ON GRAD PARTIES AND GRACE


BUT FIRST, A BLESSING

When everything around you is changing,
ending,
beginning,
and unknown,
may you be grounded in hope
and filled with peace.

When you are more frazzled,
raw,
needy,
and anxious
than you wish you would
(and think you should) be,
may you find the wisdom of breath,
the cushion of grace,
and the gentle, soothing truth
of perspective.

When your plate is too full,
your shoulders too burdened,
and your list too long,
may you discover
the gift of community,
the relief of support,
and the miracle of letting go.

And when you are overwhelmed by the
bittersweet
beauty of it all
may you be surrounded by those
who will see,
mark,
remember,
celebrate,
and live it
with you.


HOW TO THROW A GRAD PARTY AND NOT LOSE YOUR MIND

I don’t know what it is about preparing for my children’s grad parties that kicks me into a level of buzzing, aching, vibrating anxiety that probably registers as an unexplained seismic event at the International Space Station, but it does.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. I do know at least some of the reasons why.

For one thing, the timing of a grad party coincides with exactly that moment when I am feeling ALL THE FEELS ALL THE TIME – because my babies are graduating, and there’s so much to be proud of, and a really great chapter is ending, and a completely unknown chapter is beginning, and I’m so excited and sad and happy and tired and full and distracted that it all makes me a bit lot more vulnerable to stress.


Plus, Minnesota grad parties are just a whole confusing production filled with endless unknowns: Will 100 people come? Or 300? (Who knows.) Will people have already eaten at four other grad parties before they get to ours? Will they still be hungry? Will we have enough food? Will we have way too much food? (Yes to all of that.) Will it pour rain during the entire party set-up and for half the actual party, just like it did for Alex’s grad party? (Yes.) Will we have to assemble all four sides of the party tent during a relentless downpour, and nail plastic to the outside of the screen porch to keep the rain out, and make all the guests squeeze into tiny little R-house? (Yep.)


Will it be a lot for an introvert to handle? (Yes.)

But will it also be so very fun and lovely and fabulous and unforgettable? (Yes, more than I can say.) Will an entire village worth of volunteers show up to help? (YES.) Will you feel incredibly loved and cared for by the end of it? (To the bottom of my heart.) And will it be incredibly rich and meaningful to see your entire family and community come together to celebrate and bless your son? (Ohmygoodness, so much yes. No words for this.)

So. I wish grad party planning didn’t cause me stress, but it does, and yet IT’S ALL SO COMPLETELY BEYOND WORTH IT. Because the party itself was amazing. I got to celebrate my son and mark this momentous season for him – and I got to do it surrounded by all my favorite people.

Here are a few things I learned along the way, which you and I may never need to apply to any actual grad parties, but which still probably belong somewhere:

  • It all goes a lot better if I can just stop judging myself for being stressed and instead say kind, encouraging things to myself.
  • It all goes a lot better if I can stop worrying about why other people don’t seem to get as stressed as I do.
  • It all goes a lot better if I can find a healthy balance of embracing my creativity while letting go of my perfectionism.
  • It all goes a lot better if I can pause for some deep breathing, meditation, and naps now and then.
  • It all goes a lot better if I can ask for help, no matter how uncomfortable that makes me at times.
  • It all goes a lot better if I am not making one bit of food. (Believe me.)
  • And it all goes a lot better if I can let myself laugh, cry, breathe, be, and enjoy all the sweet moments along the way.

Because grad parties, barn raisings, and life—these are the things we are meant to do together, friends.

Here’s to what’s next, friends. xxxxoooo

__
Picture credits: Alex Ry

6 Comments

  • Julie

    Oh Jennifer, thank you! It was fun to see where it ended up. Phew. 🙂 Thank you for your kind words!!

     
  • Julie

    Monica – yes and yes and yes! In it with you, girl!

     
  • Julie

    Oh my goodness, Julie – I forgot to reply to this! Yes! This is exactly how I felt. I’m so glad I’m not the only one.

     
  • Jennifer

    For not knowing where to start, you certainly ended up at the perfect place. What a beautiful party. I loved all the pictures you shared of him and the book for everyone to write in.

     
  • Monica

    I’m working on balancing my creativity and letting go of my perfectionism too! So hard, so necessary!!

     
  • Julie Wright

    So interesting to hear your experience. It paralyzed me. If I had not had my friends help me I think I’d still be sitting in a room not knowing where to start. And I love hosting! It was all the other things that go along with my first born leaving the nest that had me stuck. Hoping next time is easier.

     

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