Wear Sensible Shoes and Other Observations of College Graduation Day

Our oldest child graduated from college over the weekend. I wasn’t sure what to expect, which may sound silly since I’m a college graduate myself. I graduated several decades ago from a mid-sized public university in the era of Aqua Net and patent leather pumps. I remember the fashion, but honestly, I can barely remember the ceremony. It’s likely sandwiched somewhere in my now peri-menopausal brain between the latest drama on Grey’s Anatomy and our grocery list.

College graduation day. Four years flew by! It seems like we were just dropping her off on first-year move-in day.

As moms, we get so busy with life and schedules and keeping it all together, that we sometimes forget the details of the past. And that’s okay. Our current challenge as we raise our own families is to know when to just stop and be present—to savor the moments as they happen. To find our own calm in the chaos and give ourselves permission to actually enjoy the belly laughs and let go of the imperfections. 

The formality, pageantry and history added to the remarkable day.

For my fellow moms (especially for those of you with children graduating next year), here are a few observations from our daughter’s graduation weekend. Feel free to tuck them away to help you prepare for your child’s graduation day.

  1.  Worry less about what you’re going to wear and more about how you’re going to sit for nearly three hours without needing to visit the bathroom. You’ll see every end of the fashion spectrum, from Daisy Dukes to three-piece suits. And the line to the ladies room, as expected at any large gathering, will be 35-people deep. 
  2. Semi-comfortable shoes are a must. Depending on the size of the school and the parking situation, you may have to walk a fair distance to the ceremony site. Your heels may look terrific in photos, but sadly your swollen ankles will not.
  3. Put down your phone and savor the moment. I was blown away by the number of folks hiding behind their phones, more worried about capturing the moment than experiencing the moment. As a parent, you have likely been instrumental in your child earning this degree. Watch it with your own eyes and let someone else capture it for you.
  4. Bring people from your tribe to be there with you. This is a day filled with mixed emotions—anticipation, joy and bittersweet tears. You won’t regret having the support of people you love. And as an added bonus, they can be the ones snapping photos.
  5. Celebrate this day! It is not only an academic milestone, but a life event. It deserves respect and joyful celebration. We made reservations at a local restaurant and invited people from our daughter’s college journey (her house mom, her boss, her advisor, friends and family). We ate chicken and waffles and laughed until our sides hurt. We even shed a few tears. But we left grateful to be a part of her journey…and her tribe.

Silliness, sushi and a group selfie the night before. Good times and great memories.

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