So, last weekend we went up to ND to watch my eldest son, Buddybug,  graduate from college.

My big boys: Jon my now ND sophmore & Chris, our graduate

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, as they say….

Because, that’s how it plays when you travel long road hours with cars stuffed full of family. That’s how it plays when you have a relatively rigorous event schedule and many different ages and stages along for the ride.  That’s how you start rethinking strategy for next time and consider the benefits of babysitters for smalls…..but I’m getting ahead of myself.  So much.  This past weekend was so much.  I can only do the bullets, I can’t be eloquent or profound or witty…it’s all a flashing jumble, it’s own mental slideshow with quick cut editing. And the only way I’ll ever remember the details of it is to kinda chronicle it here.  Fair warning, this is my scrapbook edition post.

Thus, in no particular order, may I present: Graduation 2011.

  • predawn packing of the car with sleepy cranky children
  • twelve year old wakes up feeling sick.  Perfect timing, of course.
  • wild seven year old Little Man hurtling, hollering, down the driveway…because that’s just what he does sometimes, and before we can catch him.
  • cranky teen daughter yelling about obnoxious brother
  • angry neighbor, woken by sibling drama under his window.  Because we like to start our crazy weekend road trips with a bang…
  • Mortification by parental types, ok, me
  • hitting the road, little man still so wild he has to change cars even before we get on the main road; meaning, outta mine & into dad’s, Plan B
  • settling into a long day o’ driving, two cars, separated oil/water unmixable sibs, pandora on the radio
  • settle into house rental, quick change, meet graduate to hug and eat

Waiting outside DeBartolo Auditorium for the music department concert, a tired bunch

  • Zip over to music department concert
  • More wildness from the smalls as ever optimistic dad puts us dead center in auditorium
  • Mom panics quietly but not graciously
  • Mom wrestles (as discreetly as possible) small boys, stuck in the row, whispering cosmic “I”m sorry’s” to all the other parents in the auditorium…for the duration of the program
  • The music was amazing, such talented graduates
  • Chris’s Chopin piece, as ever, is amazing….
  • I can say that as the mom
  • But it’s totally true

Playing Chopin, beautiful

  • His hands move so fast it’s almost blurry
  • Where did that kid come from anyhow?
  • Car dead bright and early Saturday morning.  Perfect.
  • Plan C, swapping cars
  • Saturday department luncheon outside on a perfect day
  • Thanking the professors, meeting friends
  • Dutifully tripping while carrying plates, because I’m just graceful like that (saved them tho!)

Horsing around w/ Marta

  • Quick, needed, confession before Mass, fast walking through rain with my girls to arena to make Mass in time
  • The Baccalaureate Mass is just lovely, even though it’s in the basketball arena and we are in the tippy top seats, I don’t care. It’s lovely.

    Waiting for the Baccalaureate Mass

  • The small boys are good! It’s a miracle!
  • I blink back the tears at the Alma Mater, knowing I have tomorrow’s commencement to get through too.
  • Pick a day, pick a day to cry . Blink. Blink.
  • Dinner, all fancy and a risky but successful endeavor with a family of one of Chris’ closest buddies
  • sheer exhaustion by all, living on the edge of the knife…..

Trying to get boys to rest in afternoon, gearing up for long night

  • Me and Hannah sick overnight, perfect
  • Sunday morning, the big day, my son is graduating, neither his dad and I can quite believe it and yet, here we are.
  • Swift triage with tired sick kids on Sunday, another one down (Little Man, not so wild now) delegating babysitting after all and revamping logistics…Plan D
  • Football stadium is sunny, not a cloud in the sky despite dire predictions – yay!
Yeh, it was sunny, hot and great up at the top of the stadium
  • hot sun, high seats, still a great view of a field of grads
  • A perfect morning, special ordered it seemed
  • It’s done.  My son is a graduate.
  • It’s all perfect.
  • Post morning gig: quick swap of babysitters and venue for diplomas, time for a picture and hug of my graduate, when did he get SO tall?

  • Saving seats in basketball arena again for the afternoon segment of festivities
  • graduates process in, happy, lighthearted, grinning waving like Olympians, fun to watch
  • girls arrive just in time with dad and grandpa, we settle in to listen to 800 graduates names be read
  • My tall son walks across the stage, no trip, no falter, only a calm happy smile.  Perfect.
  • I holler, loud, because that’s my boy.
  • He stays and stands on stage at last with a few of his friends for the closing prayer.

My chris, third from left

  • Ahh, here they are, those tears, watching my boy
  • Annnnd the Alma Mater, and my boy linked arms with his friends, on the stage, stepping out of one part of his life, and into the new
  • I blinked, gulped and smiled bigger….because that’s my boy up there.
  • Pictures after, hugs, congratulations to friends and families
  • More pictures, more waiting
  • Marta meltdown in the parking lot, it’s all too much
  • Recovery, but not so deftly managed by mom, price will be paid, I swear I hear the bells tolling…..
  • Easy dinner at his choice; favorite local pizza place
  • exhausted bedtime, hard night of dealing with kids and fall-apart from all too much: time mood emotions changes no routines close quarters
  • Monday morning comes early, long day ahead
  • Marta very worried about car and finals Tuesday and long drive ahead
  • General post event crankiness abounding
  • Tom crawling  under car to whack the fuel tank, per mechanic’s advice to try to get car running
  • hours fiddling with car and stalling kids, antsy to go
  • Success! Hero. Car is idling and loaded, kids scramble in, we are off
  • Three blocks in, my car dies, I push it to right lane (a guy got out to help after a few mins, yay)
  • Lurched car to dealer, left for repair
  • teen girls needing to leave bags at dealer and cram in one car to go get the old volvo, ..what plan are we on, anyway?
  • more drama from teens, son is tired and sad from goodbyes, and we have to leave him too, plan D
  • drive home is fraught with storms and danger and hours of extra time
  • tense hard long scary driving
  • Home again.  Finally.  A new form of family, one with a young man, all done with his main block of schooling.  As parents, we have done our part in educating one kid, all the way through…how did that happen?

It was a wild weekend.  Even so, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.  Wild horses, wild boys, broken cars, sick kids couldn’t have kept us away.  And they didn’t. Because my first born son? He graduated from college, he ran the race and finished well.

Congratulations Buddybug.  We are SO proud of you.



5 thoughts on “Grad-o-palooza

  1. I feel like I was there!!!! This needs to be made into a movie. Not sure whether to laugh or cry. You handle everything with so much grace. You looked so beauitful, no one would have known the drama. Big big moments:)

  2. I’m exhausted just reading that! You must have more energy than the Energizer Bunny. All the while looking dynamite! Congrats to you all and to your first-born — a great achievement and milestone!


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