Thursday, June 9, 2011
Thoughts on my Daughter's Graduation
Just as it was a milestone for her, it was a pivotal life event for her parents.
Lara was born 18 years ago. We had no idea who she would be or what she would become.
During her early years, I was an Emergency Medicine resident. The nature of shift work meant that I could spent at least 12 hours of every 24 hour cycle with her - reading, walking on the beach, going to the park, strolling the Los Angeles zoo, and playing her favorite computer games - Pajama Sam, Freddie Fish, and Spy Fox.
We moved to Massachusetts when she was 3, exactly 15 years ago this week. My Emergency Medicine faculty and Informatics Fellow schedule enabled us to explore nature, hunt geocaches, and camp on the Boston Harbor Islands.
As I became a CIO, life became a bit more complicated, but every weekend we went to Drumlin Farm, Broadmoor, and other Audubon sites.
By the time she was an adolescent the time spent together evolved to time spent with her friends, extracurricular activities, and schoolwork. I served as her transportation, advisor, and editor.
As she blossomed into an adult, we became peers, having honest and open dialog about relationships, world events, and the challenges ahead.
All along the path, we tried to give her the latitude to celebrate her own successes, learn from her own mistakes, and experience the many facets of the 21st century world - within limits that kept her from going seriously off track.
She begins college in just 2 short months, making decisions about when to sleep, what to eat, and how to study, all on her own. Her house will be here whenever she wants to visit and her parents will be available whenever she wants to call. We'll not have the pitter-patter of her feet on the stairs, the ebb and flow of her friends, or the vibrant but sometimes unpredictable schedules she added to our lives.
Her parents will garden, travel, rekindle their 30 years of romance together, plan for the future, and write checks for college.
Based on all my conversations with other parents, I know that this transition is truly not saying goodbye and declaring the end of parenthood. It's the beginning of another chapter filled with new demands, more complex issues, and expanded possibilities.
As she graduates, the most important thing I can offer is my love and support, including a clear expectation of what I believe will constitute success in her next phase of life. This poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson says it better than I can:
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent;
people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest
critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child, a garden patch,
or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded
So Lara, congratulations on an extraordinary high school career. Now, go define your own success. We'll be here to beam with pride.
Posted by John Halamka at 3:00 AM