As a mother of 3 young adult women, I have seen and experienced many conflicting emotions. Each spring, I watch as formal gowns emerge at boutiques as well as the mall. The front of every teen magazine reflects the current year’s trend for prom, invitations arrive in the mail and I am reminded of a bittersweet time. I encounter mothers and fathers daily who are facing this exciting time of celebration, graduation and transition. Often these parents start off with concerns of whether the child is ready for the new level in academia, or responsible enough to get up and go to class. The focus is primarily on the anticipated success or challenge of the child going away to college. In this extremely busy time, it is easy to focus on them and neglect the churning of our own personal emotions.
I personally experienced great surges in pride, joy and accomplishment accompanied by sadness, fear, even loss and grief. No one else was talking about the lump in their throat and tears stinging their eyes as they thought about letting go. I had this overwhelming sense of fear, like the first time I left them with a babysitter alone. Again, there was a silence that surrounded me that was deafening. I maintained control of my emotions until on the last Sunday before leaving the middle child said to me in front of the church, “Don’t worry mommie, you have done a great job. I am ready to go.” A deep loud cry escaped my throat and I let it out, and the tears flowed as if there was no off switch. At first I felt embarrassed, and then parent after parent with wet cheeks approached to say, “me too”. The lesson that I pass on from one extremely proud parent to those of you approaching your own new sense of freedom is CRY!!!
It’s ok to admit that you will miss them even though they still don’t pick up after themselves, that you are fearful for their safety in this big bad world. Talk about the approaching quiet and lack of “have to’s” with your spouse and be purposeful about planning for those times together to build your relationship as more than just mom and dad. And express your grief about the transition of baby growing up and the need of your care changing. And then rejoice, because you have done what you could to prepare them. And now you must trust that the pouring of prayers, lessons, corrections and accolades that you have bestowed upon them will be put to good use. It is now their time to forge their path and for you to redesign yours.
Happy Graduation and Prom parents! You have earned it.