Tuesday, April 30, 2019

An Open Letter to My Graduate

My Dear Senior,

You are getting ready to graduate and leave high school behind.  Life as you know it is about to change.  For 13 years, you have been getting up in the morning (okay, I have been forcing you to get up in the morning) and heading off to school with your backpack and lunch (except on the days when you forgot your lunch, and I drove it up to school for you).  Then you’d come home, grab a snack, FaceTime your friends who were with you at school all day, and at some point start on your homework. 

And now we are picking out bedding and a mini-fridge for the new place you’ll come home to every day after class.  No one will be there to ask you if you have homework.  And (you’ll love this part) no one will be there to remind you that even though you hate science, it is something you need in your life, and you need to apply yourself.  You’ll have a newfound freedom that you never had at home, but you’ll also have the responsibility that comes with living without your family. (Like when you can’t find something, I will not be there to magically know where it is… you are definitely going to miss that.)

You ask why I cry when we talk about graduation.  You ask if it’s because I’m sad you are going off to college.  There is definitely a part of me that is sad you will not be living under my roof anymore, that there will be an empty seat at family dinners, and that your room will stay perpetually clean because you won’t be here to mess it up.  There’s a part in every Mother’s heart that does not want to let go.

And some of the tears are sadness because as you graduate, I – in a way – graduate too.  You are saying goodbye to your high school, and I am as well.  Think about it -- everything you’ve been involved in, I have been involved in as well, and I have gotten to spend time with my parent friends as we volunteered countless hours, went to football games and pep rallies, and cheered our kids on together.  So, just as you are sad to leave your friends, I get sad too, to leave the community I have come to love over the past 4 years.

But mainly the tears are gratitude.  I’m grateful for the time we’ve had with you.  I’m grateful you have grown up into a responsible human being who will, for the most part, make good decisions when you go off to college.  You have found your passion, and you figured out what you want to be when you grow up, and I got to watch all that happen right before my eyes.

I remember when we sold our last house after being there 12 years.  I was excited to move into our new “dream” house.  But the day I had to close the door on the old house for the last time – wow, that was a hard day.  Not because I wanted to stay but because we’d lived so many moments inside those four walls. So many cherished memories.  And it was hard to say goodbye. I knew a piece of my heart would always be there.  And it’s the same with you graduating.  We are so proud of you and realize – truly – the best years of your life are still to come.  But I have so many cherished memories with you, especially during these past 4 years, and, even though great things are waiting for you, it’s hard to close the door on those moments for the last time.

So for now, let me cry. I know it’s embarrassing, but I think you get it.  Everything you know is about to change, and, at some level, that’s a little scary, right?  For me too.  I don’t know how life will be without you here every day, but we’ll figure it out together. 

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Be adventurous. Try new things and make great life-long friends.  Work hard and ask hard questions.  Occasionally eat some vegetables, and please get enough sleep. 

I will be cheering you on, ever grateful for who you are and who you will become.

Mom, your biggest fan
(and yes, I am crying)

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