This weekend marks two changes in my life that really have nothing to do with me, and everything to do with my kids.
Allie Rose graduates from SUNY Geneseo with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations, with a Minor in Asian Studies and a Minor in Sociology. That’s a mouthful for a woman who was once my little Sweet Pea.
Anthony moves into a new phase of his life with his girlfriend Jolene, a woman who I look forward to calling daughter one day. They are moving into their very first apartment together after moving out of an apartment they shared with two other friends they met while attending College of St. Rose in Albany. They both have secured positions in careers they love. They are in the process of picking out furniture and décor and deciding what to take from their old life as they create a new life together.
I’m so proud of both my kids. They’ve managed to continue a trend I began as a young woman and are helping to change the story of my family lineage.
I began researching my ancestry a few years ago. And from what I saw, both my father’s side and my mother’s side were simple people, not wealthy, not flashy, not famous, not well-educated. They were hard working, doing what they could to take care of their families.
My mother’s side were mainly farmers and carpenters, spanning centuries of migration into the USA from the 1700s to the 1900s. My father’s side lived in the city from the time they migrated over from Italy in the early 1900s. One of my great greats had an ice and coal business down in NYC.
Growing up, my sisters and I were not really encouraged to go to college. My mom and dad had married young, and it worked for them, so we were just expected to follow suit. But I wanted more. I wanted to be a journalist. So I went to the local community college and almost graduated. But then I got married. Fortunately for me, my then-husband supported me when I decided to return to get my degree. I did, and I went on to write for two decades as a journalist, before securing a position as an editor.
When the paper closed, I returned to college and redefined who I was. I am now a support group coordinator and crisis counselor for one of the greatest non-profits in the world – YWCA Mohawk Valley.
My niece Jennifer followed my lead, and went on to graduate into the teaching field, being the first to receive her Masters in our family.
My son went on to attend St. Rose and my daughter went on to Geneseo. My younger sister Jeana, is back in school, also working on her teaching degree. She is still in her 40s, she did not wait as long as I did.
So, collectively, these two generations have hopefully changed the future of our offspring, taking us from struggling financially to make ends meet, to having careers and succeeding in life.
It is bittersweet and yet exciting to see my grown children begin to map out their own journeys, having survived the tumultuous, angst-ridden teen and college years without too much trauma. They are happy, confident, focused and enjoying life without too much stress and worry. They have found partners who support them, encourage them, and are good for them.
Most importantly, they are good people, caring about the world, and others.
And, to top it all off, they love me. What more can I ask for?
These things I hold close for my own ideals – work hard, get an education, be kind, stay close to your siblings, set goals, have dreams, push yourself, BE HAPPY — have been passed on to my children. They work hard, but they play hard, and they love hard. They surround themselves with people who have the same standards they have. They don’t settle.
After this weekend, I can now take a deep breath and exhale, knowing I’ve done my job. I will still worry; I’ll still miss my babies. But knowing they are competent, kind and loving, functioning human beings in a world where there is so much turmoil, helps me ease into my Golden Years and accept this empty nest without regret.
Congratulations to Allie Rose and Antman. You’ve grown up into human beings not just a mother can love. And as you go, remember. . . Life is for living. So live it.