Posts Tagged ‘graduation’

A while back, I posted about the Joy Project, finding and recording things that brought me joy, things to focus on that help to offset the craziness in the world in order to center and not let the bad things get me down. There have been a lot of things bothering me lately: a huge lack of manners in people, the government, work issues, the government, rude teenagers in public places, the government, serious world issues… you get the idea. And while these things deserve attention, if I let them take up all of my thoughts and time, I’d forget why I’m here in the first place. You have to step back sometimes and find the joy because life can’t be all about gloom and doom.

I haven’t been very good at writing down my joys, which was the original intent, but I have been doing a better job at looking for the little joys every day. Still, now that it’s summer and I have a couple of weeks off, I’m going to try to get back into the habit again, starting now. These are a few of the joys I’ve had in my life lately, big and small:

Free time. I usually love being busy, I love feeling useful, and relaxing usually makes me feel guilty. This summer, I am consciously, selfishly, enjoying the time I have off.

Middle Child graduated. Few things compare to seeing your child in a cap and gown. It’s a very concrete ending to childhood and a proud moment for us.

Dates/quality time with my husband. We’re so busy during the school year that it’s hard to find time for us, but lately, we’ve made spending time together more of a priority. It’s a very good thing.

My teenage boys. I know, it sounds contradictory, but as my boys get older, I enjoy them more every day. It’s a different level of parenting now. I loved having squishy babies and snuggly toddlers, but seeing my boys mature into adults is amazing. Conversations can definitely get interesting.

Writing. Editing a completed novel, beginning a new one, and not too worried about balancing the time involved.

A new tattoo. I’ve been wanting to cover up an old (ugly) one for a long time now and took the plunge to trust an artist and get a little color. Still very fresh at less than two days old, but happy to have it done.

Hedgie snuggles. Allegra wasn’t around when I started this project. but she is definitely one of my big joys. My little ball of prickles is quite the cuddler and an endless source of entertainment.


Little black squirrels. The first time I saw a little black squirrel, I thought it was the cutest thing ever and wished that they lived in my yard. They’ve been slowly spreading out ever since, getting closer to my house, and just a few days ago, I SAW ONE IN MY YARD!!! Definitely a joy.

Travel + family. A couple of months ago, I was able to join my cousin and her kids in South Carolina. (See my earlier post for more on that.) This was a double joy, going somewhere new and beautiful and getting to catch up with far-flung loved ones.


Theater. I’ve done a lot more of it this year and while that has definitely contributed to time crunches, it has also helped me grow in a lot of ways, including my self-confidence. I’ve gotten braver, both on stage and off, thanks in part to a super-supportive theater community who makes me feel loved.

I’ll leave it there for now. This is a good start for my list and I’ll catch it up as time goes on.

I’d love to know what the joys are in your life. Feel free to comment and spread it around. We could all use a little more joy in our lives.


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I took Oldest Child to a college open house today, an event made more fun because it’s the college where I went my first year out of high school, Wayne State University. Wayne State is located in downtown Detroit and is in the middle of the New Center area, which encompasses the theatre and museum district. made up of buildings both old and new. Old Main, the oldest surviving building with it’s Hogwarts-like hallways, is where I spent some of my happiest hours taking theatre classes while the Student Center, the hub of student life, is currently getting a well-deserved makeover. It’s a wonderfully spread-out campus full of people, skyline, and general busyness that accompanies a big city. I absolutely loved it when I was there and really wish I hadn’t screwed it up, but I don’t want this to be about me today. This is about the journey that he is taking and where he’ll be a year from now.

Wayne State is one of the colleges that Oldest Child is seriously considering. He loves that it’s in an urban area and that the program he’s applying to has a heavy concentration on community service and social programs. He wants to give back to the community, social justice being a special interest of his. Detroit is a good place to exercise that. We don’t go downtown often. The cost of parking is a deterrent and I don’t like big events like sporting events or concerts, but we have been to the DIA, the Renaissance Cen, and other odd occasions, not to mention my penchant for attracting jury duty notices. Still, he feels a pull toward a big city, like me. We went on the official tour last spring. A bouncy little coed took us all around campus, including the new dorms. Wayne has transformed from a commuter college into a residential one and judging from their enrollment numbers, it’s been a successful transition. As I said, he is considering other places, too, but Wayne seems to be a heavy contender.

As we walked around, I had some deja vu moments that were quite unexpected and lovely. Is it possible to get excited about the card machine that used to be in the parking garage more than twenty years ago, or the small stone stairway down to the Studio Theatre? It was all new to him, though, and I enjoyed seeing it through his eyes. On the spring tour, I could see his mind putting himself on campus, in the dorm that we toured and the buildings we passed through. I could see him getting excited about the opportunities open to him and, yes, the prospect of being on his own, free from parental rule

A senior in high school is a wonderful thing, if one is academically sound and well-rounded. Oldest Child is both of those and so we expect some good things to open up. We want that for him, this chance to learn at a respected college and to fly free. His brothers just want his room. Unlike me, he put his nose to the grindstone in high school. He got a B+ once and was teased mercilessly. It never happened again. The cool part is that we never pushed him to this, only to do his best. He has always known what he wants to do in life and he knows that the way to get there is to work hard. This apparently does not extend to putting his laundry away or taking his junk off of the living room chair, but in school, he’s a rock star. He’s had this drive since he was small and it’s now beginning to reward him.

I know that most parents are proud of their kids. Marty and I are no exception. Like all parents, we want better for our children than what we had, but at the same time, we want them to learn how to succeed on their own, without coddling him or fighting his battles. We have never bailed him out of anything, but tried to let his consequences teach him the lesson. Oldest Child is doing a good job of handling things so far, researching not only colleges and their programs, but financial aid packages and scholarships.

Now I know that college is a different world. I’ll begin preparing him for that this year. He’ll begin doing his own laundry and keeping his room neater, as he will most likely have a roommate, and he already pays for his extras himself with his part-time job. Some kids, bright kids, fall instead of fly during that first year, giving in to the temptations that will surround them in a residential hall. I hope he doesn’t fall. I hope that we’ve given him enough of a good foundation from which he can make good choices, but ultimately that’s just it: they’re his choices now. Eighteen is just around the corner and we won’t have a say anymore. He will be able to work any job he wants, live wherever he wants, smoke cigarettes (please, God, no), get a tattoo, even get married. (Again, please, God, no.) He’ll be a, gulp, adult in the eyes of the law and we’ll just be there for emotional support.

It doesn’t seem possible. When the nurse hands that squalling baby to you in the delivery room, she doesn’t tell you how fast it will go by, how fast he’ll turn from helpless, snuggly, baby to defiant toddler to independent student to defiant teenager and then they walk away. Not forever, I know he’ll be back no matter where he goes, but this will be his time to grow and to shine, to become the person he was meant to be. He’ll never be ours again. From college on, it will be different.

Sometimes, I want that little boy back. You know, the one who squealed with excitement over making friends with a bug on the sidewalk or danced around the living room in his kilt and tam from Scotland. Tight hugs and sticky, but wonderful, kisses, boo boos, and bedtime stories are replaced by a young man with stubble on his chin and a deep voice whose shoes are bigger than yours. The hugs are still wonderful, but those chubby arms have grown into muscular ones.

But then, there’s that light in his eyes that shines as he explores his potential new home. That light that tells you that even though the two of you may still fight over keeping his phone and ipod downstairs at night (a family rule), he’s almost ready to fly, to begin his own life. And somehow, even though you still don’t want to let him go, you’re okay with that.

For him, you have to be.

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