The (Junior High) Graduate

On Friday, my First Baby graduated from junior high. I had been on an emotional roller coaster in anticipation of the event for weeks. It was very much like the summer before he started Kindergarten. I cried for an entire MONTH that summer. Every time I would think about leaving my son in a classroom with a bunch of people he didn’t know, I would begin to sob.
And for the past few weeks, every time I would think about that same little boy walking across a stage to receive his promotion certificate, I would cry.
I was pretty much alone on The Emotional Roller Coaster, because My Baby’s Daddy is one of Those Men who do not cry.
Crying is for wimps! Men do not cry! If I cry you will think that I am weak!
He has had a few moments in which a tear has formed in his eye and rolled down his cheek, like when he watched my vagina stretch to the size of a pumpkin as our babies were born, or when Shelby died on Steel Magnolias. And I swear, each and every of those 6 times that I saw him (almost) cry, I started sobbing because “oh my God, it’s so beautiful when you show me you’re emotions!”
Last week, we were sitting on (not) our bed talking about various things—like all of the Car Accident Drama (because OMG, there is drama, people.), how much we hate our insurance company (which rhymes with Jerk-ury), Kobe Bryant and our children.. My husband began talking about our oldest son and how hard it is for him to believe that our first baby was graduating from junior high.
All of a sudden, he started to cry.
I mean, really cry.
And because I honestly can not watch my husband cry without breaking the hell down, I started to cry with him.
We just sat there and wept about how fast our First Baby has grown. We talked about all of the thousands of memories we’ve made with him over the past 14 years. We sobbed as we pondered how the saying “enjoy them while their little” is so cliché, but so damn true. Because one day he was running around in his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles jumpsuit showing off his killer ninja moves and we blinked our eyes and he was filling out high school paperwork and checking “Military” as his career choice. (But let’s not even TALK ABOUT THAT right now.)
We sat there talking, crying and laughing about this beautiful child that we conceived in love—the child who was obsessed with Snow White as a toddler and would cry and scream at nap time because he wanted to watch “Hi Ho!” The child who really isn’t a child anymore, but a budding young man, with a fuzz’stache and Man Voice who will be walking onto a high school campus as a freshman in just a few short weeks.
We talked about his promotion ceremony. How would we feel when they called his name? I predicted we would cry, because if just thinking about it made us sob like sissies, how could we NOT cry in the actual moment?
Friday came and that moment I had imagined in my mind for the past few weeks finally happened. I was sitting there, with my good for nothing camera, waiting for them to call his name. Tony started poking me on the shoulder.
“There he is, Y. There’s our boy!”
I turned to my right and saw my son standing there, looking all handsome (and awkward) in white shirt and tie. I felt this wave of emotion take over my entire body. I took a deep breath, expecting to break down in tears.
But I didn’t. Instead, I felt this unspeakable joy.
And love.
And pride.
They called his name from the loud speaker. I jumped up out of my seat and started to cheer as he walked across the gym floor.
“Whooo! Hoooo! Way to go Andrew! WHOOOO!”
I was so excited and caught up in the moment that I almost forgot to take a picture.
Luckily I was able to snap this picture (with my piece of crap camera) before it was too late.

I’m a little sad this is the only shot I got of that moment. Because that’s a moment that I never want to forget, for as long as I live.
I don’t write much about my son on this blog, and some may think it’s because I don’t love him as much as I love my daughter, but those people would be so very wrong. I stopped writing about my son when he stopped being a little boy and started being a young man out of respect for his privacy. I don’t ever want my son to hate me because of a blawwwg. But, today I’m making an exception. Because promotion from junior high is a milestone that must be acknowledged and because I am so proud of that kid and the man he is shaping up to be.
(I’ll have to ask for his forgiveness about the “Hi! Ho!” reference, though. Thanks to Joelle for pointing THAT out.)
That young man, whether he knows it or not, holds a huge chunk of my heart in his still growing hands, because no matter how grown he is, in my eyes, he will forever be the baby that made me a mother.

The Proud Mama with The Junior High Graduate

59 thoughts on “The (Junior High) Graduate

  1. Michelle

    I can emphathize.
    My oldest is a Senior and my daughter will be a Freshman. Talk about an emotional roller-coaster!
    Your such a good Mom, Y!

  2. erika

    I hate you right now. That picture of him when he was Sammy’s age? And pictures of him all grown up? I was hoping to make it through today without crying, and look at what you went and did!
    Wah. I’m going to go wake up my son from his nap so I can snuggle him while he’s still small enough to let me.

  3. angie

    Y, There is NO WAY that anyone who reads your balawwwg would EVER think that you do not love each of your kids with all your heart and soul!! If I took nothing else from reading you, I KNOW that. Sometimes, I question whether I love my kids enough after I read your blog.
    You should be proud! He is a handsome boy and with you two for parents, he should be a successful man.
    I’ve watched one of my three “graduate” from 8th grade now and it was hard. I have two more to go. Sooner than that though, I’ll have on graduating high school. (in 2 years! OMG!!!)
    Just know, there are others out here sharing in your pride and sadness with our own kids.

  4. ishouldbeworking

    My heartstrings were tugged in empathy…or maybe it’s ‘cuz my daughter is going into 8th grade this fall and is very close to that same point *sigh* I can still remember her first day of preschool

  5. NYCrystal

    Gosh, you made me cry. Today was the first field trip that my 6yr old has in his summer day camp and they’re going swimming. I am totally freaking out and wondering if I should pay my own way into the water park so that I can keep my eye on him but my hubby suggested we give him a chance and just wait it out…I know he’s right but, what if he misses me? or he’s lonely? or he’s hungry? or something. But I know that when I pick him up this afternoon besides being really tired, he’s going to be really happy and just fine. It’s just so hard to let go.
    Anyway, Congratulations to you and your family on such a happy occasion!

  6. Joelle

    Congrats to him! :) Yay.
    Now my only hope is his first day in high school someone doesn’t ask him why he’s not home watching “Hi-ho!”.

  7. Y

    haha Joelle! That is why I don’t write about him. But, I had to today. Hopefully, he won’t hate me for THAT.

  8. Patois

    I adore this post. I adore how much you love your son, how proud you are of him. It’s beautiful. (Which would likely tick him off, so I hope he doesn’t read my comment!) Congrats to all of you.

  9. Nina

    I just teared up. My baby is starting kindergarten in the fall, and I’m torn between yes I have some time alone and oh no! my baby!!! I can’t imagine her being 14.
    Congrats to him!

  10. s@bd

    and now i have to go upstairs, wake up my sleeping baby boy and fiercely, fiercely hug him and smooch him and make him stay a baby for ALL TIME.

  11. Eliza

    Friday was also my daughter’s last day of middle school. But there was no ceremony, no graduation, no certificate. I feel a little cheated. These occasions are perhaps less for the kids as they are for the parents who have to cope with the transition.
    Congrats to Andrew–and to you, Y.

  12. gabrielle

    Maybe you didn’t cry at graduation, but you just made me cry reading about it! :) What a beautiful post.
    Thanks for the reminder that those little babies grow up so fast- my Little Dude is just going into Pre-K this year, but I know that Junior High will be here way too quickly for me.

  13. Lily

    Such a beautiful post. My oldest will be going into Kindergarden this September and this post made me cry because they really are little for a short while.

  14. bigiron

    Congrats to your boy, and to you and his Dad.
    My woman does that whole “I love it when you cry!!!” crap. I told her my next woman is going to be one that loves to make me happy.

  15. margalit

    My twins are the same age, 14. It’s an amazing age. They’re so grown up but still want to sit in your lap and cuddle. They know how to cook, but still ask what I’m making for dinner. They can do laundry, but only if they’re commanded to. My son is a rising junior. We’ll be doing SATs and ACTs and starting to look at, sob, colleges. Colleges away from home. Sob. It’s making me physically ill just thinking about it. His sister will be a sophomore in the fall. At least they’re both not leaving at the same time.
    Congratulations to your whole family. You’re a great mom.

  16. Carrie

    Oh jeez, what a beautiful tribute to your little man. They do grow fast, cliche or not!!! Happy Graduation to him, and to you too!

  17. Meegan

    He’s so handsome! Congratulations, Y. I’m a little teary here. Beautifully written – thank you.

  18. tabatha

    you got me with “the baby that made me a mother”…don’t mind the wet spots on my comments – they aren’t tears, they are um, happy love drops!

  19. Kristie

    Well, while I certainly understand and respect your decision not to write often about your son, I’m so glad you made an exception today, for this milestone. Congratulations to him, and to you and your husband as well, for raising such a great kid!
    My oldest is ten. I have decided she is not allowed to graduate from anything. Ever.

  20. Sarah

    That’s so exciting! My sister just did the same thing, but she got done with middle school the day after my hs graduation. And wow, Andrew’s gone from the spiky crew cut to the long hair with remarkably few photos of the transition. Looks good. Good luck with everything!

  21. Alana from Australia

    Oh dammit! Now you made me cry. I am 38 weeks pregnant with mine and my husbands very first baby. A little boy.
    That was such a beautiful post (sniff, sniff.)

  22. kirsten

    I admire the way you can articulate your love for your children it is truly amazing. Your words touch my heart. Thank you.

  23. deborah

    Man, you’re gonna have to be heavily medicated when he graduates from high school. Then when he goes up to college, and you help him move into his dorm, and leave him there. That’s where I am now. My oldest just graduated from high school, and we take her up to college in August. I tear up just thinking about it, so I was right there with ya. He’s a handsome young man, he’ll have a great time in high school!

  24. Kathy

    One of the many reasons I smother my kid to death with kisses all day long. Because there will be a day when he won’t let me. Wahh!

  25. Christina

    Oh Jeez Y! You continue to touch my life and write my own feelings in a much prettier way! My son is only going into 7th grade but I feel the same way when I look at him and see that new fuzz above his lip, or realize he is the same height as my mom, or see his feet are bigger than mine. Thank you for sharing your life with us and giving a voice to us! I love you!

  26. BOSSY

    And high school goes by even faster. There. Bossy thought she’d give you a reason to cry in your Frosted Flakes.
    (salt+sugar=yum)

  27. Susan

    I was okay until this:
    “…he will forever be the baby that made me a mother. ”
    Maybe that’s why my son is what I call the Soft Spot in My Heart. The one who made me a mother.
    Wow. I never thought of it that way.
    Congratulations to your beautiful boy.

  28. Visual Blip

    Wonderful post. I’ve written books, had several albums, toured all over the country doing music and storytelling, etc : none of it compares to being present and accounted for during the births of my two children.
    Thanks for the memory and best of luck to you and yours.

  29. Lori

    I love this post! My son turned 5 today and will start kindergarden in the fall. I know exactly what people mean now when they say “enjoy them while they are little” because boy, they grow entirely too fast! Makes you wonder how it is even possible…

  30. Cassie

    Y, I have to say that I LOVE that last photo of you guys. You look like a movie star. :)
    Also, I wanted to say that you’re a wonderful mom, and I doubt you’ll ever have to make excuses to them about that. You remind me a lot of my mom, and that’s a very good thing.

  31. AmyM

    Awww, I had my own tears. Because my oldest is right now in his Ninja phase. Every single day he’s showing me some ‘move’ and trying to get me in a Kung-Fu match. And it seems like he’s been in this stage forever, so I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around the fact that it will be gone before I know it. Thanks for reminding me that he will, indeed, be graduating from Junior High someday. And then I won’t be the girl he’s showing his Ninja kicks to.

  32. Sandee

    Sigh… I’m bawling my eyes out, all the emotion I felt when my daughter walked across that stage was just relived. You have an amazing way with words Y! *hugs*

  33. robyn

    I had to try and read the end of this four times because the tears were just streaming. Oh they grow up much too quickly! I’m so proud of him — and YOU! (And the Shelby line…well, you know about that movie and my husband. *snort*)

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