Pomp and Circumstance

Granada graduationI almost don’t recognize him as he walks down the hallway from his bedroom.

Long black gown adorned with honor cords; black cap and 2011 tassel in his man-sized hands.

He’s ready to go.

His graduation is the end-result of spelling tests and learning cursive; of sitting criss-cross-applesauce on the rug and using his listening ears.

Of years of group projects, PowerPoint presentations, and cramming for finals; of early-morning alarm clocks and the pounds of heavy books he carried on his back.

And while somewhere deep inside me I can feel the tears, as he stands before me now I just feel pride.

The tears can wait for now.

Truth be told, there were tears earlier in the day. Pre-emptive tears, shed while dusting the family pictures and feeling mournful of the little boy smiling back at me from the frames.

I offer him a ride to the school, so we won’t have too many cars there when the ceremony is over.

Always logical, this mom.

The first time I left him in this parking lot, I watched him walk in with his backpack loaded and new shoes, ready to take whatever high school was ready to throw his way.

I can’t help but watch him as he walks in for the last time.

Walking tall and proud, in his gown.

Now he’s ready to go.

An hour later I sit in the football stadium, the dull roar of family and friends surrounding me. People have made banners and signs; hold bouquets of flowers and balloons for their graduates.

I hold nothing but my breath.

The band cues up the traditional Pomp and Circumstance song and far across the field I see the line of graduates begin filing in.

Gold gown, then black; girl, then boy.

Over five hundred of them, but there’s only one I’m looking for in the crowd.

At least one hundred students march towards their seats until I see him enter the stadium.

I bite my lip to catch myself from crying as I stare at this young man who used to hold my hand to cross the street; who wore footie jammies and loved mac and cheese.

Confident and proud, he carries himself around the corner and down the row to his seat.

The obligatory speeches follow, a medley of songs sung, the national anthem applauded.

And then, the names.

Over five hundred names. Air horns blow, cowbells clang, family and friends scream.

His row stands and begins their walk towards the podium.

More cheers, more cowbell.

And finally, they call it.

The name I wrote on that card in the hospital seventeen years ago.

There he is, my baby boy.

And he’s ready to go now.

Comments

  1. Oh Sherri – I’m crying with you.

    How can the earth circle the sun so very very very fast?

    I do not understand. I just do not.

  2. Oh jeez… you made me bawl. Beautiful. My little boy is 4 and still holds my hand when we cross the street, in fact he reaches for it. Every time, I am so grateful because I know one day, soon – he might stop reaching for it and I will have to start to get him ready to go.
    Beautiful. Seriously. Thank you.

  3. I’m crying. Beautifully written. My son graduates from elementary school on Friday and I can’t stop crying over it.

  4. So beautifully written. My oldest just finished her first year of high school — the time is zooming, and soon I’ll be experiencing the same day you just described.

    And I’m not ready.

    Congratulations, and best wishes!

  5. At 8 my son is just starting to pull away in public and only reaches for my hand if he is distracted. I don’t want the next 8 years to pass so quickly. It must be so strange to watch your baby turn into a real adult.

  6. *tear* What a proud moment Sherri! Thanks for sharing.

  7. I don’t know how you stand it. How are you supposed to let him go? It breaks my heart to think of him & mine just around the corner going out into the world. I hope I’m as brave as you in a few years.

    Thank you for sharing.

  8. lelisa13p says:

    Oh, how familiar this was to me! Exquisitely painful yet breathtakingly beautiful, seeing the joyous smiles on those youthful faces. Then again, five years later in a University class of 1400, teary smiles while trying to figure out where the time had flown. My baby is now 25 (!) and in my mind’s eye his little hand always reaches out to clasp mine. Hugs to you and to your strong, handsome young man as you continue your journey together yet separate. Congratulations!

  9. I was doing really well reading this. Until I got to the part about the little boy who wore footie jammies and loved mac and cheese. And then I started bawling like a baby. I mean it. Bawling.

    I need this tonight, Sherri. As I’m sitting here exhausted because my own little guy has worn me ragged… now I’m contemplating sneaking into his room to watch him sleep in those tiny little footed jammies.

    And this… right here? Helps me understand why, even though I’m thirtysomething, my mom still calls me her baby. He’ll always be your baby boy, right?

  10. Awwww, I’m not ready for him to go yet.

    Congratulations.

  11. Oh tears. How perfectly you capture motherhood here.

    Love you.
    xoxo

  12. This was so gorgeous, such a wonderful gift to your son, you should print and frame it for him. I know that this will happen in a blink of an eye, even as they start preschool this week, I am so aware of how fast “that happened” and how quickly the rest of life’s milestones will too.

    You did a great job raising him and his ability, now, to let go is because you gave him the gift of roots and wings! You should be so proud. Congratulations to u both!!!!

  13. The 2 things that really got me:

    1. criss-cross applesauce
    2. the name you wrote on the hospital card 17 years ago!

    I stumbled this, you terribly-gifted writer, you!

  14. Damn its hard to type when I can’t see
    (and when will I learn to take off make up at night?)
    Love when you write this way because instead of looking at the years flying by and seeing the end of it all, you give us the hope of a bright shiny future of possibilities, pride, love … such beautiful words.
    Thank you.

  15. I’m sure you know I’m sitting here crying in my coffee. You have such a beautiful gift at putting everything I’m not ready for into words.

    How does the time go so fast? I know my time to sit in the stands and cheer for my own child wearing a tassle will be here before I know it. I hope I can handle it with as much poise & grace as you did.

    Congratulations- to both of you.

  16. I’m not normally a very emotional person but this will be me next year and it will be my third and LAST child to graduate high school. At that point, i will be officially an empty nester. I was ok with the first two flying the coop but my baby, he’s special.

    So yeah, this one really touched me…no small feat…and now its 7:40 and i’m emotional…uggghhhh

  17. Beautifully written. You captured the emotions so well. I caught myself wiping my eyes…amazing piece!!

  18. I’ve been reading your blog for awhile, but I don’t think I’ve ever commented.

    Anyway, this is so beautiful. My children are young, but I can only imagine the immense pride and overwhelming heartbreak your feeling at this moment. I am crying as I read this.

    Congrats to your son and to you. What a beautiful job you’ve done.

  19. You really captured the feelings beautifully and perfectly! (I think I cried a lot more than you did, though 🙂 I agree with Liz, the line that got me was “The name I wrote on that card in the hospital seventeen years ago.” I thought those very same words when my son graduated. How on earth can this be?

  20. Darn you, Sherri! I’m crying. And the toddler is looking at me like I’ve lost my mind.

    This is so beautiful. Amazing. I’m so happy for you guys.

  21. So beautiful Sherri! What an amazing gift you gave him in this post.

  22. “The name I wrote on that card in the hospital seventeen years ago.”

    That line? That’s when the tears started falling.

    Congratulations to your son, and to you Sherri.

  23. “I held nothing but my breath.”

    That line took MY breath away.

    Just beautiful.

    Congratulations, mama.

    Look what you did?

    XO

  24. p.s. I know this moment is about him.

    But it’s also a little bit about you.

    (a lot.)

  25. Oh Sherri, I felt that all the way in my kidney. Just perfect.

  26. That was 10 shades of lovely. I also can’t imagine what it must feel like to watch your baby become an adult.

    Mine’s only 8, and I’m already wondering if there will be room in my son’s dorm for me… 😉

  27. Oh, man! I’m crying. And absolutely dreading the day that this happens to me! Pride sucks – I’ll take the mac and cheese phase forever, thank you.

  28. Melinda says:

    Beautiful. I’m bawling. I have a five year old that makes me crazy and a 16 year old son who is only two short years away from this moment. I know I won’t fair well at the ceremony. Congrats to your son!! It’s a great reminder to enjoy every moment.

  29. Sherri…so beautiful! I have a lump in my throat – trying to hold it together because I will be in those shoes on Thursday. You have given me hope that I can get through this with grace as you have. Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

  30. Crying over here!

    I cannot and yet I can, imagine this day for my own boy. Pride and tears for sure.

    Congratulations Sherri! XO

  31. many times do write that i cried…because the tears have threatened.

    this time? spilling down my face.

    you have done such a wonderful job, Sherri. Not just on this post and taking me to that bleacher seat with you, but on raising such a fine young man.

    My thoughts go straight to my almost-2-year old who sat up so tall today for his doctor’s appointment and only cried for a quick second when he got his shot. And who now hugs his Lamby as he sleeps the afternoon away.

    Congratulations on a job well done.

    I hope he gets to read your words someday, by the way.

  32. And I’m crying.

  33. this made me smile and fight back tears all at the same time. i can only imagine how you felt. my baby is only 18 months and as you described your baby boy i couldn’t help but to think of mine. your baby has graduated… sounds like you did well.

  34. JDaniel4's Mom says:

    This led me to tears. I will be bawling in the stands 15 years from now.

  35. Crap. Crying at work. My older son is a freshman next year, and I have a hard time comprehending that. I cannot begin to fathom a high school graduation.

  36. Teary over here at the Bungalow. This is hitting to close to home right now, as I realize grade 10 flew by faster than I could have ever imagined. So beautifully written as always.
    Dana

  37. Oh Sherri! I’m SOBBING. At work. In my little cubicle.

    This was a piece of perfection.

  38. Sherri-
    This conveys such a sense of pride and peace. My boys are 1 and 3. This view is too far away to see and yet you made it feel just around the corner. I can tell from what you write–and from no bragging on your part, mind you–that you did a good job. More cowbell!

  39. Oh, this hurts my heart. But I can also feel the happiness and pride you have for him too. Congratulations to your son and best wishes to you all.

  40. Awww. I’m a mushy mess now. Congrats!

  41. Oh man. My son is 4.5 years old and I’m cryng already. He will grow so fast. Congratulations to your “baby” boy. *WAAAHHHHHH*

  42. ::tears::

    Oh dear, that was just beautiful. Like I said before it is bittersweet. But you will always be his mama and you will always be home.

  43. With this you made me cry and remember that day in the hospital and imagine that day in the future when I hear her full name again. The days pass so quickly.

    Congratulations mama! You have raised a man and you should be proud. He may be ready to go, but he is always your baby.

  44. My son is 10. You just showed me the future. Wow. Simply, wow.

  45. I almost made it through without tears. But when you mentioned writing his name down in the hospital I caved.

    I’m just over half way between my own graduation and what I’m sure will be an incredibly emotional day when it is my kids’ turns. You made me remember what it was like on graduation day and fill with anticipation the day I am on the other side.

    Congratulations to both of you 🙂

  46. oh, visions of my daughter’s graduation 2 years from now.

    My son, who graduated last year, was NOT into school. We didn’t know until about a week before graduation that he would actually go through the ceremony (his choice – not the schools) He didn’t do senior activities – most notably the prom.

    My daughter however is VERY social and has already announced that she will be doing EVERYTHING! All the build up and they hype is going to send me over the edge when the actual day arrives.

    Congratulations to your son on his graduation!

  47. I can’t say anything.

    My eyes are just glistening, and there’s a painful lump in my throat.

    So perfect.

  48. Well I’m reading this now as I listen to my baby whimper while he falls back to sleep and I just have to cry. I know it probably seems like yesterday when you were holding a little baby boy in your arms, and I know it will feel like I’ll turn around and mine will be graduating. It’s terrifying. Congrats to him!

  49. Sherri I’m a blubbery mess. This is amazingly beautiful, a post as only you can write.

  50. Oh, my. This tore at my heart. I am right there with you. I seriously had to keep reminding myself not to cry during my son’s graduation. He’s ready to go now… and he’s taking a piece of my heart with him. OK, I AM crying now.

    Thanks for coming by my blog! So happy to have found yours as well.

  51. Oh dang. You just made me cry. It seems like so far away from me but really I know it’s just around the corner. A blink of an eye.

    Such a beautiful post. I imagine there are so many emotions you feel in that moment. If only our kids knew the things us mothers feel.

    Congratulations to you son AND to you for raising him!

  52. This post? Perfect.

    Congratulations to you and your son!!!

  53. Sherri…wow. Beautiful and so bittersweet.

    I keep thinking that I want the kids to hurry and grow up, but after reading this, I’m not so sure I ever want them to grow up!

    Congrats to your son (and to you!)

  54. The baby in our family graduated on Friday too 🙁 I couldn’t believe how emotional I was, and I’m the big sister!!

    Congrats on “surviving” all those years!! *HUGS*

  55. Oh Sherri. EVERY time I read these posts about your son, I pray for a time machine, and a box of tissues.

    And don’t think I didn’t see “more cowbell.” Love you!

  56. So achingly beautiful, Sherri.
    I can’t imagine all of the emotions that you’re working through right now, but this piece has left me a weepy mess.

    This part right here started the flood of tears: “Pre-emptive tears, shed while dusting the family pictures and feeling mournful of the little boy smiling back at me from the frames.” I am sitting here, watching Matthew in his high chair, eating his Cheerios and I know that I will blink and he will be crossing the stage. No matter how hard I try to fight it.

    Your writing never ceases to amaze me. Much love, my talented friend.

  57. I can barely see to type, I’, crying that hard. This is wonderful, Sherri. You have such a gift. Your tender words just described my future…

  58. This is such an emotional rollercoaster for you, Sherri. Forget this being a momentous occasion for HIM – this is huge for YOU! You did it. Job well done, my friend.

  59. Oh, Sherri.

    I will remember this when I’m wishing a day away because, really, it’s all so hard, but then they’ll be gone and I’ll be left looking at pictures on my computer.

    Hopefully, I’ll see many things of which I’ll be proud. As I know do.

    Much love to you…

  60. GEEZUS Sherri!! now I KNOW you were in tears… because I AM SOBBING LIKE A CHAMP!! My husband has no clue what to do with the slobbering mess you just made of me, & is fluttering around me at this very moment trying to make me stop. lol I guess I needed a good cry… 🙂

  61. got me. right in the gut.

  62. Sherri, I have just been through this twice in the last two weeks, you captured it perfectly!

  63. Oh my, Sherri. Just beautiful. Two grown daughters and my son’s fifth grade “walkaway” was today. Visions of this moment and imagining the man hands you wrote of floated through my consciousness today. Bittersweet, indeed. Thanks for sharing.

Trackbacks

  1. […] With this new school year come big changes. […]

  2. […] mommas wrote posts about their children graduating preschool, kindergarten, high school. I got nostalgic for my own graduations (six so far) and wondered what T will be like when he hits […]

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