You know the feeling when you let your kindergartner fill his own milk glass? You stand by bravely to the side watching him pour, knowing full well that it won’t end in a neat and tidy way, but allowing the experience to unfold before you nonetheless in the spirit of education. You see the splash of the heavy-handed initial pour as it slops out the top of the glass and splashes onto the counter and inevitably onto the floor. You watch almost in slow motion as the liquid fills the glass to the very top and actually clings tightly to the rim of the glass, almost like it has a skin, trying not to overflow. Then, in a millisecond, that one last drop breaks the seal and sends it all spilling over the top again.
Well that is exactly how I feel today-- like a glass that’s been filling and filling drop by drop until I am so full that I’m clinging tightly to the edges of my familiar world to hold it all in, to keep all the precious time tightly contained. But it just takes one tiny drop to send it all gushing over the top of the rim. I knew the fateful drop was coming. I guess I just didn’t know exactly how to prepare.
This was my son’s high school graduation weekend. A time filled with both relief and anxiety, hello’s and goodbyes, celebration and quiet reflection. A day I had both planned for and dreaded since he walked into Kindergarten. We’ve planned parties, entertained out of town guests, told and re-told favorite school day memories from preschool through senior year. It’s been an amazing journey and we topped it off with an amazing weekend of celebrations.
But, the bottom line is, I felt like I was drifting through the weekend, left with a lot of metaphors for so many feelings that are just too big to comprehend. It felt something like flying a drone over a forest and looking down at the trees, so tall and spectacular. Understanding the time and space it took for them to grow into such amazing beauty, but not fully able to absorb the magnitude of it.
I think leading up to this day I, I thought I knew how I would feel. I expected to cry when he walked across the stage, handsome in his cap and gown. I didn’t. I expected to be filled with the mixed emotions of both pride and joy along with a tinge of sadness at the monumental occasion. Instead, I just felt very very full. Like my heart was stretching tight with so much to hold, so much I couldn’t quite feel it or understand it. I felt like I was searching all weekend for a way to describe the enormity of it all and to feel appropriately.
Now, I see that I’d become my own science experiment on surface tension, clinging tightly to the molecules of our familiar life as they were bulging like a skin over the top of the glass, not wanting to separate or let anything slip especially at the edge where this new unknown world gives us nothing to grab onto.
Today, now that the pomp and circumstance has calmed, I feel with clarity one thing-- that the one extra drop that caused everything to come spilling out, happened. No telling what exactly it was. It was not any one thing, or person or iconic moment. But, the point is, it happened. And now, today, I feel just a little emptier, flatter, a little more fragile, and uneasy. I now feel an entire flood of emotions all at once, as though all of the things I’d been holding in so tightly, now have plenty of room to slosh around and spill out. My brain knows that all is well, but my heart is not as sure and the tears I thought would come before are now spilling out unexpectedly. And while I certainly can and will begin again filling my bucket drop by drop, it’s still a new bucket. This morning the one thing I’m sure of is that I feel a kindred spirit with my half full cup of coffee.