Saturday, June 3, 2017

She's Graduated!!!

Wednesday night, my oldest child graduated high school.  A huge milestone for her and a very emotional one for both of us. I'm one of those who cries at the drop of a hat - I cry watching Cars for goodness sakes, so such an important event in her life left Mom completely frazzled emotionally. Thanks to the person who invented waterproof mascara!!

I now have 9 years to start preparing myself for the next one.. It may take me that long to recover from this one.. 

It's been such an amazing ride to see this young girl progress from a six pound newborn to the young woman she is today.  It took a lot of resilience and determination to make it to the stage last night - her parent's divorcing, multiple moves, leaving friends behind and making new ones, and switching schools in the middle of the school year.

We've been lucky that for the last 6.5 years, we've been at the same military base so that she had the opportunity to be with the same kids from the end of 6th grade until now.  I may hate this base but I am thankful for that for her - it would suck to switch schools during her Senior year and walk with kids she barely knows. My husband had that happen and it's one thing he really regrets.

Senior Sunset - That's Alyssa Front and Center holding the Telescope
The negative side of being on this base is that the closest family she has off base is more than 1500
miles away, some even further.  Many whom cannot physically handle the trip to California, much less afford the transportation costs.  This means that her big celebration would involve less people then it would if we still lived where our family was at.  Alas, the sacrificed a military child makes when their family serves.

However, her father and his family did make the drive from Texas to California to share in her big day and we were happy to have them here.  My ex and I may not have been able to make our marriage work but we both always have Alyssa's best interest in heart. I know it meant a lot to Alyssa to have both her Mom and Dad, along with her Step Parents there to watch her walk, knowing we were all there just for her. 
Alyssa with her Mom and Dad before the Ceremony
Her Graduation also held a lesson in how unexpected the future can be.  On Memorial Day, only a few days before graduation, one of her classmates was hit by a drunk driver.  Luckily, the student survived but he was hospitalized and was unable to physically walk with his class.  I can only imagine what an eye opener that was for the students to know that if that could happen to a very popular football player, it could happen to anyone.

Technology did allow for him to "walk" with his class, however. Technology allowed for another student to "face time" with him on an Ipad for his walk while he sat in a hospital bed.  (The Principal had already hand delivered his diploma earlier that day).

The Commencement Speaker for the night was David D. McBride, the Director of NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center who delivered a fine message about never allowing yourself to be held down.  He spoke about how when he graduated, he was not in the top of his class but instead was near the bottom. He did not receive academic awards, was not a member of the Honor Society or anything to those standards. However, he now holds a position where he only answers to two people, the head of NASA and the President of the United States.   A wonderful message for these students to take away with them as they pursue their own paths.

David D. McBride
I'm sure that many of you have already had graduates. Some of you may have graduated your kids from your homeschool, other's have had them graduate from public schools.  Alyssa has never been homeschooled because her father would have never allowed it. However, regardless of which educational situation a student comes from, I'm sure the feeling is the same. My heart (and my tears) busted forth with pride hearing her name called and seeing her walk across the stage to receive her diploma.

I remember my own graduation so vividly, even 20 years later. I hope these kids also remember theirs years down the road.

The ceremony didn't take near as long as other's I have attended, including my own.  With only 76 students making their walk, it was a very short program. At the conclusion of the ceremony, I went to retrieve me fresh graduate and had the opportunity of being the first of our family to give her a huge hug.  (I don't care if that's being selfish lol).. What I found was a very emotional young lady who was feeling the impact of the realization that high school was over and she wouldn't see many of these students again. She'll hate me for posting this picture, and while it's not the best photograph, I think it captures the moment.

We managed to find a spot outside to take some family photos with our graduate.  Each of us in attendance had some part in making Alyssa into the young woman she is, so it was important to me to have photos of each and every one of us with her.  We took photos of her with my family and her father's family, along with photos of just her with Mom and Dad. We also took photos of her with her two dads, her two moms and with just her step parents, although I do hesitate calling either of them that.  They have impacted her life just as much as myself or Jeremy (her father) have and it feels almost wrong to label them as anything less than her parent as well.

Alyssa with her Father's family
Alyssa with her Mother's Family

With the Step Parents

Alyssa and her two Dads

Alyssa with her two Moms

With her brothers and sisters
Alyssa had the opportunity to pick anywhere she wanted for her celebratory dinner. She decided to give her Dad a "walk on the wild side" and picked eating at our favorite Indian restaurant, Mauli's.  Her father is VERY picky about what he eats - he's basically steak, burgers and potatoes, so Indian cuisine is a bit out of his comfort level. However, the day was all about Alyssa so he was willing to go where she wanted.  It was also a great choice because it wasn't far from the fairground and being that it wasn't a chain restaurant, it meant no waiting for a table.  Everyone had an enjoyable meal and her Dad even admitted that his food was really good.

Many split families can't find a way to come together, even for important dates for their child's life, whether it be graduation, a wedding, a birth of a grandchild, ect.  I am so glad that my ex and I can put aside hurt feelings and the past to provide a unified front for my daughter on such an important day.  We have spent the last week together as one big family, our kids playing together, sharing meals and sitting around my house talking and enjoying each other's company.  I know my daughter will never have to worry about the stress or the "what if" when we all come together, because she knows she's important enough to all of us to be there for her.

There's still some discussion as to what Alyssa would like to do post graduation.  For now, she's possibly going to take a "gap year", take a couple of courses she wasn't able to take in high school (Spanish 2 and Algebra 2) and then possible find a 4 year University that offers ROTC.  There's also been discussion about her possibly joining the United States Air Force.  I do know that I am not in a hurry for her to "fly the nest" just yet and whatever she does decide, she will continue to have a home here with us.

Congrats to all those graduating in 2017, whether it be Kindergarten, Middle School, High School or College.  And I hope each and every one of you have family that love you just as much as we love our daughter.

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