On my daughter’s graduation, I’m grading myself–and everybody else

My daughter’s elegant e-bay-purchased prom dress hangs in her bedroom. On Facebook, other moms are posting pics of their high school seniors wearing big smiles and Tshirts announcing their college choices. My gmail box is filled with notices from the high school urging me to buy ribbons, sunglasses and seat cushions to “help support the class of 2013”  or to remember important dates: the Prom, the Vocal Concert, the Awards Program, Commencement. But my favorite email is the one that’s already triggering empty-nest nostalgia with its reminder from the principal that there will be “discipline consequences” if students arrive at school wearing “sagging pants, hats, short shorts, short skirts, bare midriffs, tank tops, spaghetti straps, strapless tops and dresses.”

Final transcripts will be sent home soon, but I’m pausing for a moment to give a report card to myself and my fellow mothers. These are the women with whom I once traded labor stories and mastitis remedies before we moved on to debating the grand consequences of allowing our kids to play with guns, sticks, Barbies, Pokemon cards, Game Boys. We worried: Should we let them eat sugary cereal? Lunchables? Surf the Net? How come Katy has the only kid who will eat kale? What happens if they don’t get the “good” Kindergarten teacher, or don’t test into the “better” math class? Is it safe for them to go to this party or that concert? Can we trust them behind the wheel?

Whatever their age or stage, we worried about whether we were doing a good enough job as mothers. So what grade should we and their fathers earn? Here’s the final report card:

Our children did amazingly well on their SATs, they got busted for having hashish in their backpacks, captained their school’s soccer teams, grappled with dyslexia and ADHD, got detention, won awards for their poetry and community service, pierced their tongues, tattooed their arms, taught themselves Russian, failed algebra, acted like mean girls, stood up to mean girls, played too many video games, spent their vacation time volunteering at food banks, quit the hockey team, learned to dance, posted knuckle-headed comments on Facebook, took up photography, and floored us with both their lame-brained antics and stunning acts of kindness and generosity.

As parents we earn an H for Human. Our kids are growing up to be as gloriously, beautifully imperfect as we are. And today, I think that’s more than good enough.

If your child is a recent or current graduate I’d love to hear from you. How do you think you’ve done? Do you wish you had raised them differently? In the end, how much of a difference do all of those “micro decisions” that make  up the minutiae of parenting really matter?

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