My younger son Ross will graduate from high school in a few weeks and I've been drawn into the nostalgia that surrounds this event...we're submitting a cropped version of this photo for the wall of childhood photos that will hang at the high school graduation party. We laughed that Ross (on the left, his older brother on the right) is still covered with mud after all these years--he is heading to Northern AZ University in the fall for a degree in ceramics.
Marveling at the growth of our kids is of course part of the joy of parenthood... memories of baby and childhood plus pride in the young adults they've become are all in the mix. But as I looked today at this photo of my two little boys (while tearing up a bit, I admit) I realized that while I'm celebrating Ross's graduation in this complex flood of emotions, including a fond look back over 18 years, it's kind of hard to have that perspective on my own previous two decades.
Photos from the same time period as this one show that the mother of these little boys was not only younger, but slimmer, more energetic and had far fewer gray hairs than today's version. And when I look at her image, my thinking kind of stops there. There isn't the same fondness for that woman that I feel towards these little boys--it's more like envy, or distress over the ravages of time. I'm thinking this is probably a common experience for those of us digging through old albums as our kids prepare to leave home.
But I do also recall that younger woman was chronically starved for studio time, often stressed and rushed, naive in certain ways, and going through all the struggles of an emerging artist. A lot has happened in 18 years towards her maturity as an artist (and perhaps as a person too.)
So I'm thinking, growth is growth, and let's celebrate it in all its forms! In spite of seeing it beautifully demonstrated by children, I think we're a bit slow to appreciate it in ourselves, distracted as we may be by gray hair and loss of youth. To all parents of grads--that kid that was you 18 years ago was sure cute, but look how you've grown!