living a well tended life... at any age

there goes my hero.

“So are you writing a post about Chelsea’s graduation”?

I got this a LOT. And I’m not surprised. A child’s college graduation is truly unlike any other milestone in a parent’s life.

I’ll try to explain:

Assuming your child goes the traditional straight-to-college-finishes-in-four-years route, you will have spent 17 of 22 years dealing with their education. That’s almost 80% of their lives. It’s a marathon, for sure, with scant time for “perspective”. For “taking a step back”. For “looking at the big picture”. Most of the time you’re spinning plates.

Yes, there’s a slight reprieve each summer, wherein you’ve just about sifted through all of last year’s  paperwork before the new round descends. And since the college process is exponentially more fraught than the prior 12 years COMBINED, things really escalate toward the end.

And then you blink, and one day you find yourself here:

Chelsea college graduatio

This picture was quickly snapped with my phone during the smaller ceremony where Chelsea graduated from the department of her major. In a way it was more meaningful than the “big” graduation in the football stadium – it was more intimate, and we got to see her walk across the stage as her name was called (with Noah shouting out for her, of course).

Because we were a large group we had to split up, and I found myself sitting alone. Which was quite fitting. Because I alone really went through every moment of those four years with her. Mike and our family, of course, supported her greatly – in every way. But I was “in it”. For better. And worse.

And that’s why it’s taken me three months – almost to the day- to craft this post. It would have been so easy to just hammer out a few lines – accompanied by pictures of smiling faces – about how “proud” I am. About how “hard” she worked. About the “bright future” she had in store.

And it would have all been true. But there were other things. You know there were. And had I simply left it at that, you wouldn’t have known:

That she applied early decision to her first choice school and didn’t get in.

That she was then wait-listed for her second choice school.

That while she was anxiously waiting to hear if she got into that school, she was told at a gathering with her dad’s family – by an uncle who was (ready?) a college admissions officer – that: a) she was NEVER going to get in, and b) it was okay, because there was always “clown college”.

(She got in.)

That in the very first semester of her freshman year she was told by her Micro Economics (I know, don’t even) teacher that she was failing the class, that there was nothing she could do to pass, and she had missed the deadline to drop the class by one day.

(She failed the class. But took it again with a different teacher. And passed.)

That her dad’s wife took the occasion of her farewell dinner before her sophomore year to verbally eviscerate her – calling her (among other, unmentionable things) a “cold-hearted b—h”, and telling her she could kiss her college tuition goodbye. That incident pretty much colored Chelsea’s entire sophomore year. But she made it through – emotionally slammed, but determined not to go under.

That during that same year she almost transferred to another school – overwhelmed by the academic stresses and pressures of her major. We even set up an appointment to visit the school during her spring break. But in the end she decided to stay.

So now you know.

Fortunately, there were some pretty amazing things too:

A paper she wrote for an English class was used as the “model”  for the following semester’s course.

She was accepted to her department’s very competitive study abroad program, in Paris. She was awarded two highly coveted internships while she was there, and aced all of her classes too.

She maintained an internship  at a major apparel company that she had started working for in high school -being asked back every winter and summer break,  and assigned increasingly more challenging and prestigious projects. She is now working for the company, on a long-term temp assignment that will hopefully (fingers crossed) turn into a full-time position.

She cultivated a group of friends – boys and girls who stayed together and pretty much lived together for all four years – who supported one another, took care of one another, and set the bar for the kind of experience I hope Conor and Noah have when they “get there”.

And, of course, she graduated from college – from the most challenging of all of the schools that she was accepted to. After many all-nighters spent at the library. After many (many) nail-biters, waiting to see if she passed yet another grueling course (did I mention Micro Economics? It was followed by Macro Economics). After many difficult good-byes, as she left for another semester away.

So now you know why I struggled with this post.

I’m fully aware that if you divined my life solely from my Instagram feed and Facebook posts, you could assume it was all doughnuts, the High Line and treks through Central Park. And there is no question that I am blessed to have this life, with my wonderful husband and children.

But there was no way that I could share this momentous occasion without including ALL of the events that marked it. Because then you couldn’t possibly appreciate how sweet – how very, very sweet – the moment in that picture was.

My friend Andrea summed it up so beautifully:

“That glance back at you has the entire universe in it.” 

It really did, you guys.

Having a front row seat to this girl’s life has been my greatest joy and privilege. She’s strong, resilient and determined. She’s funny, warm and stylish.

She’s my hero.

And now you know why.

32 Comments

  1. Sue on August 22, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Okay, now I’m crying; what a powerful and beautiful post. It looks like Chelsea has her mother’s resolve and determination, lucky girl. You’re an amazing mother Sheri, and you’ve got an amazing daughter. Thank you for sharing this beautiful and heartfelt post.

    • sherisilver on August 22, 2013 at 8:06 am

      Thanks my friend. xo

  2. Megan on August 22, 2013 at 8:11 am

    I loved this post. Congrats to you and your hard working daughter!

    • sherisilver on August 22, 2013 at 8:12 am

      Thank you Megan! xo

  3. Meredith on August 22, 2013 at 8:34 am

    You just made cry! Love the both of you, big hugs and congrats!

    • sherisilver on August 22, 2013 at 8:55 am

      Love ya right back. xo

  4. Sarah on August 22, 2013 at 9:19 am

    You, my dear, wax magical poetic on experiences. This was just beautiful, and for all the reasons you know, touched me in a very personal way. Chelsea is so very lucky to have you on her journey. Hug.

    • sherisilver on August 22, 2013 at 10:05 am

      When you tell me I’ve “done good”, it makes my day. Hugs back, Sarah. xoxo

  5. Leslie on August 22, 2013 at 9:28 am

    So sweet. Thanks for sharing all of it, because a complete picture really does make it sweeter, doesn’t it? Congratulations to Chelsea and also to you Mama, great job. xo

    • sherisilver on August 22, 2013 at 10:04 am

      Thank you so much Leslie! xoxo

  6. June Pope on August 22, 2013 at 9:36 am

    I’m so happy for your Baby Girl and your whole family. She’s so pretty and looks so sweet (unlike any cold-hearted b*#~h I’ve ever seen). You do have plenty to be thankful for. Congratulations!

    • sherisilver on August 22, 2013 at 10:04 am

      She’s the sweetest, to be sure – thank you SO much – I am most thankful indeed. 🙂

  7. Jenny on August 22, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Wow. I love this. Lisa Allen posted a link to this post on her facebook page, I’m so glad she did! Sounds like we (and our kids) might have a few things in common. Can’t wait to dig in.

    And congratulations to both you, and your hero. I’m sure she says the same thing about you, by the way.

    • sherisilver on August 22, 2013 at 10:03 am

      Love Lisa! Thanks so much for writing – comments like yours wipe out any doubt I have about “personal” posts such as these. 🙂

  8. Melanie on August 22, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Thank you for sharing this! I hope to meet this wonderful woman someday. Congratulations, Chelsea! xo

    • sherisilver on August 22, 2013 at 10:32 am

      Me too Melanie; thank you! xo

  9. Sandra on August 22, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Lovely post – powerful to share the entire story and not just the pretty highlights.

    All of it is part of growing up – some just get a bit too much of it a bit too soon.

    Well done Chelsea!

    • sherisilver on August 22, 2013 at 10:33 am

      Thanks Sandra – the girl has definitely had her share of the “too soon” – but all the stronger for it. xo

  10. Jen on August 22, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Tears. TEARS!

    You know, because I’ve told you often, how much I hope I have the same strong relationship with Ellie and Jonah as they grow up, as you’ve had with your kids.

    This post was an incredible lovely testament to Chelsea’s strength and determination. And yours too.

    • sherisilver on August 22, 2013 at 11:24 am

      There is no question that you will have that with your kids – you already do, and though I’ve never met them I can tell how special they are. How can they not be – look at their parents? xo

  11. Cindy on August 22, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    I am in tears! Could possibly be my favorite post ever! Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! You know how i feel about Chelsea and to hear what she triumphed through gives me even greater respect for her. Such a fine person raised by a fine woman! I am sure she is stronger for having faced this adversity. May all her dreams come true!

    • sherisilver on August 22, 2013 at 6:30 pm

      I love you. Thank you. xoxo

  12. Kerri on August 22, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    Sheri, what a tribute. And what a lucky young woman. Beautiful.

    • sherisilver on August 22, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      Thanks Kerri. xoxo

  13. Ellen Monheit on August 25, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    I don’t know you except through your posts, but perhaps that is enough! You had me in tears with your honest and magnificent account of your daughter’s accomplishments through such adversity! Thank you!

    • sherisilver on August 25, 2013 at 5:17 pm

      Wow Ellen – thanks so much. She’s a gem. 🙂

  14. Shalagh Hogan on August 25, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    I was a young woman having a hard time with completing college. Also with a scary step mom and not as much “support”. Now I have a surrogate daughter with the same lack of faith in a degree I had. My heart is there with you. You did right by her. And by getting personal on the blog.
    Love,
    Shalagh

    • sherisilver on August 25, 2013 at 9:19 pm

      Shalagh – thank you so much. A comment like yours makes any doubts I had about writing this disappear. xo

  15. Caroline on August 28, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    I write this with tears in my eyes. I hope my girls grow into the kind of woman that Chelsea is. She had a great example to follow! It moves me how connected you are with her. What a great team you have made.

    So proud of your Chelsea. Please pass along my congratulations to her and love from all of us.

    xo Caroline

    • sherisilver on August 28, 2013 at 8:11 pm

      Thank you my friend – from the bottom of my heart! xoxo

  16. venus on September 13, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Sheri I did not see this before-I am so proud of you! You were able to give the whole perspective on how your beautiful Chelsea got where she is today. When her dad and his extended family did not have the love or kindness in their heart to encourage her- YOU DID! You are an awesome mom and Chelsea is the young lady she is because of you, Mike and your parents-Congratulations! 🙂

    • sherisilver on September 13, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      Thanks my friend – that means so much to me. While I could never protect her from every hurt, I did the best I could to make sure she knew how much she was loved. I’m so glad that came through in what you read. Love you. xo

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