Dear Senior Mom,
I sympathize with you not wanting to think about your baby graduating from high school. Why do you need to do that right now, don't you still have a month left? But that is why I write. Having two kids in the past two years graduate, I learned a thing or two. I thought I'd share.
First, take some time to process all the emotions. In hindsight, I wish I had written in my journal a little more of what I felt in those sweet days. Know this: while it does effect everyone differently, in case you think you may be one to cry buckets of tears, get you a support system put into place. Call your mom, your sister, or your best friend, and ask them to sit beside you, and if necessary, hold your hand. Your husband will be there, but it's not quite the same, since they're not as emotional as us moms. He would also be a great hand holder, but truth be told, Todd didn't understand why I couldn't stop with the tears. And no disrespect to him for that, dads and moms are just way different.
Here is a little snippet of what I felt last year, when Drew graduated, and we had just picked up his cap and gown., and here is the picture that inspired what I wrote that day.
We picked up his cap and gown today, Drew and I. Truthfully, he could have driven himself to do this, but when I offered to take him, he didn't balk at the idea. He made me laugh really hard when he tried it on, but I didn't cry. Not yet. I didn't ask to take his picture, because I'm not ready for that. He doesn't talk much, so much of our drive consisted of me talking at him.
When I told him I loved him, and that I was really proud of him, that's when the tears came, but I hid them. I encouraged him to keep being the good example to others he is, and to not let any ungodly friends lead him astray. I pray that over him every single day of his life, and though I know the Lord will never leave or forsake him, Drew could certainly stray from the Lord. I pray that is never so.
Three and a half more days, and his high school career will be a thing of the past, and though I am so excited for him and his bright future, I know how much change this next year will bring, and he's staying home and going to school. Graham never left either, but so much has been different in that year since he graduated.
This phase of letting go is not for the faint of heart, so if you see me out and about and crying during the next three weeks, don't mind me. My heart is so happy, but I know I will be so overwhelmed with all the emotions. I'll be okay, I know. You don't have to try and comfort me with words, because I know things will be alright. It's just that I keep thinking of how nineteen years of my life flew right by, and I miss the days of having four young boys.
Those boys were and will forever be the beat of my heart, and I poured everything I had into them, and still do now, or try to, at least. So instead of words, maybe just offer me a shoulder to cry on, a listening and sympathetic ear, or maybe a hug. That would be the one I would most appreciate, most likely. Don't take this advice and use it just for me!
If you know any moms with a kid graduating, even if it is a preschool, elementary, or middle school graduation, treat them the same way, knowing that they probably feel these exact same emotions, and that they blinked, and their kid was half grown. We may look okay and happy on the outside, but on the inside, we are one millisecond away from reducing to a puddle of tears.
On a much lighter note, secondly, get you some waterproof mascara and the good little pack of tissue, maybe even the ones with lotion. I promise you, you will never regret either purchase. I stopped wearing mascara on my bottom eyelashes ages ago, because I so frequently cry. It sucks being a girl, sometimes, but the tears are also part of this whole thing we call life and parenting, and they're not always sad tears. In fact, usually I cry out of overwhelming love for Jesus, or a family member, or a friend.
Tears are tears, though, and you'd be shocked at when a moment will just about knock you down with a flood of emotion. This happened to me during church, multiple times when I was singing on the praise team and held a microphone in my hand even! It happened when I saw the cap and gown, when I looked back on pictures of years gone by as I pulled together a slide show, and the morning of the graduation, when I just could not believe that one of my "babies" was this old, or even just when I was talking to someone about the graduation ceremony or what he was doing after high school. Consider yourself forewarned, on this topic or frequent and unexpected crying.
Third, don't stress about the graduation party. We have three dogs in the house, and my house was nowhere near as clean last year as it was the year before when Graham graduated, and the tornadoes named Lisa, Debi, Trish, and Geraldine came into my house and started vacuuming and dusting and taking charge. (And I say that with the biggest love in my heart for all of them, because I needed that, and didn't even know it at the time.) You know it's bad when you catch your husband upstairs hiding from them all. (Not even kidding.) Schedule a gathering, or a reception that is informal, and people can freely come and go. We did snacks and desserts and a cake, and we had paper products, balloons, a banner and cups for the guests to take home. It was casual and sweet. And it helps when your sisters plan the entire thing. Praise God for a sweet mom and sisters! Or schedule a barbecue and grill burgers. We did the reception thing, at the recommendation of one of my sisters, and I am so glad she was there to give me advice, since she had been through it three times with her own kids.
Lastly, don't worry about taking all the pictures. Hand off the camera or your phone to someone you love, and trust them with it. Put these things down and cherish the moments. Graduation has been one of the best days of my life, now twice, and every single memory I have I hold dear. I don't even think I took pictures of Drew's reception last year, unless it was before the guests arrived. I simply sat back and walked around, visited, and enjoyed all the moments. The day flies by, so I promise, you'll never regret this decision either. The ones we did take were of him with family members before the ceremony and with friends outside afterward. Get those, definitely get them, and then print them out and put them in a book, especially if they're going away in the fall. If you do that, you might as well print one for yourself to keep, and cry into later. (I'm laughing.)
I'll leave you with this picture above of Graham, two years ago. See how blurry it is? My sister Lisa took this, and it's blurry because of how fast he was walking. How significant this picture has become, to show me how quickly the years go by. Cherish them. Relish in them. Cry, laugh, hug, and talk. You'll never get another day quite like this one.
An always emotional and sympathetic crier of a mom.
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