the work that goes into earning a degree. So I was glad my son wanted the affirmation, the celebration and the symbol of his accomplishment.
Watching him march up the ramp to receive that rolled up sheet of paper and shake hands with the school president was surreal in the best possible way.
Back when he was beginning his college journey in 2012 I wrote, “I’m conflicted. I’m scared. I’m happy. I’m worried. I’m hopeful.”
In 2017, gazing at my son in his black robes draped with the maile and cigar lei we brought from home, the emotions swell within me once more. Today, though, they’re all positive.
I’m happy. I’m hopeful.
I’m proud of what our son has done for himself.
I’m a mother. Enough said.