By Maggie Beamguard
Graduation season has arrived. I’ve attended a few commencement ceremonies through the years — my sisters’, a few friends’, my own, even as a guest on the platform.
If we are honest, graduations can be tortuous affairs.
The crowd endures lengthy if not heartfelt speeches and a colossal litany of names in anticipation of the one brief moment when their graduate’s name is announced, hopefully correctly. The student’s march across the stage is fleeting. With a handshake and a photo op with a dummy degree, they have done it. Exit stage right into a vast, promising future.
For the first time, I’m about to attend a graduation for a human being I created.
Our daughter will walk across the stage at Pinecrest High School in June along with her distinguished classmates. I freely admit I’m infinitely more invested in her moment than anyone else.
As the first one to look into her eyes, I’ve kept my close eye on her for 17 years. Through all the early sleepless nights to the late nights waiting for her to safely come home, I’ve worried over, nurtured through and loved-on this child. Now I watch her step out on her own.
The scenes of her childhood flash frequently as the big day draws close. I see her smiling up from her crib, gripping fast to my hand on the way to preschool, bringing home pockets full of rocks collected from the playground, learning how to ride a bike, catching fireflies, sleeping soundly, singing that solo at the school festival.
With the precious memories come a few unpleasant ones too — the feverish nights with a bucket nearby, the skinned knees, the hurt feelings and the rolls of the eyes.
This one instant feels too small to contain 17 years of love and learning, toil and tears, hopes and fears, achievements and let downs, countless practices, games, performances, projects, prayers, papers and tests of knowledge, character and friendship.
It’s why I’m planning to bring the Kleenex. Only a stoic could witness such a moment and not feel a lump in the throat or tears welling in the eyes. At least I won’t be the only one.
We didn’t arrive here on our own and thank goodness for that. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, church members, friends and perhaps most important of all — teachers — guided our grad.
But when the Class of 2023 switches their tassels, I hope they do so with a sense of great personal accomplishment. Not many generations can say their formative teenage years were disrupted by a pandemic. One week they were rounding the corner of their freshman year spring break, and the next they were grounded at home with laptop computers. Their most normal year of high school was this senior year.
So they will be walking across the stage, throwing caps in the air and breathing a sigh of relief from now-unmasked faces. Bravo, kids. You’ve shown us what it means to be resilient.
This moment is your triumph, your teachers’ success story and your parents’ bittersweet joy.
Contact Maggie Beamguard at email@example.com.