Sunday, September 13, 2020

First you have to find yourself

Originally published in The Miami News-Record, May 2019 

My final kid graduates tomorrow. She completed her Junior and Senior years this year and is enrolled at Crowder for the fall. It’s been a busy time since March finalizing everything and getting things ready. We are building her an apartment in the south half of our house, so on top of school stuff we now have added construction stuff. It’s been a whirlwind to be honest.  I haven’t really known how to feel about her graduating. I didn’t get particularly emotional when the other two graduated and haven’t really felt too emotional with this one either. Since she’s not really leaving the nest just yet like her siblings did, I can save the empty nesting for another time. So yeah, I think I’m handling it. 

Graduation is an exciting time. I didn’t have a really great Senior year and not a lot of super awesome memories from that time, but I remember standing on that precipice between childhood and adulthood and being SO READY for whatever was next. I had bounced from one career dream and college major to another about a dozen times - from lawyer, to judge, to teacher, to actress and a few more that year. I started NEO that fall as a Theatre major. One semester in I woke up and realized I wasn’t going to make it as an actress, I had very little support for my education and I dropped out. I went to work in a daycare, moved to Stillwater, worked in a grocery store, moved home, met my husband, got married, and well, voila. I am now a mom with three adult children, two grandkids, a husband of 26 years, a job I adore, and life is good. I was a stay-at-home mom for roughly 20 years, homeschooling seven of them, and I got to help raise a few other people’s kids over the years as their babysitter. I don’t have a giant resume to show off, but I have had the most gratifying time “growing up.” 

My mom worked for an attorney in Miami, Mr. James Reed, for several years and I worked for him a few summers. He was a daunting man, very authoritative, and formidable. He, however, had a heart for seeing people succeed. Inside the card he sent me for graduation he wrote, “First you have to find yourself. For some it is not easy. Accept trial and error.” I kept the card in its entirety for years, eventually just cutting out a square around his words and laminating it. Right now it hangs on a magnet board on my bathroom wall and I see it every day. It has hung in a prominent place in my home for 29 years now. And it is the best piece of advice I’ve gotten regarding the future. 

I’ve tried to make sure my own kids have always known that it is 100% okay to just not know. It’s 100% okay to try - and fail. It’s 100% to start over - repeatedly if you have to. And as my youngest child, my wild child, my “she definitely keeps life interesting” child is about to embark on her own journey into adulthood, I hope she can remember that because Lord knows her momma is the queen of starting over and the whole try-and-fail thing. She’s amazing and confident and crazy smart, so I think she’ll embrace it just fine. And I hope her daddy and I have created a soft, safe place for her to land if she needs to. 

Kadybugg, I cannot wait to see how this plays out. I hope you sincerely enjoy the journey of finding yourself. It’s been a pleasure seeing you grow and learn and bend us all to your will. You are a whirlwind of kindness, belligerence, strength, beauty, compassion, and empathy. I am so proud of you and the woman you have become. 

Happy Graduation to all the graduates. Y’all are gonna change the world. And I love that. Be kind. Be you. Be Love. 

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