My college graduation is this Saturday.
I finished my master’s degree at Central Michigan University, and the commencement ceremony is set for 1 p.m. When I started working on this degree, I envisioned wearing the cap and gown and the very awesome-looking stole that drapes around your neck and down your back. I had waited until my five children were grown before embarking on this journey, and I was excited at the prospect of finally achieving this goal. I would be graduating with distinction for a 3.97 grade point average – damn that one A-minus! And I was excited for my kids to see me walk in the ceremony.
I didn’t walk at my college graduation when I got my bachelor’s degree way back in 1982. In one of the more embarrassing episodes of my life, I failed two classes in my final semester because I preferred to spend all my time working at my college newspaper rather than going to class. At my college, they used to print out a giant list of graduates for each commencement and post it on a big signboard outside the Administration Building. On my way to graduation, I just happened to stop to look at the list. My name was not there.
I panicked and went home to call my adviser. “I’ve been trying to call you for a couple of days,” he said. I had been out of town on a short trip with friends. “I tried to get the professors to reconsider since it’s your last semester, but they wouldn’t budge,” he said. I was devastated. My parents were coming down from Iowa, and I was the only one of their three kids who went to college. There were no cell phones in those days, so I had no way to call and warn them off. They sat through commencement thinking they had just seen me graduate. They didn’t know until they came to my apartment afterward that I hadn’t been there.
After a couple of days of crying, I got myself together and took two correspondence courses to finish my degree. I got a job at a newspaper two months later, and all has been well. I survived.
But now fate throws another curveball. After telling us for months that she wasn’t going to go to her senior prom, our youngest daughter decided two weeks ago that she just has to go. So we went out and bought a dress, shoes and purse. I told her she had to make her own hair and nails appointments. Then it occurred to us. “Wait a minute. What day is prom?” You guessed it – the same day as my graduation.
My husband, being completely clueless about how long it takes to get ready for prom, said, “We can do both!” Um, no, she has to start getting ready for prom at the same time commencement would be starting. So, of course, we will be taking our daughter to get her hair and nails done, picking up flowers, helping her get dressed and taking pictures of her and her boyfriend in their prom attire.
I didn’t have to think for a moment about what we would do. She is the last of our four daughters, and this is finally the last prom. The kid would come first. That’s just how moms roll. Maybe I’ll get to walk when I get my Ph.D.
Jalene Jameson is a staff writer for the View Newspapers. Contact her at 810- 452-2645 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.