I can still recall the excitement of Jeni's kindergarten graduation. She was adamant about wanting her picture taken with "Teacher Viola."
Jeni once confided that when Teacher Viola got down real close to talk to you, you could see her eyes were all cracked. Initially confused, I later ascertained that her cracked eyes were actually bloodshot. I have a great deal of respect for those bloodshot eyes, having spent time as a mother working full-time outside the home.
There were goody bags and a celebration very befitting this important milestone. And at the end, I loaded up my sticky, tired child and drove 10 minutes home.
When I hopped a plane for Jeni's high school graduation, she wanted to be photographed with her boyfriend (now her live-in fiance').
The graduating class was so large that it was conducted at the county coliseum. I was seated in the nosebleed section and strained to pick out my baby girl. As luck would have it, I was sitting directly in front of a man who kept pointing out my daughter and referring to her as "my Jeni."
After I introduced myself as Jeni's mother, I learned this was the boyfriend's father. He was just as proud of Jen and he was of his own son.
After graduation, we all went out for a nice lunch in celebration....
Daniel and his big sis, and Jeni and her big sis.
Yesterday, my Jeni graduated from college. Her ceremony was at 10 a.m.
Economics and obligations from school prevented me from attending. She and I have shared tears together many times because of this over the past few weeks.
I spoke to her Friday afternoon as she was in the final meltdown stage. Through tears she told me she had just finished giving a 20-minute presentation to 300 people. She was due to begin preparing the floral arrangements in a hour for the next day's ceremony. The apartment, she said, was a wreck and Daniel's mother was arriving to spend the night. The stress-level had reached an all time high.
I took this opportunity to speak calmly about how much she had accomplished. I reminded her that while JB and I may have funded her education--she did the real work--and that's what was important. She had accomplished this for herself through determination and tenacity.
I encouraged her to let go of expectations from family and friends and concentrate on herself. Prioritze.
She understands why I couldn't be there. Her sister (who lives in the same city with her father) was afraid to make the 5 hour trip because of complications with her car. It is upsetting that the sperm donor couldn't be human long enough to offer a ride to his eldest daughter. It would have meant so much to both of the girls.
I gave her the "you're from strong stock" speech that Momo always gives me. I know it well, and it always does the trick. I reminded her of times once perceived as challenging, that are hysterically funny in retrospect. By the end of the conversation, she was giggling.
I didn't phone her yesterday, as I know she was up to her eyeballs in houseguests.
But if I know my Jeni, I suspect she turned a few heads.