Saturday, May 14, 2011

One Proud Mama


 Proud Mama and Sam
Here I am at my middle son’s graduation from Carnegie Mellon University, with a major in architecture. It’s been five challenging years for him—all-nighters, exams, designing and building incredible models. It’s been five challenging years for me, too—worrying (especially when he spent a semester in Qatar), wondering where the money was coming from (especially since we have another son in college), fretting about whether he was taking good care of himself. Suffice it to say that I am relieved and  proud. He made it!
           But is pride really such a good thing?  The real question, I realize, is would I be proud if it hadn’t turned out this way? Would I be proud of my son if he had flunked out of school, or if his grades hadn’t been as stellar as they are, or if he had messed up in any number of ways?
         And beyond that the question is, are we capable of loving without expectation? Are we, as parents, ready to give our love unconditionally, even when our kids make mistakes or disappoint us?  Are we ready to say to our kids, “We love you no matter what?” Not, I love you if you graduate from college, or if you get a high-paying job, or if you score really well on the GRE’s?   
         I know I'm fortunate to have three sons who have all done well at college. And yes, I am filled with pride (whether this is a positive thing or not) for their wonderful achievements, particularly today, as my middle son receives  his degree.
        But I’m also aware that even as we celebrate our children’s achievements, we must also celebrate the mistakes they make, the failures they meet, and the missteps they take, because with these experiences come the real learning. 
          Perhaps the true test of our love is whether we can be there for them, no matter what, on great days like graduation from college, and on every other day to come.


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