This past weekend, my youngest son graduated from college. The youngest of four, he is the only one who took the traditional college route of a four year degree complete with the cap, the gown, the diploma and the 3 hour ceremony in the blinding Florida sun. Luckily for us this was the FIRST year that his small private school decided to hold the event OUTDOORS and I have to say, what a great idea! Florida is lovely this time of year and who doesn’t love sitting in the middle of a field, on metal bleachers in your new Kenneth Cole outlet dress as the sun gets ever higher in the sky, the temperature steadily rises, and the possibility of melanoma gets greater with each passing moment.
Seriously, for me this made all the worry, the angst, and even that one late night phone call from the sheriff’s office, worth it. My boy graduated college and I was beyond proud. At one point son said to me, “I don’t know if I want to walk mom, I can just have them send me the diploma” to which I replied, “Oh, you’re walking. YOU ARE WALKING, and if I have to fucking crawl there on my hands and knees I will be there to see it, ” so…you know, I set the stage for a fun day.
As excited as I was for this glorious experience, I was concerned about two major issues that the weekend involved. One was the full body Spanx. My ex was hosting a dinner the Friday night before the event at a lovely 5 star restaurant and FINALLY I had the chance to wear that black dress I bought in NYC 3 years ago along with the full body spanx I bought to go with it. Things should be okay, as long as the 3 tiny snaps that hold the thing together at my crotch didn’t come apart causing the whole apparatus to fly up and hit me in the face during the soup course. If I walked very slowly, and sat down very gently….should be okay.
Second? This would be the first time since my divorce that my ex, my children and my in-laws whom I miss dearly would all be together in one room, at one table in fact. Add in M and my ex’s partner, an elegant, lovely woman with great hair and it could be somewhat awkward. Yet, I was not about to miss it— could we come together as a family to celebrate a moment of complete and utter joy? Could we sit together at a table and enjoy each other’s company while celebrating the success of the son we brought into this world? Was there any way I could wear the dress without the full body Spanx? (No, there wasn’t.) This was what was going through my mind as we began the three hour drive on Friday afternoon.
After a longer trip than we anticipated due to traffic and a stop at Burger King where I really wanted to try their new grilled hot dogs, (a decision I lived to regret later that evening) M, myself, my two daughters and one boyfriend that I love, arrived at the hotel where we were all staying. We walked in and there they were…my family. There was my mother in law who has known me since I was 16. Who came and stayed with me when my 5 year old daughter had 3rd degree burns on her legs and feet after I dropped a pot of hot chicken soup as she was passing by the stove. Every day she accompanied me to the doctor where she would hold her as they scraped off the burned skin and bandaged her up, as I cried on a chair nearby. We have shared ups, downs and a thousand cups of coffee.
My father in law who taught my kids how to fish and patiently baited hooks for hours as they sat next to him swinging their little feet back and forth. My sister in law, who I grew up with, both of us 16 when we met. Now we are both mothers and have shared the joy and heartbreak that comes with that job. And of course, there was my ex. I haven’t seen him in over a year and didn’t know what to expect, how I would feel. Our eyes met and I felt happy. I felt proud. We looked at each other and both said, “WE DID IT!” as we high fived each other. It was a moment I will always remember.
That night M and I arrived a few moments late to the dinner as we had to park a few blocks away and I had to walk like a geisha in order to keep the spanx intact. When I arrived, there were two seats left and I took the one next to my ex. I had him on one side and M on the other! You know the weird part? It felt RIGHT. I had the man I now loved on my left, and the man whom I had shared a life with and brought 4 children into the world with on my right. My kids were scattered around the table, talking, laughing, so proud of their little brother, enjoying the moment of seeing their parents together in happy times. There was a time I thought that it would never be possible, but here we were. We all shared stories about the graduate, and though I did get a bit melancholy, I felt truly happy and really blessed.
Not to mention, the Spanx stayed where it was supposed to at least until we got back to the room, where I sat down on the bed and it let loose with a sudden fury as if to say, “PLEASE, NO MAS! NO MAS!” All the worry had been for nothing. The night had been a success and as I drifted off to sleep, I let these words wash over me…WE DID IT.