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Graduation Leads to Reflection

Hearing accomplishments of others makes me want to step up my own.

I went to a high school graduation this weekend, and I think it was the first one I had been to in 18 years. My children are still young, as are most of my friends’ children, so I think the last graduations I attended were my college graduation followed closely that same spring by a cousin’s high school graduation.

Although I did attend some high school graduations as a young reporter, my memories of those are hazy and vague.

At this weekend's event, it was pretty incredible to hear what some of the graduates have done in the past four years.

Trips to the Amazon, China and Taiwan, along with volunteering in New Orleans or at a local soup kitchen, were just a few of the things the students had done. As a private school with an international student population, these students had more opportunities for travel than many, but I think, in any case, a graduation can make you reflect on what you did during school or even more recently.

I did travel to France with my French Club during high school, and hosted a French student for a few weeks as part of that exchange, but that was my only trip that was school-based. And I have to admit, we weren’t volunteering with impoverished youth, we were more likely to be enjoying the culture and food for some and the ability to buy a drink at a club for others.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to travel internationally since college. And if I had to list my accomplishments in the past four years, it wouldn’t include writing a children’s book, as one student had done, or waiting on a patent for a vitamin-enhanced pacifier, as another is doing.

Lately I have been feeling a little stuck in a rut and this just seemed to make it more obvious. As a stay-at-home mom it is hard to quantify what you have done on a daily or monthly basis. Laundry, grocery shopping, reading stories and attempting potty training unfortunately don’t qualify for a prize or a ceremony.

I have volunteered in my community, whether it was being on the MOMS Club board or being involved in Girl Scouts, with mixed results.

Whether you call it a leap list, a bucket list or a mighty list, I would like to outline a few things for myself so I can say, “Hey, I did that!” After seeing the video of the 80-year-old woman jumping out of an airplane and almost falling completely out of her harness, I don’t think I’ll be putting skydiving on my list, though!

My mom also was honored at the graduation; she is retiring this year after 40 years of teaching. Hearing someone else talk about her accomplishments as a teacher and administrator made us all a little emotional. From starting in the Peace Corps, to working at private schools and internationally, my mom has been an incredible teacher and mentor to many.

Hopefully, in 40 years my kids will be as proud of me and what I have done with my life as I was of my mom as she sat on that stage watching a standing ovation for her years teaching students and mentoring others.

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