I haven’t done a weekend recap post in a while, but it was a loooong weekend around here. It was action packed so I wanted to share it with you all. All in one day, my family had two college graduations and a junior prom and then the following day, we had a dance performance. Of course all the schools plan these events for the same exact day. We’ve been planning how we’d go about handling this for months now and I think we did a pretty good job pulling it all off. It’s safe to say we’re all completely exhausted and I am very much looking forward to my next full day off from life (Wednesday can’t get here fast enough!).
Since we had a ton of events going on, I decided to take Friday off from work so that I could run errands and get everything ready to go for Saturday. I got the oil changed in the car, got my nails done, did some shopping, brought our dog to Zack’s mom’s house along with what feels like a million other tasks. Friday alone was a long day. Since we had to wake up super early on Saturday, I spent the night at my dad’s house Friday night rather than going all the way home. I haven’t had a sleep over with my sisters in a whole so it was nice to relax with them a bit.
Saturday morning, we started our day at 5 o’clock…this is after going to bed at 2 o’clock in the morning. It was rough to say the least. Alex and I started our day with a Monster energy drink in order to get ourselves up and running, but we still managed to get out the door almost 30 minutes later than we had planned. That’s what you get when you have four women in one house. All of whom are not morning people and didn’t get up until the last possible minute. So the four of us all crowded the bathroom trying to get ready at the same time while my dad waited in the living room. You’d think he’d be used to it by now.
Since our day was so jam-packed, we divided everyone into multiple cars. I took Alex and Hannah in my car while my dad and stepmom took a separate car. We started the day with Kendal’s graduation at Franklin Pierce University. Her graduation started at 10:30am and even with leaving the house late, we still somehow arrived on time. I had my fingers crossed for warm, beautiful weather since we all planned on wearing dresses, but we had no idea graduation #1 would be outdoors…in the direct sunlight. It was a bit on the warm side, but I happened to luck out when it came to sunburns. I completely forgot to fix the back of my dress to cover my bra before leaving the house so I was forced to keep my cardigan on throughout the day to keep it covered. Although it was super hot and I was sweating like crazy, it prevented me from having burnt shoulders at the end of the day. Unfortunately, I got a weird sunburn on my arms (the sleeves were rolled about halfway), but it wasn’t too bad. It definitely could have been worse.
I also saw my mom at Kendal’s graduation which was a bit on the strange side. My parents split up in 2013 and finalized their divorce last summer. I don’t have much of a relationship with her anymore and the last time I saw her was December 2014. So it was bittersweet seeing her. It was nice, but strange at the same time. I plan to possibly get together with her this summer when Zack comes home so that she can see us before we move, but we’ll see how the summer goes first.
Kendal’s graduation was about an hour away from my graduation in Manchester, NH and since I had to be at my graduation by 1 o’clock, I could only stay at her’s until about noon at the very latest. My graduation started at 2pm so it was super tight going from hers to mine. I left at noon like planned with my stepsister, Hannah. I was hoping to see Kendal get her diploma before leaving, but it was a super slow ceremony and they were still on speeches when we left. So unfortunately, I did not get to stay long enough to actually see her graduate. But Hannah and I booked it out of there so that we could stop for coffee on the way to my graduation.
I arrived about 15 minutes late, but it wasn’t bad at all. Next, my grandparents, stepmom, and my sister, Alex all left once Kendal crossed the stage and got her diploma. I believe they all arrived on site sometime between 1:45 and 2pm so they were just in time. Zack’s mom, brother, and grandmother were all there waiting for us as well. It worked out great!
While my family all found each other in the lobby and picked out where to sit, I was off getting ready for the ceremony. I had a few moments where I was missing Zack, but overall, I didn’t do too bad. I met some lovely women before the ceremony and it was so much fun getting to know my classmates. My school divides the graduation up into four separate ceremonies: undergraduates, graduates, online undergraduates, and online graduates. So everyone I graduated with were specifically students who were online undergrads (I’m not sure how many we had, but there were a few thousand students there).
It was so amazing to be surrounded by so many people who worked so hard to earn their degrees. Not that “normal” students aren’t as hardworking or anything. But these are students who, like myself, had to work around so many of life’s obstacles to get to this point. These students are either parents, have full-time jobs, are active duty military as well as spouses and those in the reserves. They’re people who weren’t necessarily able to go the traditional route right out of high school. It was inspirational to be surrounded by so many amazing men and women and to feel like I actually belonged somewhere. Like I wasn’t “behind” in my education or considered a “failure” for not being done with this degree two years ago like planned. It was an incredible feeling and although there were thousands of people in the room, not once did I feel small and insignificant. I was right where I belonged.
Once we all marched in and were settled in our seats, the ceremony officially began and the nerves started to set in. At this point, the only person I didn’t have in the audience yet was my dad and I was super worried that he wouldn’t be able to make it. Kendal is currently on a new medication and isn’t able to drive so my dad had to stay at her graduation until the very end in order to get her car from her (she’s moving back to Maine so he drove her car back for her). I was a nervous wreck over this, but throughout the opening speeches, I got many snapchats like the one above from Zack’s mom and my siblings, letting me know they were there. It’s so great to see both sides of my family together in one place and I’m so very fortunate that everyone gets along (the photo below is my brother-in-law, stepsister, and mother-in-law). I’m one of the few who can say I have one whole family rather than two separate ones.
About 45 minutes into the ceremony, they began handing out diplomas. Still, no dad. It was horrible. I sat there continuously texting Hannah to check on the status of everyone’s whereabouts. Since Alex had prom at 6pm and it was a 2 hour drive back to Maine, she and my stepmom had to leave my graduation pretty early on. It sucked, but completely understandable considering how crazy the day was. So they rushed back to get her ready for prom (I later got photos and she looked absolutely gorgeous. It’s crazy that my baby sister is 17 already).
Within 20 minutes or so, it was time for my row to stand up and move to the line of students receiving their degrees. At this exact moment, I got a snapchat from Zack’s mom, showing me my dad as he was taking his seat with the family. I instantly teared up because aside from Zack, my dad was the number one person I wanted at my graduation. It was hard enough not having Zack there, but I would have been devastated if my dad had missed it too.
***Now here’s a bit of a disclaimer. Although I did graduate, my program isn’t technically complete. They held graduation in the middle of an online semester. SO I still have three weeks left of class and I’ll receive my diploma in the mail in early July. BUT I still count myself as “graduated”.
After the ceremony was over, I met up with my family outside for photos. I’m not an alcoholic or anything, but I was in desperate need of a drink at that point. And some food (we were literally too busy to eat all day!). Luckily there was a small pub across the street that we were able to escape to for a bit and my dad treated us all to drinks and dinner before we all parted ways to head back to Maine. It was so nice to finally have the chance to sit down and relax without having to race to another event.
After spending the last 6 years switching majors 8+ times, changing schools 4 times, dealing with an abusive relationship, watching my parents divorce, going through financial issues, being kicked out of my dream school, moving around multiple times a year, and getting married, I FINALLY made it. I finally have a BA in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. I can’t even begin to explain how amazing it feels to finally have this accomplishment and I couldn’t possibly be more proud of how hard I’ve worked to get here. I truly feel that I have earned this degree.
It meant the world to me to have both sides of our family there for me throughout the day. Their love and support throughout these last 6 years of school and the last 9 months of Zack being away has been more than appreciated. I couldn’t be more thankful for each and every one of them and everything that they do for us.
Not having Zack present for this major accomplishment in my life was definitely challenging. There were a few times where I even debated on skipping my graduation altogether because I just didn’t want to do it without him. In my mind, the day was already ruined because he wouldn’t be there. But I went and he was 7,500 miles away on the other side of the world. I wont lie, it sucked. A lot. It’s no secret that I hate being a military spouse and it’s times like these that confirm that this life just isn’t for me. He missed my graduation and I’m about to miss his next promotion. We’re missing out on everything right now. It’s a year full of changes and accomplishments that we’ll never get back and it’s so hard to accept sometimes. But like any other military spouse, I have no choice but to make it work and move on. I know he’s proud of me and he would have been there if he could.
Since he couldn’t be there, I kept him with me by decorating my graduation cap and wearing my USMC Alex & Ani bangle throughout the day. I’m horrible at DIY projects so I’m so thankful that my amazing stepmom decorated my cap for me. She did an awesome job!
Overall, it was an amazing day and I am so excited to move forward with my life, my career, and my education. This fall I plan to start my MBA in Sports Management (the final degree!) and pursue a career in professional sports marketing and public relations. I have a few job positions that I plan to apply for in San Diego, but for now, everything is staying secret until I officially have a job locked in. I’m so ready for Zack to come home and truly start creating the life we want. This is just the beginning!
What have you accomplished recently that you’re proud of?