Dear Son, Turns out there is no Secret Handshake. Happy Graduation!

My son graduates from high school tomorrow.

It seems like I should have some seriously wise things to say to him upon this momentous occasion.

Some deep truth to reveal.

Maybe teach him the Secret Handshake for “adults”….?

Except I don’t actually know a Secret Handshake for adults, it just seems like something that should exist.  But it doesn’t, I googled it.

And I don’t really have a big truth to reveal.  (He already knows Darth Vader is Luke’s faja…)

Mostly I am just in a state of shock.

And, if you must know, I’ve been bawling all most of the day.

Somehow those unbearably long days of trying to keep a colicky newborn even alive, for God’s sake turned into unbearably long days of chasing a toddler around (this kid never just walked anywhere) while answering “why?” a gillion times, which turned into walking him into class on the first day of kindergarten and having to be asked (politely) to leave already, to seeing his shy/proud smile when he saw me volunteering in the school library, to leaving him at summer camp (but calling every single day to make sure everything was okay), to soccer games, to cub scout meetings (why are mothers in charge of cub scouts?), to his first crush (Haley, who will be graduating with him tomorrow), to his first dance, to the first day he didn’t want to hug me before getting out of the car when I dropped him off at school (OUCH!), to the day he started driving, to the day he announced he was a Republican (I know….), to the day he told me he wanted to live mostly with his Dad, to the day he told me about the girl he really liked and the day he told me that, for some fucked-up reason she decided she didn’t like him the same way anymore, to the day he cried because his Bubba is sick, to the day he put his arm around me and told me he loved me after I told him that I missed him, to the day I paid his registration fees for COLLEGE, to last night when he picked me up at the airport and told me all about his Senior Prom, to today….

The day before his graduation. 

And, apparently, the day when it finally hits me that 18 years have come and gone in a flash.



I don’t have much in the way of wise words for you, but I would like to take this opportunity to tell you some stuff that I wish I would have known when I was your age (or at any time before I was, say, 45).  And, here’s a shocker:  I really was your age at one point and I’m pretty sure someone mentioned most or all of this to me, but, ummmm, I probably thought they were too old to understand what it was like to be my age and therefore discounted everything they said.  Sound familiar?

First, sweetest of sweet peas, you’re not “preparing for a career” right now, you are “HAVING A LIFE” right now!!  So, please, please, please have it.  Live it!  Drink it up!  Soak it in!  Seize the day and all that crap!  Take chances.  Make mistakes.  Be curious.  Love to learn new things, meet new people, open to new possibilities.  Have adventures.  Explore.  Play.  Risk your heart.

(and be safe, don’t drink and drive, use protection, say no to drugs, avoid meth, wear sunscreen, no motorcycle riding, don’t forget to call me and please don’t die before me…..)

I know it’s hard to believe right now, but you are really still at the very very beginning of your life and anything is possible.  You have a gillion choices to make ahead of you and, trust me on this one, most of them will be good choices.  Most things will work out.  Some won’t.  Sometimes you will put up a good fight and lose, only to discover, much much later, that it wasn’t a matter of winning or losing after all, it was just a thing

Life is chock full of things, sweet pea.

A college major is a thing.  If one isn’t right, another one will be.  Same with a profession/career/job.  Choosing one doesn’t mean you can never choose another.  You will never be stuck, really.  You may (will) feel stuck, but try to remember that there is no such thing and there are endless ways to get from here to there.  You just have to remember to move, even if it’s a teensy-weensy baby step.  Then one day you will find your perfect thing and suddenly all those things that you thought were “wrong” and a waste of time, will end up looking like a very interesting path called “life” that took you from then to now.

Shall we speak of love?  (Stop rolling your eyes…)  Here is the one thing that I know for sure: you cannot convince someone to love you.  No one will ever give you love just because you love them.  Even if you love them with all your heart.  And you can’t convince yourself to love someone just because they love you.  Even if they love you with all their heart.  I don’t believe that we ever truly “waste” time, but I do believe that time spent trying to convince someone to love you, or to convince yourself to love someone is helping no one.  The people who are going to love you will know it pretty much at first sight.  They will not need to be convinced. 

(They will, however, need to be approved by your one true love, moi….)

Most importantly, no matter where you go, or what you do, know that you are loved so very much and you always have a place to come home.  It’s not a town or a house, it’s family. 

I will try not to cry hysterically and/or snort during your graduation ceremony tomorrow, but, to be honest, I can’t make any promises at this point.  Are you sneaking alcohol in?  Maybe I could borrow some….  TOTALLY KIDDING.  I’ll bring my own 🙂




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4 responses to “Dear Son, Turns out there is no Secret Handshake. Happy Graduation!

  1. Brilliant and very, very wise! Life as a collection of “things” really resonated with me. Congrats on your son’s graduation!!!

    • kim

      Wow! Thank you, Clark 😉 We are having Portland weather this week, hoping the graduation ceremony won’t get rained out…. I’m actually fine with the rain, then no one will know the real reason why my makeup is smeared all over my face and I’m clutching a wad of tissue. I had no idea I was gonna get this emotional/sentimental/weepy. God forbid he ever gets married.

  2. Sue T

    Hooray for your son, and for you!

  3. irene

    “take a right at the second star and head toward the morning light” from captain hook! that’s the only add’l advice i can add here for Austin. watching the movie reminded me that we only have a few years w/our children (and i keep wanting to speed it up b/c they’re such a responsibility – taking care of grandkids. . .i come home from work and if each of them say my name 100 times, at least, that’s when i stop counting. . . and hopefully, godwilling i’ll have 14 more yearsw/each of them) – really nice piece Kim! so enjoy reading you’re blog.

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