Gratitude at Graduation
Graduation is an emotional time for parents. It’s a time of joy and celebration, but it is also marked with wistful reflection over how quickly time goes.
This year, one of our faculty members wrote a heartfelt email to her colleagues upon the graduation of her oldest child. It was so beautifully written, I asked her if I could post it here. Thank you, Deana (aka Mama D), my sweet friend, for sharing these kind words with us. We love the Graham family!
After all of the crying I did at graduation, my best friend’s husband said he felt like we needed to run by the hospital for an IV bolster of fluids. If you missed me, I was a human fountain – literally – and mixing the hours of sweat, with the sudden flood of unstoppable tears, did not make for the most beautiful mom at the event.
A bit about the tears . . .
I spent all day Saturday (when one girl child or another was not having a breakdown) mostly reminiscing and feeling sad. It was hard to believe that Molly was graduating – I was saying all of the things I had heard friends say about their first child’s graduation – how did it get here so quickly?
I assumed I’d be sad at graduation. I assumed I might get a bit tearful.
That’s not what happened, though. I wasn’t sad, and ‘a bit tearful’ would not describe what I was!
I cannot remember ever feeling such a sense of overwhelming gratefulness for so very many people. I wish I could write to every single person at this school who has made a difference in my children’s lives – but that’s just it – there are too many!
I could not stop crying because I was consumed with thoughts of all of the myriad ways that each of you have touched Molly – helped her, given her pep talks, served her lunch cheerfully, cleaned up after her, made her feel better when she was sick, taught her things I never knew about, shown her new ways to help others, taken her to far away places, pushed her to try harder, steered her to do the ‘hard rights’ and tirelessly poured your heart into our child (as well as everyone else’s).
As I sat there, on a seat I knew had been dried by some friend of mine, surrounded by folks on every side who were part of the village who helped Molly be who she is; I was struck by it all. I remembered how hard it was when we left a place we loved and how devastated she was to get here and start all over. I remembered individual talks that different ones of you had with her to boost her and help her remember who she was. I remembered the confidence you had in her when she was awarded a scholarship at the end of her first year here. I remembered so many conversations, so many trips, so many hugs, so many laughs, so many stories. I remembered the hundreds of times that she came in, sat on the floor in the den, and said, “I know I am so lucky to go to Brookstone.”
I grew up in public school, with a mother who was a fabulous teacher in public school, I taught in public school, and I darn sure was never EVER going to even step foot in a private school – I certainly wasn’t going to put my children in one or work in one! I’m not even sure how it came to be, though I always blame Mary Snyder – I had not planned on being impressed on the tour, and she ruined that with her smile and her stories of this place. Thank goodness. Being here, even with financial help, is a huge stretch for us; but I know in my very core that it is one of the greatest gifts we will ever give our children.
If I’m completely truthful, I wasn’t expecting to find YOU here. I was expecting people who were different from me, people who didn’t care much about the rest of the people in the world. How’s that for a stereotype – those things I warn my children about multiple times a day!
I could not imagine the love, support, and care that would be poured into my children. I could not have imagined Brookstone. I could not imagine a place, a family, where folks would cry with me when I watched my child fail at something hard. I could not imagine a place where teachers would send notes, texts, emails to my child that are full of rules for life I forgot to teach. I could not imagine a place where history would come to life, literally, for my child, or where things learned at school would be so interesting, she came home still discussing them. I didn’t imagine a place where teachers could love other people’s children so very much – where everyone who passed Molly in the hall (her teachers and adults who didn’t know her) – would make a difference in her day, showing her the way to be with folks who cross your path. I wouldn’t have dreamt of a place where she would be so engaged that she snuck to stay up later, to try, try, try to understand something after we had told her to give it up and go to bed. I never imagined Brookstone.
So, my dehydrating display of emotion was so much more than sadness – it was huge feelings of gratefulness that I couldn’t have seen coming, 7 years ago, when I dropped my three off on that first morning. I could not imagine that my children could be loved, pushed, supported, stretched, and touched the way they have been. I couldn’t have imagined that I would want to WORK here, that I would be so proud to be part of this fine faculty. I didn’t see it coming that you all would be my dear friends or that we were literally joining a family. I had no idea.
Marty’s kind words about Molly at the awards dinner will stay with me for a long time, and she is honored beyond belief. I think our girl has strived to make Brookstone a better place, and I believe she has left a mark. But, know this, my friends – YOU ALL have made a mark on our daughter that will stay with her for the rest of her life.
That was what was going through my head; that was the reason for the flood of tears. I was struck to be in the midst of our dearest family and friends AND the many folks in the Brookstone family who are our village. At one point, my best friend nudged me and said, “You can’t look over there at the teachers anymore – you just can’t take it” – and though that makes me laugh, I know it was true. I was overcome with what my child has been given. I was awestruck. And to think that it happens for every other child here is more than amazing.
I know this is sappy – I get that way. But I couldn’t let these things go unsaid. I know that no school is perfect. I know that doesn’t exist – but I can’t imagine a place where people work harder or care more than here. We are truly thankful for the part that EACH of you played in Molly’s years here, and there is no doubt that she is changed forever by what she learned.
From a grateful parent, flooding fountain, and proud member of the family,
Deana (Mama D)