Graduation Day

Posted on: June 21st, 2013 by

Arielle and her classmates are heading for kindergarten. But for now, they are participating in their pre-K graduation ceremony. Amid applause, they head toward their seats that face the audience of their biggest fans – their loved ones.

As I watch the ceremony, my eyes fill with sad-happy awe.

My eyes brim with sadness, as I know these very special children – whom Ari has known since they were all 15 months old – will all be going to different schools. Ari is good friends with a few of them, so they will get together regularly and hopefully remain friends. But the classmates’ camaraderie will be vanishing – one student at a time – as each child leaves to his or her kindergarten and a new path in life.

And my mind swirls with memory.

I think about how far she’s come – literally. I traveled halfway across the world to become a mother, and she traveled halfway across the world to become a member of a family who loves her very much. And to become an American.

I thought about how I felt when the plane’s wheels touched American soil. I cried when we landed – partly because I knew she’d have a better life in this country than she would in her native country. Yet, I also felt grief: I was taking her away from the country and culture she was born into – and farther from her biological mother who was out there somewhere.

The children are singing graduation songs they learned especially for this occasion. Ari’s face beams as she sings joyfully, and she holds herself with an air of confidence. She’s ready to move on.

I’m not.

I live in my memories.

I recall how a hungry, tired 13-month-old with a nametag was first put into my arms, and how she howled in fear. How her sobbing and grief in the hotel room unnerved me so much that I accidentally ripped her bag of dry formula, which spilled all over the bed. How the diapers I brought were too large for her. How she spent four days in dazed shock and grief.

How far she’s come.

Ari and her fabulous teacher.

Ari and her fabulous teacher.

The teacher calls each child up, one at a time, to hand him or her a diploma and pose for photos. Ari’s smile never leaves her face as she walks confidently to the teacher. She is ecstatic as she receives her diploma. She looks at me, smiling. She is so happy I’m there, but she’s also happy with the realization of a job well done: the job of being a successful student. She’s been talking so much about her upcoming graduation, that now that it is here, she revels in it.

As each student receives a diploma, his or her peers chant that graduate’s name. The youngest support group is cheering heartily, but so are all the children. Once again I’m reminded of how kind children can be.

Ari with Diploma

My brain reverses to that first day at the preschool when she was 15 months old and couldn’t walk or even babble.

How I unknowingly brought her to school missing a shoe, which she had dislodged in the car. How her teacher reminded me that my toddler needs to come to class with both shoes firmly on her feet. How hard her first teacher worked to make sure Ari could gain her foothold.

And Ari has never stopped gaining that foothold. Ari learned to talk late, but she did learn to talk – with the collective efforts of her wonderful, patient teachers. And now, she doesn’t stop talking, and I am so happy to hear her prattle on and on.

Ari Leaving Graduation

The graduates are leaving the way they entered the area, two-by-two. Ari is beaming, gleefully waving to the crowd – especially to me. I’m so proud of my daughter. She’s been through so much in her young life, and so have I in my not-so-young life. I’ve waited miles of time to witness each milestone. And now that this milestone is here, I want to freeze time.

But time moves on. And that’s the way it should be.

Have you or a loved one achieved a milestone(s) you’d like to share?

Feel free to share any nostalgic moments.

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16 Responses to Graduation Day

  1. maysia xiong had this to say about that:

    This article made my day. I could feel so much love and warmth reading this. I’m so happy you and Ari found each other.

  2. Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:


    I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’m sure you witness so many milestones in your precious little girl. Thank you so much for commenting.

  3. Luis Delgado had this to say about that:

    This is very touching, and it reminds me of “Life is like a train ride. Some people will sit next to you and talk to you. Some will just stand around…oblivious to your existence. Some will have to leave the train while you’re having a great conversation and who knows when you’ll see them again. And if you’re lucky, there’ll be those who will sit and talk to you throughout the whole journey.”

    It’s wonderful to see people like you caring for others like her. She also looks so happy having an adoptive mother like you.

    Congratulations Ari!

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Luis, thank you! I love that “life is like a train ride” analogy. It is so true. I really appreciate your comment!

  4. Renn had this to say about that:

    Beautiful, Beth! That was a lovely recounting. Congratulations to you and your beaming daughter! Happy “longest daylight” day of the year! xo

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:


      And happy “longest daylight” to you, too! Thank you for the congratulations.

  5. Sylvia Patterson had this to say about that:

    What a wonderful, precious moment for you two beautiful young ladies to share. There will be many more but, those moments shared while they still have the pure and wondrous hearts of children are the ones we always reminisce about later. Congrats to both you beautiful ladies!

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Aw, thank you, Sylvia! You make a great point about children having “pure and wondrous hearts.” Very well-said.

  6. Kristin had this to say about that:

    What an amazing post! You wrote beautifully about it – so proud of you and your daughter, and the bright future ahead for the both of you! :)

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Thanks, Kristin! Although some milestones are bittersweet, I am enjoying them immensely. It’s amazing how fast children change — almost in a blink of an eye.

  7. karen sutherland had this to say about that:

    dear beth,

    ari’s sweet beaming face is so touching, and I know you are sooooo proud of her. both of you have come such a long way – literally, and in your lives, so locked together with your nurturing, loving mommy dream coming true, and ari’s wonderful accomplishments.
    I am so happy for you both, beth. congratulations, ari!

    much love, XXOO

    KAREN, tc

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Karen, thank you for your comment! Yes, she was beaming that day, and I’m very proud of her. I so appreciate your well wishes. :)

  8. Nancy's Point had this to say about that:

    Hi Beth,
    Love this post! This was one of those memories to treasure always. Motherhood and emotions – the two are so deeply intertwined and isn’t it amazing how we can feel so many emotions all at once? Love Ari’s smile. She really is beaming! Congrats to you both! Thanks for sharing about such a special milestone, Beth.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Thanks, Nancy! I agree that it’s incredible to feel so many emotions all at the same time. I am savoring each and every moment of motherhood and all the milestones! Thank you for your sweet words about Ari and the congratulations!

  9. Conchita Caldwell had this to say about that:

    Congratulations to Ari. She has a wonderful mother Beth L. Gainer.

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