I’ve been to a few of these, including five of my own. All with mixed emotions of hurray and what-the-hell-is-waiting-for-me-now? But I’d never been to one as a parent.
It freaks you out. You completely change into a dress-wearing person. Something that my Chapstick type of personality isn’t too comfortable with, but you go with it. And then aside from transforming your wardrobe, your attitude also begins changing. You notice certain feelings taking over you as you see the school program with your kids name on it.
You really don’t want to turn into that crazed photo mom whose big head comes out in everyone’s picture. You really don’t want to be the kind of annoying person you write about. So you restrain yourself. You check your crazy at the door. After all it’s preschool. Get a grip. Coloring, cutting on the dotted line, and Llama, Llama Red Pajama. Nevertheless I found myself calling this a milestone moment in his mini life, sort of like walking and getting potty trained. In parent world this is big.
So I struggled with my crazy. I never had to do that before, usually I let my freak flag fly. But this was no freak flag, this was annoying crazy parent flag and you need to check that quick. You don’t want to regret anything later that day. You know yourself. So I sat there with mixed feelings about the whole thing. I mean I don’t know what the other Children of the Corn photo crazed parents were feeling at the time, probably no shame seeing how most of their heads with bad hair and ginormous cameras showed up in many of my shots. But all I know was that in the end I was proud to have not gone over the crazy parent cliff.
I was also surprised that I had become sappy. Not balling out soap-opera crying sappy, or the beautiful teary-eyed single drop creeping out of the corner sappy. Just the internal, pensive kind, with emotions swirling about which started when I saw him walk down the aisle in his miniature cap and gown. I thought Holy Crap! He’s going to be strolling down the aisle in another cap and gown in 2025 and then I’ll probably be a real sap. Dude it was like last week when I was cursing up a storm dropping the F-Bomb every five minutes during labor down at Catholic hospital down the street. Just last week, I thought.
But then he smiled at me and it was all good. I was still a little sappy, but I put it in perspective. I’d been mindfully present in the moments that mattered … the sand castle building, the Lego constructing, the pizza making, the stay-at-home movie night going, the family game night doing, the bike riding adventuring, the museum experiencing, the zoo exploring, the superhero pretending, and the night-time story reading. I’d been present the whole time.
Exhausted? Yes. In need of wine and chocolate during the quiet of the night. Definitely.
But also present, and not just going through the motions. There, I was there and enjoying it. So I decided to start mindfully enjoying the graduation, and stop thinking about the future, stop thinking sappy, and stop thinking about the crazy parents surrounding me.
Once I stopped, it ended up being a good day.