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Post-Graduation and not Looking for The Moment

Post-Graduation and not Looking for The Moment

By Mir Kamin

I kept waiting for The Moment, y’know? I had tissues tucked in my bag. I expected to cry. I expected this grand moment of this is it! where everything changed and it hit me like a ton of bricks and I wouldn’t be able to catch my breath under the weight of it. First I thought it would happen with her 18th birthday, and when it didn’t, I figured it would at graduation. It had to. That would be it: adulthood is here, any way you slice it. Full stop. So I sat at commencement with my family and waited for The Moment.

Like most high school graduations, my daughter’s was crowded and noisy and a little too long. It was hard to see her, and when we did, she looked bored. “I should’ve changed my name!” she’d joked, after they had their rehearsal. “I’m not sitting next to anyone I know!” After forever—or at least what felt like forever—students began crossing the stage. Finally, she was there, still looking slightly aggravated, but then… a small smile for the principal. Diploma in hand. Crossing the stage, and down the steps, and… a smile for the photographer! Well, then. My eyes stayed clear and dry.

My phone buzzed. “She smiled in her pic!” One of her teachers, directing traffic on that side of the stage, took a moment to text just in case we hadn’t seen. I showed my husband. We both grinned at my phone and each other. And then she was gone, lost in a sea of identical mortarboards as she made her way back to her seat.

After, we wandered through the crowd, looking for her, trying to remember where we’d agreed to meet. Once she was found, there were hugs (ours) and irritation (hers) and we made our way over to the band area to see her beloved band director, and the next thing we knew, he’d swept her up in a giant hug, and then, then, my eyes stung and I blinked back tears, yes, but also I was laughing and watching her reaction, and asking for pictures. A few blinks later, I was steady again. We snapped a few frames and then she was off once more, finding friends, making plans, and we were left, dry-eyed, ready to head back home and prepare to host some friends for a small celebration that evening.

We took more pictures, and set out food, and greeted folks, and passed the rest of the day with low-key merriment. Once it was over, I mostly just felt tired. She did, too, I could tell. Everyone collapsed into bed and the next day—while family left to journey back home—we watched TV and ate leftovers and refused to get dressed. It was just like every other lazy Sunday. It didn’t feel different. Nothing had changed, really, except now my child (who is no longer a child) is a high school graduate.

Graduating from high school did not make her more likely to pick her socks up off the floor… or stop her from dancing around the house before flopping onto my lap for a cuddle (thank goodness).

The following day involved a little of this and a little of that and also felt unremarkable. Today, we had local elections. It was her first time voting, and we went together. We took a selfie together, after. Was that The Moment? I didn’t cry. It was a First but not The Ultimate First, if that makes sense. She’d already been 18 for a month. Was voting bigger than graduating? Who knows.

Tomorrow, she’ll have her wisdom teeth removed. (“Happy Graduation! Open wide!!”) I’ll get to baby her for a few days. We have already stocked up on ice cream and pudding and Jell-O. With any luck, she’ll feel up to some Netflix marathons. The whirlwind pace of the school year meant we had to put this off until now, but now the goal is to get it done (and get her recovered) so she still has time to work before she leaves for college. Maybe that will be The Moment? When we drive away from her dorm? Surely, that will smack me right between the eyes.

People keep asking me how I’m “holding up.” How I’m holding up is that I am still celebrating that we’re here, in this place of utter normalcy, and at the same time, I’ve had a year to pinch myself and believe it’s true. I’ve had enough annoyances and power struggles to be glad she’s leaving soon. And I’ve had enough “oh my gosh I really just like this kid so much” stretches to be sad she’s leaving soon. But the bottom line is still that she is… herself, and progressing along the path she wants, and I still see every step as a victory.

There was no one moment. All the moments add up to each next moment, which is somehow then both familiar and novel, regular and amazing. She didn’t become an adult overnight. Graduating from high school did not make her more likely to pick her socks up off the floor or less likely to argue with me just for the heck of it or stop her from dancing around the house before flopping onto my lap for a cuddle (thank goodness). She still doesn’t want to clean out her closet and if I work too late into the evening she will hover in the doorway, suggesting that what I really want to do is take a break and watch TV with her.

The tissues are still in my purse. I’ve yet to feel a mystical Moment With A Capital M where everything clicks and gut-punches me. This kid—excuse me, adult—has never done anything the “regular” way, so why would she start, now? Her whole life has been moments I’d never anticipated, and I’m sure there’s more to come. And who says there has to be some pivotal moment where everything changes, anyway? That seems unrealistic.

Maybe some of the upcoming changes and moments will require tissues. Maybe they won’t. I’m not worried.

Mir Kamin
About the Author

Mir Kamin

Mir Kamin began writing about her life online over a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now ...

Mir Kamin began writing about her life online over a decade ago, back when she was a divorced mom trying to raise two regular little kids and figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now her life looks very different than it did back then: Those little kids turned into anything-but-regular teenagers, she is remarried, and somehow she’s become one of those people who talks to her dogs in a high-pitched baby voice. Along the way she’s continued chronicling the everyday at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, plus she’s bringing you daily bargain therapy at Want Not. The good news is that Mir grew up and became a writer and she still really likes hanging out with her kids; the bad news is that her hair is a lot grayer than it used to be.

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  • Tara

    You nailed it. It will happen when you pull away from the dorm and the days that follow. I speak not from experience (because mine are still toddlers) but because I am the oldest of three kids in my family. My mom once told me, “IT FELT LIKE YOU DIED! I kept setting the table for five… and then removing a plate and crying!”

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  • Cindy DeOms

    Funny how those moments seem only come when you don’t expect and aren’t prepared. I didn’t get emotional when my oldest graduated (high school or college) or even got married. One of my dearest friends politely told me to shut up and quit being a bitch about the fact that her attendants kept on with the makeup-ing thing until I was pulling my hair out. Her wedding, her timing. Labor and birth were hard to watch her go through but mostly because I was overcome with an overwhelming desire to DO IT FOR HER. The totally not possible and also slightly ridiculous. I think I just wanted to alleviate her pain so bad. Her 25th birthday was surprisingly emotional for me but more in wonderment kind of way. Then she was widowed a year and a half ago and I still can’t even type that without crying. She will be 30 this year so maybe I should buy stock in the tissue industry.

  • Karen Reznek

    Save those tissues for when you drive away from her college dorm. That is the beginning of the end. Congratulations on reaching all of those milestones.

  • Lori O

    I cried last year at graduation, I won’t lie. And I’m not a crier. But I SOBBED when I hugged her goodbye in her dorm room. Her eyes were already swollen from the sobbing she’d done as she’d hugged her dad and then her brother first…and they, too, were both red eyed. We were a MESS. But that’s not “the moment” either, I don’t think. I, oddly, had the moment some time in March, I think it was, when I realized that as much as I’m looking forward to having her home for the summer, it’s not going to be the same. That it won’t ever be. That things changed, shifted seismically, but I was only feeling the aftershock. I’d somehow missed the quake itself. (C’mon, you gotta admit, not a bad metaphor from a Southern Californian, right?)