This spring as thousands of high school seniors gather to celebrate graduation, thousands of mothers sitting in the stands with plastered smiles on their faces as they listen to one stilted speech after another will be secretly thinking, Please dear God, I hope this kid does something with his life.
Mothers are bred to worry. From the moment our children are born, we worry about whether they are eating enough, choosing the right friends, driving the speed limit, studying hard enough, and most importantly, whether they will ever be able to make it out in the world on their own without us yelling from behind a tree far in the distance, “Tie your shoes before you trip on something!”
Then before we know it, our children are donning a cap and gown, dreaming big dreams, and telling us that they will be just fine in the world without us. As we take photos, plan parties, and help them choose a college, we remember our own graduation ceremonies and wonder how we ever made it across the stage in platform shoes without falling in front of the principal, God, and the entire senior class. But we also remember how important it was to us that our mothers supported us during a time when we wanted to spread our wings, fly away, and experience life without anyone telling us what to do, how to think, or which fork to use when eating salad.
This Sunday, my life will come full circle. I will be one of those mothers in the stands who will be trying to camouflage a myriad of emotions behind my commencement program as I remember everything that has led up to this moment. As my son crosses the stage, clutches his diploma, and poses for a photo that will somehow manage to find its way to the bottom of a box in his basement one day, I will contemplate the words of advice I have given him since the day he started kindergarten:
Look both ways before crossing. Stand up to bullies. Dot your “I’s” and cross your “T’s.” Never say never. Follow your heart. Pursue your passions. Hug often. Laugh even more often. Do your homework. Be kind to others. Save your money. Believe in your dreams. Think positive. Love yourself as much as you love others. Never stop learning. Give more than you take. Always do the right thing.
Thankfully, all the above words of advice still apply today as I send him off into a world he so enthusiastically wants to conquer in his own way, in his own time. As much as I know how badly my son wants to be independent, I know there will come a day when my phone will ring and he will be on the other end wondering how long to cook pasta, how to get a stain out of his shirt, whether he should feed a fever, a cold, or himself first. But as I continue to dispense advice without a prescription and worry just as mothers always do, I also know this is a time to reclaim my own life again—a life that I hope includes long-awaited travels, continued happiness, and a George Forman Grill.
Change awaits. I plan to embrace my new path in life just as passionately as my son. I just hope he remembers to tie his shoes first.
By Vicky DeCoster – All Rights Reserved