Ultimately, it’s the boredom that saves us.

Watching Xander get dressed, walking into the arena, hugging my friends who also have kids graduating— it all made me teary. So much so, that I was afraid I’d be a red-faced soggy mess by the end of the ceremony and spend the rest of the evening nursing a crying headache.

But the endless procession of graduates entering the arena, the orchestra playing “Pomp and Circumstance” over and over and over, the long listing of names… it saves the weepy moms every time.

My Instagram feed was filled last week with photos of preschool, kindergarten, elementary and jr. high graduations– all with similar captions, “I’m so sad now. I can’t imagine what it will be like when he/she actually graduates.”

Well, let me tell you. Pretty sad. But you’d better not make that your IG caption or you’ll be accused by the mob of holding your kid back or not dealing well with change.

One of my friends texted me last week asking, “Why isn’t is socially acceptable to be sad about my son’s graduation?”

“I’m kind of a mess right now… ” she went on, “So many emotions! It is wonderful and exciting and he’s ready and I can’t wait to watch his life unfold, and I’m realizing that there’s real grief involved with the changes that will happen, especially in our little family with the children all so close in age. I feel like somehow it’s expected for me to be just happy, which I am, but I’m also mourning the end of my time with him at home.”

And now I’m teary again.

But the actual ceremony– no one was crying at the end. The talks were fantastic, the music stellar, the cheers for each graduate heartening, but no one can sustain the feelings of “I’m so sad” during the hour-long reading of names. Something else creeps in to take sorrow’s place: joy, accomplishment, or maybe just simple relief that it’s almost over.

And maybe that’s the point of the ceremony, and of the fuss and bother of getting those last few credits and the often stressful feelings during senior year. We need the pain and the boredom to push us to the next stage.

And while I know Xander’s life often looks perfect, rest assured he had at least his fair share (and probably a little more) of heartache and injustice and simple missed deadlines. But I am SO PROUD of who he has become. On the last day of school, the students gathered in seminary to give advice to the classes below them. Xander said, “You’ll regret being mean to people. But you’ll never, ever regret being nice.”

I could annoy you all by listing his accomplishments, but I think this note scrawled in his yearbook from someone I don’t know sums it up best:

Xander, whenever I needed a friendly smile and someone to talk to, I turned to you. Thanks for listening.

My darling boy, I think you learned the most important lesson of all.

June 5, 2017