graduation day

I graduated high school thirty years ago next week….May 30, 1986. My daughter graduates high school today, May 26, 2016. I’ve always found our thirty year age difference interesting and it’s made it easy to remember exactly how old she is [or in reality, how old I am].

She’s my second and final offspring to move on and people have asked often as of late if it’s hard to pass through this season. Honestly, I’m not super emotional about it currently. It’ll probably be different in August when we say our college goodbyes. But for now, for now I’m celebratory. Happy for her and all she’s accomplished. Happy for me because now I can freely take a week’s vacation in February if I so desire. Public school calendar be da*#ed!

I don’t go on and on about my kids that much, at least not publicly. About their talents and attributes and achievements. I hope that’s not bothersome to them. I think they know I’m proud of them and believe they’re great.

Anyway, today of all days I suppose it’s alright. I’ve given myself permission. I’ve written a letter, so to speak, as I prepare to watch my daughter launch out. If you care to read, do so. If not, well, you most likely should move on at this point.

Dear Allie,

I’m not sure if you remember much about preschool in McKinney, Texas. Then there was that one semester of kindergarten at Ranch Heights. We moved to Lexington in 2004 and you quickly became a kindergartner at Garden Springs Elementary. Then, due to testing well and teacher recommendations, you switched to Meadowthorpe. Followed by Lexington Traditional Magnet for middle school [I enjoyed the dress code!]. Then off to Bryan Station High School. Oh, and your junior year abroad in Ostrava, CZ. Today all that comes to a conclusion. An ending then a beginning.

Lots of years and lots of changes…..lots of people coming and going into and out of your life. Yet you’ve done quite well and accomplished a bunch.

We tend to look into young people and examine them, trying to figure out who they most resemble, personality wise. Who they “take after”. In you I see many people. I see bits of family members’ personalities. Some you’ve spent time with. Plus people you never knew.  Strong and opinionated characters in which you somehow inherited bits and pieces of. Sometimes I think to tell you….sometimes I let the moment pass and realize our makeups are smatterings of genetics as well as circumstances and events which might have happened years and years ago.

You are very different from me. And that’s alright. I hope you know that. I hope you know that I have never, ever expected you to mirror who I am. What interests me or defines me. You are uniquely you and that’s who you were designed to be.

beginning of love - Thomas Merton

I think sometimes we get the idea our parents or others are disappointed in us. I do remember being disappointed once when you were around two years old and threw a fit in a bookstore. I was probably more disappointed in myself and my parenting skills than you though….. Anyway, you think differently than me. I don’t share in all of your opinions, whether they be on God or politics or pastel clothing. But that doesn’t mean you disappointment me. Please remember that. And please read some Anne Lamott because I think you’d like her…..

You have always been strong willed and I count that a blessing. You have set your mind to many things and have seen them come to fruition. You are a hard worker. You are quite intelligent, proven by the fact you were admitted into a university with a 31% acceptance rate and scored a 31 on your ACT. Maybe 31 is your lucky number…..Anyway, remember these facts when you feel down on yourself. They aren’t small things. And they’ll most likely take you places. I will refrain from quoting Dr. Seuss at this point.

The above will only take you so far though. And possibly to a place you’ll wake up one day and realize you’d rather not be. So I hope you grasp either today or someday soon that

love is all you need.

Yes, an oft quoted song lyric but I believe it’s true. Your love and concern for people has always driven you to want what’s fair. You’ve been bothered by unfairness since you were a little girl. You’ve developed this into a habit of fighting for those who can’t or don’t know how to advocate for themselves. And in its purest form, that’s love. Love others. Extravagantly. Because in the end it’s all that remains.

I’ll also suggest you never date a guy who doesn’t know who Allen Ginsberg was because it would never work out. I know you that well. And remember you can always come home [no matter where that ends up being…]. When people are rude, consider the source…got that one from my mom. You can start over. Anytime. Everyday. There are very, very few mistakes which cannot be corrected. Money is not everything and it can’t buy the important stuff. Give yourself grace but try not to feel sorry for yourself. Self pity is unbecoming. Eat healthy. Be true to yourself. Read. Constantly. Like you always have. I can always give you a book recommendation if you need. Listen to good music. Don’t get drunk in public. Keep up with your brother. He’s the best. Always have one guy friend who can kick anyone’s ass and is readily available via text message. To be overdressed is better than to be under. Never pass up the opportunity to help a girl succeed.

Congratulations! I look forward to seeing where life takes you. Meantime, you need to make sure you memorize the lyrics to New York, New York, this summer. I hope you know that’s Frank Sinatra.

To NYU and beyond… you, Al, more than the world.



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