The Joy and Jitters of Parenthood

This is the season of college graduation. Last weekend I went to a dinner celebrating the graduation of a friend’s daughter. I also went to my own niece’s commencement the next day. I still remember, not long ago, the days my own children received their diplomas, and the proud pleasure, that special joy a parent gets from the child’s The Joy and Jitters of Parenthoodachievement. I also remember, from decades ago, what my mother used to tell me about a parent’s unending affection for her children:

养儿一百岁,常忧九十年。

Surely a young person’s graduation from college is a big accomplishment. Just count how long it takes to get to that stage. For most students, the process starts from pre-school at about three or four years of age. Until college graduation, it’s about eighteen years!

Did you notice that most schools call the graduation ceremony a “commencement?” That word, other than being “a graduation ceremony,” also means “the time when something begins,” according to most dictionaries. I think it’s fitting and ironic at the same time. While a young person just finished college, she is commencing to do something new, whether it be going to graduate school or joining the work force full-time. Now the unpredictable part of life really begins.

And it is just as scary for the parents too. What is my kid going to do with her life?, you wonder. Your child, who was just a baby a short while ago, is now officially an adult of twenty-some years old. You can’t tell her what to do anymore. Even if you try, she probably won’t listen anyway. Isn’t there any way to help her? Notice I just used the word “any” three times, either as a prefix or as a real word. Maybe I should replace it with the word “no.” No-more, no-way, no. But yes, there is something you can do: you can keep worrying.

Like my mother would say: You can raise your child to be a hundred years old, but be ready to worry for ninety.

Thank you, Mom! Now I know.

*** The End ***

 

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