Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.

— Winston Churchill

Today We All Graduate

My youngest stepdaughter graduates from college today. This morning’s ceremony and the afternoon’s celebration are a tribute to the achievements of a child now turned woman. She’s grown and succeeded, matured and failed, faltered and galloped while often surprising herself. She’s fantastic.

Like most rites of passage in a child’s life, this moment is not only for the young person to whom we raise a glass and feast on table-side toasts. Children’s rites of passage are very much owned by an entire family, or at least they should be.

College graduation is its own success measured in promises for the future. It’s also an untold or softly whispered story of family triumphs and sacrifices made so that parents can provide for a new generation a hand up from our own beginnings. We always want something for our children, perhaps different, subjectively more, infinitely better than what we hoped for ourselves. To succeed in fulfilling our own dreams of what it means to provide stepping stones, we often have to make hard choices, till new ground and let certain desires take a back seat. It’s not a complaint. It’s simply a reality—one that we’d own again, and will.

As proud as I am of my stepdaughter for each and every one of her failures and her accomplishments, I’m equally proud of my husband and I, of her mother and her stepfather for finding our way through 14 years of step family dynamics. Sometimes we’ve muddled. Sometimes we’ve shined. Each and every time we’ve worked hard to remember there’s a bigger story that will be told one day in the eyes of our children and their pursuit of adulthood.

Today is a tribute to all of us—to the children, parents and stepparents who make up my rather odd little family world—today we all graduate.

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