On Saturday, we celebrated the second of the three graduations happening for our family this month. Our middle daughter, Valerie, graduated from Chapman University in Orange County with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.Valerie2-72

We arrived on campus an hour early for the 9:15 a.m. ceremony and the minute we stepped on the campus, we could feel the energy of the parents, family members and students who like us, were all a little stunned that this day which seemed so far away four years ago, was actually here.

One of the benefits of arriving early besides being able to select a place to sit that was front and center, was the pre-Pomp and Circumstance fashion show. Every few minutes I found myself saying, “Oh my gosh, did you see her shoes!” I saw some amazing platforms and wedges; and not just on the twenty-somethings but also on the moms. No doubt this has a lot to do with Chapman being an expensive school in the OC where affluence and appearance are prized.

I quickly got an education on what is the trendiest look: it’s a baby-doll nightie (I’m already dating myself with that reference) paired with shoes that are so high that it’s surprising that they don’t give the woman wearing them a nosebleed. Gosh, did I feel ordinary in my black loafers and cardigan.

But I’m rambling – the day wasn’t about me; it was about celebrating the accomplishments of my beautiful daughter who struggled through the homesickness of her first year, less than ideal living situations, challenging classes, and learning how to assert herself to get to this graduation day. She takes with her the support and training that she received during her four years, and in particular from two outstanding faculty members who nurtured her talents and opened their hearts to become her friends as well as her professors.

College graduation is bittersweet – for the past 18 years there has always been another year of classes, familiar friends, and predictability to look forward to. As long as you’re a student, you can put off being a grown up. But now, the protective bubble of school is gone. The student loans have to be paid back and a career has to be built.

As parents, what do we do? Pray…worry…like we always have done for our kids and trust that everything that has been poured into them, has prepared them for what lies ahead.