It’s one of those milestones you know is coming. Heck, as parents, we adventure our way through 13 years of encouraging our children as students, always keeping an eye on the prize of the diploma; and yet, when our child’s graduation day has come, we still wonder how in the world it got here so very quickly.
Wasn’t it just a few years ago I stood in front of the elementary school with our oldest son, choking back a tear as he shared, no he wasn’t a little scared, but maybe a lot scared? Didn’t he just cross the blacktop and settle into his new routine of switching classes in middle school? Hadn’t we just completed those 50 hours of drive time? Wasn’t he just taking his first steps; stomping and demanding to be called “Robert” instead of Bobby because Robert starts with an R just like Winnie the Pooh’s friend Rabbit; getting his first base hit, turning his first double play; chasing down his first steer, catching his first heifer, raising his first calf; pulling up the drive after his first day of work; and returning home from his last day of high school?
As we prepare for our oldest son’s graduation, many thoughts have passed through my mind – many memories for sure, but also many reflections. Sure there are several times looking back I wish I would have said or done things differently, but honestly, these have been the best years of our lives. We have grown as a couple and into a family I never could have imagined, not even in my wildest dreams. It seems to have all happened so very quickly, as here we are at the precipice of a whole new beginning.
I have pondered what it is I want to say to our son on his graduation day. What lasting nugget of wisdom, can I possibly give him on this, one of the biggest days of his life? While it’s not an exhaustive list, these are some of the things which have been laid upon my heart this week:
- Days are long, but the years are short – make them both count. There have been so many times I have thought, “We can do that later.” Later isn’t promised. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Your next breath may be your very last, so please don’t spend your life living for tomorrow, promising yourself and those you care about that you’ll get to the important stuff later. Those things which will bring you all joy should be embraced often. Live each day as if it were your last.
- Treat others kindly, and remember to do the same to yourself. Yes, be kind to yourself. There are times we can be our own worst enemy. Don’t do that to yourself. Be your own encourager.
- Look to your maker daily. Realize what a treasure He created you to be – dream and then go live! The biggest adventure you can take in life is to simply live the life of your dreams. This won’t always be easy, but I can promise you, it will absolutely be worth it!
Son, you have accomplished so much in these very short years, and we could not be more thrilled for you or proud of you. You’ve worked hard and played hard. You’ve grown from an ornery boy to a fine young man right before our very eyes. You have brought us great joy, laughter, love and even my share of tears for a variety of reasons, but the one thing that makes us most proud is who you are – the person that makes you uniquely you.
I love to watch you interact with other people. It’s clear you genuinely care about those around you regardless of their age, position or ability to do anything for you at all. You invest in your siblings and you realize that young children are looking up to you, always watching, always learning. You look to the future and consider the path before you. You seek the wisdom of those who have gone before you, but you follow your heart as you trudge on. As your mother, this can be both quite satisfying and quite frightening all at the same time. Through it all, you keep the main thing the main thing – investing in yourself and in the relationships which bring you closer to God and keep you focused on His path for you.
As your graduation day draws near, there is a whirlwind of emotions running through me. I cannot promise a tear or two won’t fall, but know this, my son, these are tears of joy. They are the accumulation of your entire lifetime of ups and downs, of skinned knees and high fives, of frustration in the cattle lot and hugs in celebration of goals attained and dreams realized. These are the moments I have lived for, the moments you have looked for me. Our lives are about to change in ways we cannot yet imagine, but I can promise you this: We will always be right here for you and you can always find home in us.