I have finally made it to May in the year 2016. I almost cannot believe this time has finally come. My son is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
This is going to be a very memorable time in my son Zack’s life. This is the start of his transformation completely into adulthood. It is a time he can be so proud of his achievements, made even more important because of his struggles to get through four years at a pretty hard school. I am not sure what road he will be yet to take. He is eager to leave school behind at the moment but down the road he may want his master’s degree. It all depends what line of works he applies his chemistry degree and where that takes him. In our lives we jump roads many times to find our own path and our search for self- satisfaction and exploration. My children are very aware that I support them completely on their goals and their personal journey’s they must take as only they can know what truly makes them happy.
But this day is so much more than just for my son. It is for my husband and I as well. My son will learn to appreciate it more and more as time goes on and he matures. We all know as we age we appreciate the things we have taken for granted in the past. My daughters who are 28 and 25 have started already to thank me over and over for the gift of education I gave them and how I made it pretty easy for them to obtain it. They just had to do the work. This makes me so happy to hear these things and I know it is the reason my daughters are so successful. We base success on happiness and fulfillment. They are strong, independent woman who have chased down their dreams far from home.
Ashley received a degree in Wildlife Biology from Purdue University and won awards for her undergraduate research and had some of her work published. She then proceeded to travel the world doing research projects that lasted a few months at a time. When a salamander project brought her to the gulf coast of Florida in 2012 she fell in love with the area and a man. As fate turned out as she attempted to get a permanent job there, she became a high school AP biology and marine science teacher. She never saw that road coming and neither did I. She had never mentioned teaching before. She has found so much fulfillment being a teacher and the kids adore her. They can relate to her and she inspires them as she was a teen not that long ago herself. To be given AP classes only her second year of teaching and to receive the praise she has from her evaluations has caused her to consider returning to school for a master’s degree in teaching environmental science. Whatever she decides I am so proud of her.
My middle child, my daughter Kirsten, also graduated with a biology degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She loves animals as well but is particularly horse crazy and wanted to work with horses as a career. She is on her 3rd position since graduation which has taken her to the south. She specializes in horse breeding and is now working for a prominent family and farm. She works long hours and it is hard work and at times can be dangerous. She has been rushed to the ER in the past after being trampled. She has spent time up all night waiting to deliver a foal as part of the job and then starting her shift in the a.m. Working on a farm is a hard life but she wouldn’t want to do anything else. Sitting in an office was never going to be her cup of tea and I admire her so much. In a way, my child achieved my childhood dream that I never chased.
And so as my son, my last born to graduate college, my husband and I are experiencing one of our proudest, happiest moments in life. It is not just his achievements but OUR achievement of a consistent, straight, 10 years of college tuition, dorm rooms, apartment rentals, expenses, books, emotional support and stress. I feel that we are graduating. Graduating into financial freedom, graduating into “we did it” syndrome, graduating into the right to take a long exhale and flop on the couch and put our feet up. OK, we just got back from a trip to Jamaica as our first treat to pat ourselves on the back and celebrate a friends birthday. The timing wasn’t the best but I said “aww heck, we deserve this.” I look forward to this second stage of my life and I truly feel this is the beginning of something new. We can focus on ourselves now. We can start making plans for our future and where we want be and what we want to do down the road. It is a rebirth if you will for 2 people who are only in their upper 40’s and feel like we are 10 years younger. I have taken up horseback riding again and work with a trainer every week. My husband sold his small fishing boat and just bought the big boat he has been dreaming of for so long. He chickened out of buying brand new but he is so excited and I look forward to tubing and skiing on it. Just all of our dreams are coming true and we still look so forward to our children expanding our family one day!
So back to graduation. What an exciting time. We made it! I will be making my son a keepsake kit of his graduation just like I did for my daughters. I have them stored under the bed and one day when they have their own homes I will pass these on to them for storage and they will really appreciate the artifacts kept in them as well as their robes and ribbons and pictures. Show your child you are proud of them. Do everything you can for them and you will be paid back ten-fold. Help your children achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours! If you have a graduate of your own this year, CONGRATULATIONS mom and dad. This is YOUR achievement too!