college graduation adult children empty nestLast weekend my husband and I were part of my eldest son’s graduation festivities and we were blown away.

I had no expectations of what the weekend would provide. Frankly, I was mostly thinking, after all these years, how is it that I’m never prepared for these school happenings like other parents? That’s a rhetorical question – please don’t answer. Most of my friends would have had their hotel reservation booked the minute they got the graduation date.

In typical fashion, I was behind the eight ball trolling for rooms the August before the big day and none were to be found. My procrastinations had delivered the expected — a room 30 minutes away in a Marriott for $400 a night – their “special” graduation rate for Mom’s with delusional advanced planning problems.

Are you kidding — A Marriott in gorgeous New Hampshire, off the highway? Nope – I’d rather rent a Winnebago. As I earnestly began my search for campsites, I am serious, my husband laughed saying, “This is so not going to happen.”   Finally, after a few deep yoga breathes, I got some perspective. Reality set in and we went mildly rogue landing a cabin on the Appalachian Trail, 5 minutes from our son’s place. Thank you airbnb.  I’m a convert now.

Next I had to wrestle with my younger boy’s full-blown musical performance commitments to “encourage” him to clear some calendar space. Unfortunately, his schedule had been set by the time I’d delivered the last parental ultimatum of my life to the tune of  – “only severe medical excuses will be accepted”. This time when I brought up our  “family law” of showing up at all milestone events – it wasn’t going to be that simple.   He had bookings locked in with 6 month lead times. Being a mom, the only command performance to my mind was his brother’s graduation. He totally agreed but he had a team, agents and was on contract for a music festival 3 hours away on both Saturday and Sunday of graduation weekend. Uggh!

Needless to say, our musician wanted to be at his brother’s big day as much as we all wanted him there. He promised me, he would figure it out — and alas, so he did. In cahoots with his amazing stepped-up step dad Bill, they hatched a transport plan between shows.

So, as graduation day neared, the pre-planning anxieties melted away. My worry list was blank — we were not in charge of this weekend. Our graduate was totally running the schedule. With emails and instructions about when and where to show up — Bill and I realized we were not in the front seat of any planning. We had nothing to do but “be the kids” and show up on command.  Our job was to experience being his “guests” at his graduation.

Guests at our son’s graduation – Really! This was the twist we had not foreseen. Undergraduate graduations had been orchestrated by us; dinners, organizing the grandparents, showing up and being shooed as far away as possible from where the kids were partying. We were the outsiders then – but this time we were invited to be not only the insiders – but also the honorees. Yes, even better than being guests at the graduation – we were the honored guests. Welcomed into the classrooms, treated to cocktails, and invited to barbeques and beer pong. Given name tags saying who we belonged to (we were Jake’s responsibility)  and treated to dinners organized by the kids. We were so not in charge of anything and it was fantastic.

Our boy sent us a case study to review 2 nights before the Friday afternoon classes we had signed on for.  When I told him the night before I hadn’t read the case — he laughed.  “Mom, that’s going to be pretty embarrassing if you don’t do your prep work because I emailed the professor and told him to ‘cold call’ you”. NICE!  The threat worked, rising at 6 am day of class, I crammed the case. Needless to say, my husband was prepared well ahead of schedule.

The class went great — we were called on – thank goodness there were no wrong answers (at least that’s what the Prof. told us.) We loved being the students and were treated after all our hard work to ice cold beers after class.

The parties started that Friday night and ended into the wee hours of Sunday. The highlights are a little fuzzy as we embraced our student life. Beer Pong became our new favorite sport. Mom-pong, Dad-pong, brother-pong.  Yes, we drank way too much beer losing many a match, ate too much BBQ and slept in way too late both mornings. But the best news — we got an A+ from our boy –he was proud of us. He shined with pride in his handsome cap and gown, introducing us to his friends and professors.

We’re thinking we could get used to this “kid” role.

P.S. Funniest stand out comment of the weekend. My husband boasted to me on our way home from the 2nd blow out Pong Party — “Did you notice, we were the last oldest people there tonight –pretty good huh?”





Graduation Role Reversal: We Get To Be The Kids was last modified: by

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