Monday, September 10, 2012

The Graduation Speech I Would Have Made If I Wasn't a Cry Baby!

Our second daughter graduated at the end of this past school year... we went through the college application process, the waiting for acceptance, the financial aid process... more waiting and then all the planning and nerves and fears and so on.   Our summer was so insanely busy we never had her official graduation ceremony and party as we did for our older girl four years ago.   We finally held her party this past weekend.  This time I opted for a short "Thank you for coming to share this day with us, thank you for supporting us through this process... here's our graduate” mostly because I am a big cry baby.   For many reasons it was both easier and harder this time so I didn't trust myself to make it through more than a few words.  

So here's the speech I wish I had been brave enough to utter: 

Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in our family's life... today my favorite child graduates and leaves me.    She is not my favorite because she's the best, prettiest, brightest, most helpful or any or all of those things.   She's my favorite because all other positions were taken.   Her older sister, Sarah, is my oldest, my first, and my "experimental" child who endured many parenting mistakes made by her parents but turned out awesome anyway.   Her younger sister, Ainsley, holds the distinction of being the baby girl... she will always be the youngest girl... my baby girl who has many special qualities that will keep her my baby girl forever.   Her brother, Jack, is the only boy, the baby of the whole lot of them!  So that leaves most favorite kid as Anna's job.   
Anna has spent half of her life volunteering on a regular basis in a variety of worthy organizations, she’s worked since age 11 with Horse and Buddy, being a huge part of a great organization, putting many, many hours in helping make the lives of children with special needs brighter and healthier.   She has had some amazing mentors during her years in that organization,  Sharee Liles, Janet Mason, Sue Walker, Holly Confroy, Laurie Pate and many others over the years.   She's learned, she's grown, and she’s become strong and independent.    Anna has also spent many hours this past year and a half working at Orange Co Animal Services and been so fortunate to have amazing mentors there as well, Sarah Fallin, Evelyn Lilley, Anne Clancy, Hannah Barber, April Bolton, Ashley Ray, Jess Allison, Helen Wemmenhove and many others.   There cannot be enough said about the importance of incredible mentors and role models in the lives of our children.   Adults that teach, set amazing examples of hard work and intense dedication to the good of others and will love your child during the process.   Thank you to all these amazing people that made this journey a lot more secure.   Thank you to all those involved with these organizations that I did not name by name... there are too many to list!  
Anna has found the perfect college... if there weren't signs saying it had been around since the 1800's I would swear it were built just last year just for her.   Who knew there was a college that not only has a farm but values service and hard work just as much as academics?   A college that believes learning looks different for different people and embraces those differences in a whole-hearted way. Warren Wilson College has embraced her and celebrated her commitment to the greater good by awarding her two amazing scholarships that will enable her to study there without worrying about the cost.  Anna has been awarded the Sutton Scholarship and the Warren Wilson College Grant.   
Now my advice to the graduate: 
You know who you are, probably more intensely than is healthy!  Do not lose your self in the masses of other people around you.   Remember what you value and hold those close...but not so closely that you miss new and unique opportunities to explore other things.    Listen more than you speak, you have two ears and one mouth and I believe that design was not random.   Listen to those around you and hear what they are really saying because it's not always the words leaving their mouths!  Love those that need it more than others but aren't always easy to love.   Be the soft place to fall for your friends and in other relationships in your life.   Sometimes people need a hug more than advice so make sure you are paying attention and give the best thing for them at the time.    Open yourself up to other relationships.   Life is full of amazing people; get to know as many people as possible.   This is such an exciting time in your life don't close yourself off to new people by holding on too hard to the ones already there.   Your time-tested friends are not going to go anywhere and they hold you just as tight even separated by distance as before.   
Be present; take advantage of learning as many new things as possible.   Put away the things in life that distract you and really BE in the moment.   Learn something new every day.   Embrace every new thing even if it scares you, annoys you or confounds you.    Be nice to yourself, find time for a cup of tea, some yoga, a walk, and a swim, sitting in meadows or petting an animal.   Do what feeds your soul.   You are an amazing young woman, a fierce bright soul that will set the world on fire on day.  In the meantime be patient and enjoy being young, enjoy not having it all figured out, enjoy the sunrise and sunset and appreciate that nothing is promised to us.   
Most of all know how much your family loves you; know that there is NOTHING we wouldn't do for you to help you succeed.   You will be missed at home but this is your time to grow, learn and be free and young.   You will leave the world a better place that we know for sure.    Go out and change the world... we all know you can and will.   

We love you Anna banana... you are my heart and soul!  Congratulations on your graduation!  

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