Graduation season is in full swing. There are preschool, grammar
school, high school and college celebrations galore. Every time I
peek at Facebook, there is another wonderful photo of a graduate
wearing his cap and gown with proud parents standing nearby. But
instead of enjoying the excitement and festivities of this month,
my reaction is somewhat different.
Truth be told, I have the worst graduation commencement luck
First, there was my high school graduation. Hours before the big
ceremony, our family dog died. Smokey was a 13-year-old black
lab/collie mix who, during those drama-prone years of high school,
served as a constant source of calm and happiness. She once saved
our entire family from a dryer fire. She protected the home against
theft. And if we actually had a well, there's no doubt she would
have gladly pulled Timmy from that, too. People often ask me why I
refuse to buy my boys a dog, and I quote that line from "Good Will
I had a dog. My dog is dead.
Of course, I also am terribly allergic to most animals, a fact
that would only be revealed after Smokey died and I never suffered
another ear or sinus infection again.
Anyway, as my classmates cheered the end of high school and
their bright futures ahead, I wallowed in my poor dead dog. When
they played "Pomp and Circumstance," it felt like a funeral
Next up was college graduation. I took my seat next to another
young graduate and excitedly leaned in to hear the commencement
address. I looked forward to the sage advice from the renowned
But that's when the guy next to me started talking:
"OH MY GOD…I AM SO WASTED. I think I'm gonna throw up. You don't
happen to have bucket, do ya? HA HA. I'm gonna die. I've been dry
heaving for an hour. My dad is gonna kill me. But I gotta say,
Eastern Illinois has been the best seven years of my life! What did
you study? Wait! Don't tell me! You're an education major, right?
No? Why do you keep looking away? My breath is bad, right? Hey,
wanna play a commencement drinking game? I gotta bottle under my
gown here….we'll drink every time they say 'graduate,' OK?
I heard not a single word of the commencement speech and I
smelled like stale beer courtesy of my fellow graduate. Because of
these experiences, I skipped the ceremony for my master's
Then there was the time my husband completed the Chicago Fire
Academy. I was again in a sour mood. I had been pregnant with my
second son for most of his training, and we did not know if Joe
would be allowed to attend the scheduled C-section until days
before delivery. My poor husband bore the brunt of my irrational
"I could totally die giving birth to your child, and you're
telling me you can't be there?"
"It's Paramilitary, Marianne. They treat us though we are
serving in Iraq. I wouldn't be able to come home from war for a
baby, so it's still up in the air."
"But you're not hunting down the freaking Taliban! You're at the
Chicago Fire Academy. TWO MILES AWAY. You're climbing rope and
doing push-ups where Mrs. O'Leary's stupid cow knocked over that
stupid lantern and this is all stupid stupid stupid."
I showed up at Joe's graduation with a 1-year-old and a new baby
while cursing my leaking body, the Great Chicago Fire, and anyone
who congratulated my husband. It wasn't like he had been up all
night with a newborn.
Heading into this June, I glanced over all the graduation
invitations tacked to our bulletin board. I am trying very hard to
shake my own jaded views of these important events. These graduates
have so much of which to be proud.
So I will raise a toast to Smokey, take a sip whenever anyone
says "graduate," and feel very grateful that I never opted to
pursue that PhD.
Just think of what a train wreck that ceremony would've
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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