Sunday, September 4, 2011

Awards & Validation

My sons are transitioning well into college and the senior year of high school.

My oldest is considering joining a business fraternity that offers internships to all its members. He claims that the members last year all got jobs within 3 months of graduation. He is doing well socially, but I knew that would be one of his strengths. When he auditioned for admittance into the music dept., the head of the music college was there, and was so impressed he invited my son out to lunch off campus for an opportunity to get to know him.

There was a period of a week and a half, when my son wanted to drop a class he didn't feel he'd do well in and his adviser was against the request. But that has been worked out within the time deadline and my son is much happier with his new class. It was a good exercise for him to have to stand up for himself and go after what he knew in his heart was the right decision. And to accomplish that on his own.

My youngest, went through a few tough days himself at the start of the year when all of his teachers kept making references to his older brother. But he has received a few "awards" of his own. His graphic arts teacher told him that he is one of the top two, if not top graphic artist in the school. As such, he was drafted to design the cover for the Fall Band Festival Program, the Homecoming Tickets and the Fall Play Posters. He has been working on the band design first since it is due on Tuesday and I have to say that the design and format are pretty incredible. I couldn't do what he does creatively and then with the computer. Good for him to finally get some recognition in an area his brother is not a star.

I feel sad at times that the boys' dad isn't here to experience the talents and awards of his sons. When I tell people, the few in my life I do talk to about my sons there isn't the sense of pride and warmth that would come from a parent experiencing the successes of one of their own. When my husband was alive it was enough to share the successes, talents and accomplishments of our boys with each other. With him gone, I find that I make and effort to tell someone the good news about my sons simply because I have to share it with someone. But oftentimes, the end result is one of disappointment because quite simply, no one can love your kids more than you do. They may nod and smile and say "that's nice," but it is somewhat rote and superficial. Just another "loss" to tick off on my list - for my sons and for me. And one that is taken for granted by those married or if not, still with a co-parent in which to share and bask in the joy that comes from having decent and pretty good kids. And I suppose I should add, that most kids are pretty good and decent. And most talented in something. So I do think that most parents share these moments together at certain points in their kids' lives - the soccer goals scored, the academic recognition, the band or orchestra solos...

Parents can get off on bragging about their offspring to each other. I sometimes fear that I may come across as a braggart or overly involved with my sons because when I talk to people I do mention the successes of my kids. But it's not like I'm going to dwell on what isn't going well for them (which thankfully has never been that much). Still, you know how there is always that PTA mom out there that has to brag about how her kids are in the gifted program (real example from my past). When she spreads it on thick it can get annoying. I spread it on because if I don't, I just might burst - I have to not because I'm overly singing my sons' praises. I think that when our kids do well, we can feel validated that we've also done something well. And boy of boy, do widows need to feel and hear that praise.


  1. Sounds as if both your boys are doing wonderfully so far. I hope they both have great years! :)

    I do know that feeling of not being able to share my daughter's accomplishments with her dad - I mean, of course the rest of the family cares, but it's not the same sort of pride. One thing that's really interesting (and a little odd) to me is that she doesn't seem to want or need anyone else's validation; when she had her promotion to junior high last spring, I asked her if she wanted me to invite some of her grandparents and aunts and uncles to the ceremony, and she said "No, I only want you to come." I felt kind of bad that there weren't more people to clap for her (some of the kids practically had their own cheering section) but it was what she wanted.

  2. Vanessa - Interesting about your daughter. I wonder if my sons are somewhat the same way. My immediate family has attended almost no events of the boys the past eight years and I think they've just come to expect that I'll be the only one there. It is nice, though, to share the really special moments with someone... Glad my post made sense to someone else.

  3. Your comment makes a great deal of sense...sometimes I have cried that no one else feels the successes or disappointments for my three as much as I have. My mother passed a few months after my husband. She would have shared in all the experieces with gusto:) Since my last just started college, this is the first year I don't have to attend games, homecoming, awards assemblies etc. by myself (or with friends). It is a great relief instead of sorrow (much to my surprise). I hope by my sharing, this helps you:) Think of a volunteer organization you'd like to join - make it your 'job' to meet new people. It's hard, but in the long run it pays off. A new chapter is coming up...

  4. Nancy - I appreciate and love to hear from someone else who has similar experiences. I am looking forward to the next phase of having a break from all the award assemblies, concerts, etc. I am eager for the next chapter, realizing I will probably need to go back to school in some way so as to move into a more professional work environment. I joke with my oldest that next year I'll be on his campus taking classes alongside him. But you never know. My youngest wants to attend my old state college so I could pick up classes there too... Thanks for your insight and input.