Saturday, May 18, 2013

Mile 2013

Mile markers on the highway remind us where we are so we can determine how far we have to go until we reach our destination. Likewise, there are milestones in life that also note our path marking our journey. Graduation is one of those moments. 

I don't remember much about my own high school graduation ceremony. I certainly cannot recall who spoke that day or what inspirational message they gave my class but I do remember with clarity two things: how I felt and who was with me. 

I was surprisingly emotional graduation day. I cried just before my classmates and I filed into our seats. At eighteen I didn't know much about who I was (who does at that age?) but I certainly didn't imagine I was catching a glimpse of the weeper I was to become. I felt the weight of the moment as I sat alphabetically organized between my peers watching a slide show of our previous four years. The moments flashed on and off of the big screen and as I watched, I wept in honor of the moment.

Now kids these days, with their camera phones and Instagram apps, have documented their entire existence with digital photography. The class of 2013 has already seen almost every photo taken of them. My daughter's graduation slide show experience will be very different than mine, as she knows nothing about the mystery of dropping your film off and waiting a week to see what photos develop. So will watching her high school career flash before her eyes be any less dramatic? Or perhaps like mother like daughter, she'll cry too?

It wasn’t a totally sad day though. The day I donned a white cap and gown my closest loved ones were celebrating the moment with me. Like a living film in my mind I can still picture myself flanked on either side by my siblings and parents snapping pictures on a warm, Saturday afternoon. The moment was significant as my loved ones literally gathered around smiling, hugging and congratulating me on the occasion. Regardless of the other 500 classmates, it was quite an intimate celebration and remains impressed in my mind.

Graduation is a most special day because it is one of those mile markers in life. Graduations don't happen frequently. They happen once for most of us and twice if you're a studious type, lucky enough to secure grants and low interest rate loans. But the rarity of a graduation is precisely what makes it momentous. It is like a birth or a wedding in that way. Those rare, beautiful moments compel us to pause, reflect, perhaps shed a tear and surround ourselves with our loved ones. It is part of what makes the human existence so powerful - our ability to share experiences.

This weekend our family is marking the graduation of our first-born. We are thrilled and not unlike my own ceremony twenty-three years ago I am surprisingly verklempt. While the cap and gown hasn't changed over the years, the tradition of tassels and valedictorians remains similar; this moment belongs to my daughter. Instead of being the graduate in the picture, I will be the mom and just like my mother helped me mark the moment I will stand next to my own child while we take photos, smile and place a marker down in the timeline of her life.

Time is passing, I can't stop it. I can't beg it to slow down nor pretend it isn't happening. I can only commit it to memory and be grateful that I am able to witness the moment.

Embrace the markers in your life - the good, bad and otherwise because for however long your life may be, there will always be moments worth recognizing. May we learn from them, photograph them, celebrate or cry for them but never, ever forget that each of your life markers is a reminder of how far you’ve come.

That’s the precise purpose of a mile marker, after all. It may be showing you the spot where mile one ends but it simultaneously points out where the next, new mile begins. So keep moving. Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so! That's why.

(This article is a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series for GateHouse Media's The Review Atlas.) If you liked it - please consider sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or your favorite social media site! Sharing is caring! Thanks for reading.

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