Sharing a Landmark Day

Landmark days—often these are what we mothers remember and hold onto: the first birthday, first steps, starting kindergarten or high school, moving your child into their first dorm room….moments frozen in our minds.

At the beginning, these memories are shared memories: their firsts are our firsts. As they get older—high school, college, and beyond—we mothers become someone to share good news with, sometimes a sounding board, maybe a shoulder to cry on. Then finally, our children’s landmarks become their own.

They find their way, they make their lives—in short they grow up. As mothers, if we’re so lucky, we may still have a glimpse, hear the exciting news, share in the moments and the landmarks.

Last weekend was such a landmark day in our son’s life, his journey. We were invited to attend his “White Coat Ceremony,”the symbolic occasion in the early days of medical school when students receive their first white coat. We traveled out of state and met up with our son, his girlfriend, and our daughter—all of us living in different states. We did what families often do the night before an event: we gathered at a restaurant. We congratulated and toasted, reminisced and talked, with much of the conversation centering on science and medicine—passions close to both my children’s hearts.

My son—a talented writer, who wrote a novel for his college senior thesis and was urged by mentors to seek an MFA—has known since a “job shadow” at 16 that he wanted to be a doctor. This is not an easy road, and he has worked tirelessly to make his dream a reality.

Last month, as he left our home to head out of state for his first day of medical school, he came over and gave me a hug—I’m happy to say he’s a big hugger, my son—and said: “I’ll make you proud, Mom.” He knew my reply before I gave it: “You already have.”

Sunday morning we went together to the beautiful theater where the ceremony took place. My son joined his class of medical students, and we joined the proud families in the audience. We sat and watched as our son along with all the other sons and daughters received their white coats and took the Hippocratic Oath.

Watching my son, now a man, pursue his life goal and passion makes saying goodbye to my daily job of motherhood a lot easier. To attend this ceremony, be a tiny part, is icing on the cake.

My time, my memories, of every step and every landmark as a mother are just that: mine. His time, his memories, as he takes this momentous step, are a continuation of hislife journey. Sitting in that lovely place, watching my son be “cloaked” with his first white coat made me happy beyond words to be a part of my son’s, this wonderful man’s, life and landmark day. 


  1. Ann says:

    *sigh* What a proud moment – a wonderful Landmark Day! I’m glad that you were able to see it!

  2. Liz says:

    I was Ooohing and Aahing throughout this! First, congratulations to him! Second, I find it so incredibly awesome that he hugged you and said he hoped to make you proud! What a good mama you are to raise such caring kids.

  3. Erika Marks says:

    Oh, Julia, what a gift, for BOTH of you–and of course, your entire family. My husband taught anatomy in med school for a while and he has such an appreciation for the commitment and work involved in getting through medical school.

    Warmest congratulations to him–and you all!–on this tremendous accomplishment and all the ones to come!

  4. He sounds like a wonderful guy! What a great tradition to celebrate this important transition. I know you must be very proud and happy, Julia. Congrats to your son…and congrats to the excellent parents who raised him. Getting them raised up to be good people is the most important job in the world.

  5. Oh, my. This post brought tears to my eyes. I can FEEL how proud you are of him, and you should be proud of yourself, Julia, for raising such a fine young man. He wouldn’t be who he is without his supportive parents. I have to say, that building where the ceremony took place also took my breath away. What a lovely post! And what a great early b-day present for you. Happy birthday, friend!

  6. Aww! What a special moment in time for your whole family to acknowledge. I can feel the proud mama heart (and rightly so) throughout your whole description. I also love the angle you took on it—going from *your* landmarks/firsts to sharing *his* landmarks/firsts with him. Alas… the circle of life.


    p.s. Glad to hear hugs from kids are still forthcoming when they become adults. 🙂

  7. Truly a wonderful time for you & your family. Congratulations to everyone, and especially to your son for his courage and dedication.

    A son who isn’t afraid to hug and acknowledge his mom is just the kind of doctor we could use more of. (Ending with a preposition and I don’t care!)

  8. Wow, sounds like you have A LOT to be proud of. I think you had your own landmark day by being able to sit there and watch him receive his white coat.

    I live for those moments when I see my children succeed at something they have worked very hard at.

    Congrats to your son!

  9. Pet says:

    I would be so proud! (My boys are 11 and 8 yet)

  10. Ado says:

    Oh my God Julia!!! What a beautiful ceremony! I got the chills from that photograph (and BTW many doctors become the best novelists – look at The Kite Runner…)

    ON that note have you read Old Tweener’s post on kids leaving for college/
    I thought of you when I read it.

  11. Ann, It was a wonderful day, and I was so happy to be there! And, yes, *sigh*

    Liz, Yes, the biggest congratulations go to my son! Second, I feel like the luckiest mom in the universe to have such a caring and wonderful son!

    Erika, It was a wonderful gift, no question! Unbelievable hard work, no kidding! I could not believe how much he’s accomplished in the first month. Thank you for the congrats!

    Melissa, That’s very kind of you to say we had a role — I can only say that I feel fortunate to have two very motivated, very compassionate kids…. if we had a role, it was to accept them for who they are. (and yes, a WONDERFUL b’day gift to have the whole family together 🙂

    Barb, Thank you; it really felt like the circle of life this weekend…. (I’m trying not to hear The Lion King in my head right now!)… Yes, hugs are still forthcoming; if they’re like my kids then LOTS!!

  12. Beverly, It was a truly wonderful time for all of us; and I appreciate your very very kind words about my son. I think you’re right about him being the kind of doctor we need more of. He’s dedicated, courageous, and caring (and yes is willing to hug his mom even in public!!). p.s. I didn’t even notice the preposition at the end! 🙂

    Hallie, Very very proud. It was such a pleasure to be there an dto know how very hard he worked to get here…. incredible. It’s a great feeling. Thanks for the congrats–I’ll pass them along!

    Pet, Thanks! I’m very proud. And, you are very very lucky to have those boys 8 and 11 — what fun!

    Ado, It was quite a beautiful ceremony and the guest speaker had us all in tears — another story! — it was very very moving! As for the novel, no question he’ll be writing more, where that takes him is another part of his journey! (p.s. I read Old Tweener’s post on kids leaving for college earlier today…. sigh…)

  13. Loved reading this! I always like to hear about my writing/blogging friends’ family and life in general. Congrats to the family!

  14. What an incredible mother he has! You have given him every tool he needs to succeed in life. Congratulations to you both. I feel proud just knowing you through blogging.

  15. Lisa Ahn says:

    Ah, you made me cry! This is such a beautiful story. My kids are 5 and 7 now, and I’m trying to soak up all the moments I can. Every day has its own little landmark.

  16. Nina, Thank you! It was a great day!

    Badluckdetective, What a lovely compliment for me, but he is responsible for his own success! I feel lucky to be a part & to have such supportive blogging friends like you! 🙂 Thank you!

    Lisa, Awww, I’m sorry! Hang on tight for the ride with those two little ones — it goes too fast: don’t blink! And I know what you mean, every day certainly does have its own landmark! You are one wise mom!

  17. What a beautiful experience and insight to share, Julia, thank you! I know mothers are pretty sentimental and proud creatures, but your family certainly does sound very remarkable! 😉 Best wishes to your son in his journey to become a doctor: may he always keep an open mind and heart, and never stop learning.


  18. How wonderful, Julia! Congratulations and best wishes to your son as he follows his dream, for that is, indeed, a gift. And to you, as well, for having a hugging relationship, no matter how old he gets. That’s wonderful.

  19. Erika Robuck says:

    That is the sweetest thing. You must be so proud. I wish him all the best.

  20. Ashlee, We moms are pretty sentimental/proud creatures, for sure. I know my kids are amused sometimes, haha! Thank you for your incredibly kind words; it’s definitely a long haul for my son, but he’s enjoying every single second!

    Karen, Thanks for the congratulations! I agree, it is an amazing gift to know and be able to follow one’s dream. He cannot stop pinching himself! As for the hugging — it’s the best gift I could ask for from either of my kids!

    Erika, Thank you so much for your well wishes! Yes, I’m very proud and happy for him!

  21. j says:

    This is lovely. Would that all our transitions could be so beautiful. Thank you for sharing this one.

  22. j, So glad you enjoyed. It was lovely (yet as you surmised, there were of course the incredibly hard transition parts too, especially for my son. The hard work, the brutal application process) but for this — this tiny sliver, it was indeed a beautiful transition! So happy you read & enjoyed! xo Julia

  23. Beautiful. Just beautiful. Your son has a lot to be proud of, including following his passion rather than letting others influence him away from his true calling. Such an admirable quality. You have a lot to be proud of also because you helped nurture him to become the kind of man who is strong enough to do that.

  24. Jackie, Thank you! I completely agree about my son following his passion and not letting others influence him — I admire him for that as well. It is a marvelous thing to watch and be a part of!

  25. Oh, what a proud Mom you must be! This is a beautiful post!

  26. Thanks for sharing this, Julia. The love for your son shines through in every word. Your son has chosen a noble profession; my Dad was a physician, too, and it sounds like your son will make a great doctor. 🙂

  27. So beautiful, Julia! Congratulations to both you and your son on such an amazing accomplishment. It’s true that it’s his landmark, but you are a huge piece of what made it possible. And he’s lucky to have a mother like you who supports him the way you do (which is clear from each word in this post).

    I got a little teary-eyed reading this because it reminded me of my sister’s graduation ceremony from med school. She is two years older than me, and we are very close, and her finishing med school meant that she’d be moving out of state to start her residency. I bawled so much, you’d think I was her mother! I don’t think my mom even cried as much as I did (and I’m not that big of a crier!).

    These are such special moments, though 🙂

  28. Oh Julia, this made me cry! What a wonderful occasion for you and your family. You must be so proud of him. Not just because he is a doctor (no small fete) but because he followed his dream. I so admire that and clearly you raised him well. Congratulations!

  29. The Mom Pledge, It was a very special and proud moment; I’m glad you enjoyed the post! Thank you so much for your comment and your visit to my blog!

    Mahesh, I’m glad the love shines through — it was a special day for all and an incredible move toward his future for my son. I so appreciate your kind words, especially knowing your dad was a physician. Thank you so much! 🙂

    Natalia, You know exactly how I feel, I’m sure after watching your sister….the commitment it takes and the process. And yes, I cried too. You are so lucky to have such a close relatonship with your sister; I’m sure you miss her a lot! I know that my daughter was very moved and thrilled to be there with her brother (he gave her a t-shirt from his med school and she told me last night she’s worn it everyday). Here’s to wonderful little sisters AND moms. 🙂 (p.s. YOUR mom must be so proud to have TWO such accomplished daughters!)

    Leah, It was an amazing occasion, very very lovely. As you say, the important part is that he is following his dream — what more can we as mothers really hope for? And, to be a small part? It’s absolutely beyond words! Thank you for your kind words!

  30. Sherri says:

    Oh, this is wonderful…such a big step for all of you!

  31. Sherri, It was a wonderful day — and, as you say, a huge step! Thank you so much for your comment and for your visit to my blog!