A woman with a new-born walked by me, in the store, the other day and I immediately flashed back 18 years. It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago when I was carrying you in my arms. And I can’t believe I sound like my mother as I remember her saying the very same thing about her own children.
Tomorrow you graduate from high school. You are a grown, young man. You are about to leave the familiar, comfortable and safe surroundings of home and go out into the world and shape your own life. Mixed emotions. I can’t be more excited for you and proud of your accomplishments. I can’t be more terrified of sending you off to college and into the world. Where did the time go? Did I teach you all the skills you’ll need to navigate what you are about to experience? Did I pass on enough wisdom? Did you listen? Did I love you enough, care for you enough, make you feel secure enough? Are you ready; am I?
When you become a parent, your life does a complete paradigm shift from being completely self-absorbed to becoming all about teaching someone else to become an independent human being. That’s it. It’s all about doing for and giving to someone else. Everything you do is about providing for your child(ren). Teaching them, loving them, providing for them, caring for them. Parenting is pretty selfless undertaking. But, in some monumental ways, the paradigm shift gave me some gifts and taught me a few things, as well.
It’s obvious that parenthood makes us care givers when we have children, but what surprised me the most about becoming a parent is what you did for me, gave to me, how you changed the way I saw the world. When I became a parent, I learned the gift of knowing how important it is to have something in this life, someone, important enough to walk through fire for. Having a child brought me to understand the significance of how the life cycle is intended to work and why the bonds of parent and child are strong enough to never break, but pliable enough to stretch and allow for change. You are the one who first gave me the gift. And although that gift wasn’t minimized when your sister came into our lives, you are the one who first opened the door to the new existence.
Life’s events threw us some compelling curves. Public school, dyslexia, homeschooling, divorce. Even at the youngest ages you navigated them with great strength and sensitivity. Beyond being your mother, I admire the person you are and the character you possess. I hope, in time and as you gain strength from living in new experiences, you will recognize and fully appreciate these qualities you own. I want you to know how much I love you, how proud I am of the wonderfully compassionate young man who you have become, and how much faith I have in you and your ability to succeed in building a fulfilling life. As you graduate and move into your future, (Grandma was right; you never stop worrying about your children, no matter how old they are.) I also want you to know that I will always be here. There will always be a soft place for you to land, a place to call home, if you need it.