So Your Child's about to Graduate?
Last night I cried over a turquoise, felt-tip marker.
You have to know this 17-year-old baby of mine. The one who wears socks that have everything from tacos to moustaches on them. The one who does his homework in block letters because he doesn’t want his writing to look like anyone else’s. The one who does calculus assignments in felt-tip pen because he thinks it looks so classy.
This is the boy who just cost us $300 in college enrollment fees.
And I am going to miss him terribly.
On Sunday night, his youth pastor came over with a referral letter, for Caleb to include in his college scholarship applications. He asked the family to gather in the living room, and he read the hand-crafted and thoughtful letter out loud to us.
Praises and blessings poured over our son.
Celebration for the man we had raised.
On Tuesday night we went to our son’s second-to-last choir concert. There was a 4:00 showing and a 7:00 showing, and my husband thought we should go to both, because it’s almost over.
Almost completed –this raising of a son.
If you’re in this place of releasing your child to adulthood, maybe you would like some company? I walked this road once before when my daughter graduated and now again with my son, so I thought I could share some insights with you.
First, it’s a grieving process to let your kid grow up. It starts when he grows out of his three-month clothes and then hits you head on when you have to place his Josten’s order for cap and gown. It’s okay to be sad when the grief comes. It’s okay to let your child see that he brings you joy and that there will be a huge hole in your home when he is gone.
But it’s also a festivity. Don’t let grief suck the energy out of the celebration.
I went to the bank with my son a few weeks ago, to sign for his first checking account, and I could feel how right it was for him to become a man who cares for his own finances. It’s good to hand over the control of the big stuff.
It is healthy for a child to become an adult, and do you remember how all we hoped for was to give birth to a healthy child?
I thought I was going to bawl my eyes out when the moment came to drive away from my daughter and leave her at college for the first time, but I was shocked to experience an incredible feeling of completion. I had raised a child. That’s no small thing. While my husband gulped hard and swallowed tears in the front seat for the next hour, I was thinking, Yes! I did it! I raised a daughter!
So give yourself permission to sit down and have a good cry every once in a while. You’re going to miss that stinkin’ kid who never would hang his towel on the hook that was two inches from his nose.
But work to verbally and emotionally glory in success, completion, and new life that is coming.
When you find the middle ground, you will help your child find it, too.
Because isn’t life always this mixture of sadness and joy? Modeling how to experience both emotions at the same time can be the powerful exit lesson you give to that child you love.
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