The Empty Seat at Graduation

5thgrade-graduation

Since when did schools start holding graduation ceremonies for practically every grade?  Is it just me, or does it seem like overkill?  Are the pre-K through 5th grade years really so challenging that we need to celebrate the accomplishment of our kids completing them?

Ok, I know, it’s a milestone and the kids are really cute all dressed up.  I guess I’m just not the overly sentimental type.  That said, I must admit to wiping a few tears during my son’s 5th grade graduation ceremony this morning.  The first ones sprouted in response to this song Never Grow Up which was set as the background to a slide show of all the 5th graders throughout their years in elementary.  My son has only attended this school one year so I didn’t expect to be moved by the pictures, but all those sweet faces growing into the tweens I see today, and then paired with that song… oh if only we could bottle those years when they are all perfectly innocent so that we could revisit them later.

So far my reaction to the ceremony was pretty typical of all the moms in the crowd.  Until I was suddenly punched in the gut (figuratively of course).  I spotted a dad 2 rows ahead of me dabbing his tears.  An unexpected wave of grief came over me as I realized that my son’s dad didn’t even know about this graduation.  My son’s dad hasn’t seen or spoken to him in more than a year.  The one other person in the world who is supposed to love this child unconditionally has dropped off the radar and is missing the precious gift of watching our 2 boys grow into the fine young men they are becoming.  As this realization hit me I felt a surge of emotions… lonely with an empty seat next to me, angry at my ex-husband for not acting like a father, sad for my son that he had only me there to cheer him on, disappointed that my husband couldn’t take off work to be by my side.

Now don’t get me wrong, if you’ve read my blogs for long, you know that I consider the blending of our family to be going well.  Many people look at our successes as examples for families struggling with their own blending process.  But that does not make me immune to sometimes feeling like I am the only true advocate for my 2 “originals”.  And while they do have a wonderful step-dad, that relationship will never replace the one they should have with their own father.

So what does one do when she is sitting in a crowded elementary school cafeteria with tears streaming down her face?  She wipes away those tears and does 4 things:

1. Thanks God that He is a perfect parent who loves all his children unconditionally
2. Reminds herself how happy her son was when he spotted her in the crowd
3. Makes a note to make a bigger deal of these milestones and treasure every moment

4. Prays for the boys’ father; forgiving and letting go of the hurt

Has the end of the school year brought out any unexpected emotions or realizations for you?  I’d love to hear how you handle these situations.

And with that the summer officially begins.  Stay tuned for my next post… which I’m pretty sure will be related to our family of 7 loading up for a ROAD TRIP!  Eek!

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(archived from June 5, 2014)

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