My Son’s Graduation

Last night, we hosted my son’s high school graduation BBQ at our house.

His friends and his family all came together to wish him well. It was cool to see all the people come together but it was even cooler to watch Brock be a gracious young man. He engaged with everyone, from each corner of his life, and made the rounds as a host. He did a nice job balancing family, friends, and his parents’ friends. I’m sure he would have much rather just hung out with his buddies the whole time but he didn’t.

The fact he got money obviously helps at these types of functions.

I loved the time of life he is entering and my hope for him is that he does, too.

 I printed out an article I liked, 3-Word Pieces of Advice for Graduates, that I thought was appropriate. However, I recognize my role and my relationship with my son is changing. I am moving from a leadership role to an advisory role.

And I’m okay with that because it is the appropriate order of development. However, it has made me a little nostalgic this week. Brock still has a lot of story left to be written but we are at the end of the first, very long chapter of his story.

And I have been filled with questions this week: did I teach him enough? Did I discipline him enough? Does he have all that he needs for success? Do I have a good enough relationship with him? Will he reach out with questions and for help when he is at college?

Basically, did I do a good enough job at this parenting job that I have never truly liked? I have another article to be written about how parenting is the worst job of all: terrible hours, terrible pay, employee issues. However, I digress.

I mean, our children are the humans that would have died as infants if we didn’t feed and clothe them. Now, Brock is ready to fly the nest, as they say.

I remember contemplating these thoughts 18 years ago while I watched him sleep in his crib. At times, I would be the only person in the house with him. Literally, if I left the house and left him, he would die eventually.

And I remember this feeling of panic: what qualified me to be this person in his life? Luckily, I adapted quickly to this but the memory of that thought was foremost in my mind last night as I watched his pickup pull out of the driveway.

I had to go figure out this thing called LIFE on my own.

And then as nostalgia threatened to overwhelm me, I remembered myself as a high school graduate headed to college. I had to go figure out this thing called life on my own. I had to find my own mentors and teachers outside of my hometown and my family.

And it was my favorite time of my life. I met lifelong friends. I met the mother of my kids. I met people who inspired me to be the person I am today. I met the greatest people I know today. I became who I am today because of the period of time between high school and college graduation.

If our childhood to high school graduation is our foundation, I laid the flooring and framed the walls for my life in college. And I loved it.

My parents had to watch it happen from afar — just like I’m getting ready to watch from afar.

This year has been a tremendous season of change. After 24 years of coaching football, I am no longer coaching. My wife is retiring from teaching. My son is graduating. I’m looking at how to slow down a little, after existing at a high level of energy for a lot of years.

This season of change causes me to pause and reflect on the last 18 years. A lot has happened: some good, some bad, some not-so-easily-classified. But this long, first chapter of Brock’s story — and the long, middle chapter of my life — is coming to an end and change is happening.

It is what I want: my kids to grow up, move out, and succeed on their own. But even if it wasn’t what I wanted, it’s happening and there is no stopping life from rolling forward with little care whether we want it to or not.

Tonight, I will watch Brock walk across the stage and get his diploma. I will clap and he will smile.

I will watch him walk his long-legged, athletic stride across the stage, away from his childhood and onward towards his future.

Thanks for reading. Please check out my personal blog. 

Written by: NathanWhite