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.

Ode to a Peanut Butter Sandwich

peanut butter sandwichYour relationship with my son has been reliable, stable.

Always there, in that reusable Tupperware container in the bottom of the backpack.

Day after day, Monday through Friday.

Never on a weekend. Weekends are made for hot dogs or soup; for grilled cheese or leftover pizza.

Oh, there have been others before you.

I recall a particularly expensive phase of roast beef in fourth grade.

Several dalliances with a school lunch purchase; maybe a tempting order of Beef Nachos or Mini Cheeseburgers. Relationships that soured almost the moment the food crossed his lips.

And then you came along, simple and easy. Two ingredients, that’s all.

Whole wheat bread. Smooth peanut butter.

And suddenly, there was no other.

Somewhere early on in middle school, the relationship became exclusive. I was a willing enabler after a while, admittedly because you were easy.

I’m not ashamed to admit that, really.

So for the past seven years we’ve met each morning at the kitchen counter; danced our dance with a knife and a few crumbs.

Over 1,200 times, at last count.

But it’s over now; it’s time for me to let you go.

This morning was our last rendezvous by the pantry, the last time we’ll create crumbs together in an attempt to provide brain food to a busy high school kid.

I wish you well.

And while you and I won’t be together anymore, there’s still hope for you.

You might find yourself in a dorm room come September.

First Door on the Right

The basic contents of the room haven’t changed much.

A twin-sized bed, a small nightstand next to it, a dresser, a desk with a lamp.

Fourteen years ago, it was deemed The Big Boy Room and we moved his little-boy things in with great fanfare.

When you are three years old and enamored with the garbage man, the height of awesomeness is to have a room at the front of the house. That way, you are the very first one in the family to hear the garbage man coming around the corner so very early in the morning.

And you get to announce it to the whole house.

Loudly.

The Big Boy Room had brightly-colored cars and trucks driving around the room on the wallpaper border, Legos on the floor at all times, a huge stuffed dinosaur guarding the bed, and a jigsaw puzzle always occupied the desktop. A dream catcher hung from the bedpost, ready to spirit away bad dreams that hound even the biggest of boys.

He’s ready to catch his own dreams now.

This room down the hall is still occupied by the same boy, who seems to have doubled in size in the time he’s lived there.

The wallpaper is long gone, the Legos have been tucked away in bins and stored in the game room, and I haven’t seen the desktop in years.

Even the garbage man is no longer a source of excitement, but rather someone to grumble at when he comes too early in the morning and disrupts the groggy sleep of a teenager.

There are piles of socks that don’t quite make it to the hamper, posters of bands I can barely stand to listen to, and movie ticket stubs taped to the mirror next to prom pictures and photos of a hero.

Still Big Boy stuff, I suppose.

But the boy that occupies this room? He’s not in there all the time anymore.

He has his driver’s license, his friends, things to do and places to be.

He’s moving on, that Big Boy.

Come September, he’s moving to another Big Boy room in the dorms, with other Big Boys (and girls). He’ll have a mini-fridge, empty pizza boxes, crazy posters, a lava lamp, and a pile of socks that won’t quite make it to the laundry bag.

If he’s unlucky enough to be near the dumpsters, he may even be able to grumble at the garbage man.

And even though the room down the hall will be unoccupied soon, I have a feeling I’ll still find a reason here and there to open the door.

Who knows what memory I’ll see when I peek inside.

They’re all in there still; some buried deeper than others.

Or maybe just buried in socks.

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I am honored to be a featured blogger over at Mamapedia today! I would love for you to stop over there for a moment and read my post Mother of the Year: Before Kids, about what an awesome mom I thought I was. Until I tried it.