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Family Life

This College Grad's Thank You to Parents

Ianni Le

After four months of post-grad life (having been a December graduate), my official commencement day has come and gone with little to show for it save some graduation pictures my roommate and I were able to snap.

The Class of 2020 has had quite a bit of time to reflect and process this whole concept of virtual graduation, and certainly the world rallied round to help us celebrate in unique ways.

But it dawned on me recently that the grads weren't the only ones who feel we missed out.

It's equally important to acknowledge our parents’ disappointment.

The realization came when my friend’s mother thanked me last week for allowing her to make us some dinner to celebrate graduation.

Though I’ve known her since I ran into their whole family in my dorm during freshman move-in day (her son, Thomas, was my floor mate and is the first friend I made in college), I was completely speechless to see her express such compassion and affection. She fed our whole group of friends one of the best meals any of us have had in a long time and was so sincerely grateful to be able to do it.

She told me how guilty she felt that all she could do was make dinner for a small group of us. The idea that parents could feel guilty about something like this completely blew me away. After all they’ve done to support and love us endlessly, how could they feel they should do anything more?

Appreciating our parents comes with age and maturity — something I thought I had already achieved. But, as always, there is so much more to learn and understand.

I’m ashamed to say that, in all my personal disappointment and discontent with this situation, I completely forgot how what commencement means to our parents. We’ve all been thinking of our parents during this time, of course, talking to them often and promising to send along graduation photos as soon as possible. But I think I lost sight of how important this day is to them by telling myself they only wanted to see a photo or two. I selfishly thought the disappointment was all mine, when in reality, that was never true.

So, to all the parents out there — a heartfelt thank you.

We are so sorry for the way things have turned out. I know that you all want nothing more than to see us celebrated during this special time and for us to be happy and safe. And as parents, you've waited even longer for this day than we have, doing everything you can to show us how proud you are with parties, gifts and congratulations. You also deserve to be celebrated and recognized for all your contributions to our success. Thank you so much for all that you do.

The capacity of a parent’s love is something that never fails to amaze me. It is incredibly humbling to stand in the light of your love for us.

While it is always a special experience to have the people in our lives celebrate our accomplishments with us in person, it is almost more touching to have them all share in our disappointments too. So again, thank you to all parents, for your love, compassion and unconditional support.

We will continue to need it because this is really only the beginning — which is indeed the meaning of the word "commencement." Now that graduation has come and gone, there is little room for denial — real life is inescapably here to greet us. All the recent grads in my life are struggling to deal with the end of their college careers, and while the transition into the freshman year of life is always difficult, it is doubly so now with the entire world suspended in a state of confusion.

The truth is we need you more than ever.

I encourage every graduate out there to take this opportunity and thank their parents for all they've done to help us reach this point. Acknowledging how disappointing this experience has been for the parents in my life has helped me learn more about what it means to be blessed with such unconditional love. It is yet another thing I am unspeakably grateful for now.

While it may be a while yet before we get to properly celebrate and welcome this new chapter in our lives, I have no doubt that our relationship with our parents is about to turn into something even more beautiful than it was before.

Ianni Le is a freelance writer and content creator. She attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, graduating with a degree in Media Design and English Literature. Ianni grew up in Shanghai, China and enjoys her dogs, books and food equally.
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