My kid’s graduating today.
Only yesterday I was a brand new dad with no idea how to even hold her let alone raise her… I was still a kid myself and s-c-a-r-e-d t-o d-e-a-t-h.
People say it goes by so fast, I don’t agree.
I slowed down often and have thousands of cherished moments that don’t feel rushed or too short.
They feel right and sacred and I desire no do overs.
I’m thinking a lot about being a dad these days… about this adventure I’ve been on and am still on— how it’s worked, where I failed, where it held together even when it shouldn’t have, how the best intentions didn’t yield outcomes I thought but often much more curious rewards showed up on the other side.
Raising this kid forced me to raise myself.
I’ve got a bunch of gratitude today for the people besides me that stepped in to plus my shortcomings, subtract where I over did things and help launch this new person, my person, into the world.
It’s a remarkable journey, thankfully that’s mostly just begun.
I love it and her so fiercely I won’t even bother trying to explain. You already get it, I’m sure. After all, It’s not like fierce love is exclusively mine.
She and I recently had a fight— the kind we love— an intense debate positioned from educated and mindful perspectives, both egoiclly believing we are absolutely right.
We actually agree with each other often but refuse to admit it just so we can have the intense exchange of ideals and positions that always yields something awesome.
She suggested that I should be so proud of her as she was ordering her cap and gown for her upcoming graduation… that graduating high school was such a big accomplishment and source of pride.
She acted insulted in the profound way only a teenage girl can and we locked heads and began an epic battle.
On this particular subject I obviously crossed the line because her mother stepped in and made it clear I was a total idiot and that she shouldn’t listen to me nor take it personally.
She never steps in unless I’m an idiot.
But just as I’ve taught her to do, I doubled down on my position and reaffirmed that I am not proud at all about her graduating, that I’m happy for her next chapter, happy for the completion and excited for the day—but that pride and feeling like she accomplished something so great—not a chance.
Her mom came to the rescue going on and on about how proud she was, what a big deal it was…. But the kid wouldn’t divert—she remained locked onto me in debate about my irreverence for her accomplishment, about what a horrible dad I was, about how I have never supported these areas of her life.
(pause for dramatic effect).
She failed at swaying me.
I again explained my reasoning.. that graduating is baseline in our little part of this world. For many kids, graduating is huge, amazing, remarkable and totally awesome. But around here, come on. Suburban white privilege comes with a high school diploma as part of the package, mostly. (ok, fine, you can pause again for my dramatic effect also )
Instead, my pride comes from the things in her that really matter to me. I want to start celebrating what matters—instead of this rut we seem to be in where we celebrate everything, diluting significance.
My pride and overwhelming awe of her comes from how she did it and who she was and became within the experience, who she is… not what she did.
I’ve always believed I was preparing her for launch into the world and I took the job very seriously.
My admiration and pride and beaming love for her comes from the qualities in her that are so pure, radiant and profound.
If I could make additional tassels for her cap and gown, like the ones that signify achievements, I would proudly add to hers one for each year of school and what I observed her achieve with a grace and beauty that almost blinds me;
1) Being kind rather than right.
2) Surrendering to the mystery and recognize how little things really matter.
3) Realizing we are really small, but need to act big and bold.
4) Knowing for sure the whole world is our village and we are global citizens.
5) Recognizing literally everyone is equal and it’s our job to build this awareness by modeling it in our daily actions…. Knowing that to have, we must give.
6) Aware that acquiring more and more things mostly sucks in the long-term and the earth is our only home so we must be good stewards.
7) Finally agreeing that success includes blowing off more days than you’re allowed and always following the adventure while observing rules as casual suggestions.
8) Paying less attention to how you feel in a moment and more attention to the arc of a life…. that trusting, and not trusting your feelings is a delicate balance.
9) Not expecting things to always be awesome, accepting that life sometimes sucks and thankfully all things change…
10) Knowing in a big way that the middle path always yields the most joy.
11) Finding personal truth and then living it fully… aware that this is the exact path to happiness.
12) Finally, realizing the only real job we all should have is a fierce commitment to add more love in the world.
I love to remind her that I created her.. that what and who she is was by my design. God she hates it when I say that.
Of course that’s true and yet totally bullshit. She’s her own woman and most of what makes her awesome she designed all by herself. But I am proud of the parts I played and excited about the roles I know I’ll continue to have… of all the things I feel I taught her, modeling how to surrender, change course, make amends and begin again top’s my list… so I’ll do exactly that with my closing paragraph….
Setting aside all my colorful language and ridiculous desire to talk big and be controversial, I admit now, here, that I am seriously proud of her and this graduation, this conclusion to what’s been the sole focus of her life thus far. I saw the up all night weeks of insane homework and fierce commitment to meeting obligations.. the 20 pound backpack and the rolling out of bed too tired to comb her hair moments… the commitment to do hard anyway. I realize what it took to get awesome grades and still be kind and in service to our community and all the extraordinary efforts to just get thru and yes many kids do this and it’s not that unusual to graduate, but it’s still huge honestly… because how you do it, what you take out of it and what you then go do with all you gained—that’s what can change the world. She, of course, never followed my orders… but instead went farther than I did in a hundred ways and will most certainly leave a dent in this universe that will significantly outshine mine and what more could I ever possibly ask for?
Ok Bug, time to go seek the great perhaps…just follow the light and feel my mad insane love for you the whole way; you got this.