Last week when I was thinking about what to do for this particular post in the Thirty Day Challenge, I thought that I would end up posting a picture of me and my mother at last Friday night's "hooding ceremony" (a part of graduation). That was before I completely forgot to take a picture with my mother. Can you believe it? Yes, I feel a bit guilty. I have plenty of reasons -- it was the end of a 12-hour work day and I was exhausted, my mind was on other things, I wasn't photogenic at all that evening, I just wanted to be done -- but in reality I think it was a mental slip. This is one of two photos I have with my mother from that night -- both were taken in the restaurant, not at the actual ceremony, so it looks like any other evening out (except for the fact that we only go "out" about once a year):
My family makes me crazy. I love them, but certain members in particular make me question my sanity. Sometimes I think that life would be better if I just ignored all of them, but I love them and so I keep the madness in my life. But I am trying to set better boundaries, especially since this year is supposed to be one of intentionality, so that means keeping Crazymaker and the Crazies at a distance.
Of course one can't really keep family away during a graduation or a similarly momentous event. The last time I attended a graduate-level hooding ceremony or graduation I heard so many people thank their family and friends for helping them reach the end of the school-road. It was a sentiment I could not fully understand. I am thankful for friends and support -- I have had a lot of encouragement, especially this past year, from friends and colleagues who wanted to see me make it to the end. But I have not had support from family. I don't expect it from my siblings, since for most of them I still act as parent (whether they see it that way or not is immaterial -- I still plan family gatherings, make sure everyone is fed, help with college or job or medical forms and applications and schedules, provide transportation...you get the picture). And from the older generations in my family...well, I have one grandparent left, a few uninvolved aunts and uncles, a Crazymaker, and a Sperm Donor (the real term I use for this person is not BlogLand-appropriate; let's just say we haven't spoken in at least eight years for very good reason). When I stood at the front of the room last Friday night and was given the chance to speak for a moment, I thanked my friends, colleagues, students, and family, but what I wanted to do was shout from the rooftops "I DID IT! It was all me! I did this without the support of parents or grandparents or anyone like that and I made it to the end!!" Of course saying something like that might hurt someone's feelings, so I just share it with Honey (who was supportive, even when wondering why I wanted to pursue this degree, and who knows my family history) and I shout it through BlogLand. In the interest of full disclosure, my mother did say that evening that I made it this far without family support -- what she meant was financially, but I would say that it should also include non-monetary means. But then of course she says a lot of things and I know just how much to credit those things.
I sent my grandfather a card a few weeks ago saying I was becoming "doctor." I have yet to hear from him. The day after my graduation I found a letter to a brother in the mail, but no note to me. And so I did what I was supposed to do: printed a few pictures, sent a note about graduation, and left it at that. I know not to expect anything and so I try not to be disappointed when my lack of expectations prove to be well-founded. (Perhaps what bothers me most is a family that claims they value family but their actions speak louder than words.)
I love my family. I really do. I just don't always like them. But there is one good thing that comes out of this: I can set an example for my younger siblings, showing them that they can achieve anything with a bit of perseverance and determination. And now, with The Teenager living in my house, Honey and I can work very hard to give him the support and start in life that I never received. Sadly, he is a teenager, which means that it's already late in life and he will get to choose whether or not he wants to receive that support. We'll see what he decides...fingers crossed.