Doing a Job Right

SusieGuest Blogger Susanne Deitermann is the Director of Evaluation and Assessment at The Edge, and has been with us for four years.  She is an avid fitness enthusiast, and loves good movies, books, and snacks.

“To all of the parents of seniors, or who have had graduation parties in the past, and I thought the parties were no big deal, my apologies.”

That sentence was my recent “status update” on my Facebook page.
Even though I had been a valued helper at my cousin’s three daughters’ grad parties, a niece’s party, and my two nephews’ parties, I still didn’t “get” it, until it was time for me to have a graduation party for my own daughter.

In Minnesota, graduation parties are a tradition.
From an outside helper’s perspective, the parties looked like no big deal. Make some food, fill the coolers, cut the grass.

But, from the inside, there is much more to a graduation party. I admit it. I didn’t understand when my cousin Lori said “you will feel a sense of relief when it’s over,” or when my friend Linda said “I can’t wait until I have this party behind me!”

I understand now.

There are the invitations, the decorations, the lawn, the flowers, the planting, the painting, the ordering, the ice (never enough ice), the food, the tent, the tables, the tablecloths, the flowers, the pictures…

It’s difficult to understand until you’re there.

I believe it’s like that with everything when it comes to parenting.
It’s difficult to understand until you’re there.

Not long ago, a friend said to me “when you get to each stage, you are ready for it, and so are they.”

For us, so far, this has been true.

When my daughter went to preschool, I was ready, she was ready, and I was grateful for two hours to myself.
When she started elementary school, I was sad, but we were ready.
When I no longer needed a babysitter, whew!…just in time.
When she got her license (terrifying)—but Halleluiah, yay!… no more driving everywhere, all the time!

And, now, that she has graduated, she is ready for the next stage.
We are ready for the next stage.

When she was 2, I read an article in The New York Times by Anna Quindlen called “The Days of Gilded Rigatoni.”

From Ms. Quindlen’s Mother’s Day story, the sentence that has carried me through the bittersweet parenting moments over the years, is this one:
Each year, we move a little closer to the sidelines of their lives, which is where we belong, if we do our job right.

I have heard that the summer after our children graduate can be rough as they are adjusting to a newfound independence.
Indeed, we are making adjustments. I have also heard that these “adjustments” are what help us say goodbye in the fall.

And, I have heard that “The BIG Cry” comes on the drive home after dropping them off at school.

At a recent graduation party, a father and I were talking about the so-called “BIG Cry.” I knew he had two children already in college, so I listened intently when he told me “It’s hard. Yes, you’ll cry. My only advice to you is to make sure you are the one who walks away, not the other way around.”

As I prepare for the rest of the summer, and get ready to take her to her college orientation… and while the ominous “BIG Cry” looms on the horizon, I think about how quickly the time has gone.
I know people tell us this, and we all know it’s true, but like the graduation party…you don’t really understand until you experience it.

I am one of the lucky ones. I have a daughter who will be a junior next year, so I am looking forward to one-on-one time with her. Time without her older sister looming in the vicinity. It will be a shift, and it will be an opportunity for us to be together—in a whole new way.

She will help me get through, until it’s time to do it all again in 2013.

Yes, Anna Q. had it right.
Each year, we do move closer to the sidelines of their lives, if we do our jobs right.

And now, here I am, on the sidelines, hoping…
that I did.

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One Response to Doing a Job Right

  1. “Each year, we move a little closer to the sidelines of their lives, which is where we belong, if we do our job right.” My dad asked a friend how he felt about X going to Y university. X’s dad answered “You hope that you have taught them all they need to know.” It’s a sobering time of realizing you are not everpresent for much longer.

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