Note: I wrote this on Monday, July 27, but I was so busy I forgot to actually hit the “publish” button. So I’m posting it several days later but backdating it. Sorry for the confusion!
At long last, my son graduated yesterday. It was definitely not your traditional graduation. But it was so much better than it could’ve been, especially as I hear from my friends who have seniors in other school systems.
At 8 AM yesterday morning, we arrived at the school and headed straight to the lawn out front, where they had placed our reserve seating (in alphabetical order), with each family only being allowed to have their graduate, the graduate’s parents, and if applicable, their stepparents. They seated each family a minimum of 6 feet apart, and we all had to wear masks the entire time.
For some of us, we sat the entire time with the sun directly in our eyes. That was a bit challenging, but Jamie found a creative way to use our seat marker to help provide some shade so he could at least see the stage.
There was no pomp and circumstance, no graduation march. We all just sat and listened to the school principal give a short speech, and then the valedictorian and salutatorian also gave short speeches. After that, they called the graduates up one by one, and then read off their honors and accolades and their future plans as they handed them their diploma.
The graduates were allowed to remove their masks when they were on stage having their names and information read, while a professional photographer (not me!) took a photo, but then they had to put their mask back on as they made their way back to their seat. After Jamie received his diploma, as he was coming back around to where we sat at the beginning of the fourth row, I wanted to get a picture of him, diploma in hand, freshly graduated. He saw me as he walked toward me, and I kept motioning for him to pull his mask down for a quick second so I could actually see his face in the photo, but he didn’t get it. Instead, I had to take the picture as he was.
As I look back on it now, I think it was fate that he didn’t realize that I wanted him to remove the mask, because I think this picture, more than anything else, sums up his senior year.
And yet, as depressing as that might seem, yesterday was actually a great day. Jamie was in really good spirits, despite the fact that we had to be out the door by 7:15 a.m. to make it to the school for the 8 AM ceremony. (They moved it from 3 PM because they thought doing it in the morning would ensure less people were out and about in town to help maintain social distancing.) Even though he didn’t get to sit with his friends, he seemed to enjoy sitting with us, cracking jokes every once in a while. But then, afterwards, that’s when he really blossomed. Whether right or wrong, once the official ceremony was over, and the school was no longer in charge of us, the majority of people took their masks off, and the kids went around and said their goodbyes to each other (with lots of pictures, of course). Jamie, my kid who hates being photographed, posed for picture after picture with his friends, and he was actually one of the last kids to leave the grounds. Jason and I eventually went to the car because we were so hot and tired after sitting in the direct sunlight for two hours on a 90+ degree day that we just didn’t feel like waiting around for him anymore. 😛
All in all, although it certainly wasn’t the ideal graduation, it was definitely better than what he could have had. Many of my friends had seniors that did virtual graduations, drive-through graduations, segmented graduations where only 30 kids at a time participated, and some had no graduation at all, so I am definitely not complaining. Just seeing the smile on Jamie‘s face in our picture together after the ceremony really says it all.
He was happy, so I was happy. It was nice to finally get some closure to his high school career.
Now, we wait and stress about his party on Friday. Hosting a graduation party at your home is certainly stressful enough, but then add in the challenge of trying to ensure some sort of compliance with state health guidelines, and it’s pretty much a nightmare. I’m just grateful that we chose to have it at our house and not at a hall or other venue, because right now our state orders prohibit any gatherings in buildings or public places of more than a small number of people.
As I get ready for this party, I‘ve been really focused on eating healthy for the last month. Four weeks ago, I decided I wanted to lose 10 pounds by the day of the party. Kind of a lofty goal, but it was a nice round number. Mostly I just want to feel better about myself, not to mention fit into one of my favorite pairs of shorts which happened to be uncomfortably snug.
To achieve this goal, I decided I would set two smaller goals. Goal #1 was to reduce carbs. I did not cut them out (because I like sugar too much), but I did cut WAY back on the sweets, and I stopped eating pasta, rice, and potatoes, and while I didn’t completely cut out breads, I did drastically reduce it to almost none. (Basically just a piece of rye toast with my eggs for breakfast on the weekends.)
So that was one of my two smaller goals. The other one was to track and measure everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything. I’ve tracked my food for months, but I got away from measuring everything, and the honest truth is I was not 100% diligent in tracking, either. I might trake that I ate four Hersheys kissesin a day, but I probably would eat more like 10, because they were always nearby it in my fridge, nice and cold (the way I like them). And then on weekends I was really bad. A bite here, half a cookie there, and plenty more.
So, I re-committed myself to tracking and measuring, and I asked my friend Toddra to keep me accountable. Toddra is one of my running buddies, and not too long ago, Toddra was about 20 or 25 pounds overweight and very unhappy. She made some changes, including cutting out carbs and being much more mindful of what she’s eating, and she’s lost that 25 pounds. I figured she would be a good person to keep me on track, since she was so successful herself.
I was true to my word for the next four weeks. I cut out the starches, significantly reduced my sugar intake, and I became very adept at peeling away the skin of fried chicken and just eating the breast meat at the 10 graduation parties that I’ve been to in the last month.
So what was the verdict? Well, I did not lose 10 pounds. However, I did lose 9 pounds!
More importantly, the shorts that I want to wear to Jamie‘s graduation party actually fit and are comfortable right now! I have been very diligent these last four weeks, and it paid off. I’m not only back into the 120s for the first time in almost a year, I’m actually at the lowest I’ve been in almost 2 years, back when I was training for a marathon! I’m really proud of myself to have gotten down into the 120s again, and also proud that I managed to do it without using Weight Watchers, and without the benefit of training for a race and therefore running a ton of extra miles. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still been running consistently, but consistently without training for a race is 4 miles a day during the week, and anywhere from 5 to 8 on the weekends. When I’m racing, it’s 4-5 miles during the week and upwards of 10 or more on the weekends!
But all this good news does make some other things very clear: I can no longer use the excuses that I’ve been using for not being in goal range. No more blaming menopause, or the fact that I’m just getting older and it’s harder to lose weight as you age, or that I’m not running enough. Clearly, when I work hard and follow the healthy eating guidelines that should work, they do.
For all my whining in the last year or so, it seems pretty apparent that I do well when I have a goal and a hard and fast deadline. But once Friday rolls around (the day of our graduation party), I’m going to admit that I’m a little worried about what will happen next. As I’ve learned over the last eight years, losing weight is easier than sustaining the weight loss, so I need to really think about how I’m going to act after Friday. Sometimes when I’m denying myself a treat like a cookie at a graduation party, I think to myself, “Just wait until after the 31st, and then I’ll have all the cookies.” But I know that’s not the right attitude.
I’m not sure how I’m going to make this work for the long-haul, but I have to admit, I do really enjoy the feeling of success and fitting into my clothes comfortably, and just knowing that I feel better about myself every day. I’ve also learned that I really like cauliflower rice, and I don’t miss the pasta, potatoes, and the rice as much as I thought I would. I do miss the cookies, though, but I’m going to do my best to enjoy everything in moderation.
I may be off the wagon a bit on Friday, because assuming I survive this graduation party (ha!), I do plan to indulge a little bit after everyone leaves.
Thank you for reading!