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.