I’m the mom of a high school senior. For the fourth time. My last time.

Being an experienced parent doesn’t lessen the emotions that come from reading a simple letter from the high school listing the end of year graduation activities. A letter that makes you cry like a baby right before a meeting with your professional peers.

I don’t like May as a senior mom. Too many events that prolong the inevitable Graduation Day. That ceremonial finish line where you joyfully release your kid to the future God has for them.

Or that’s how it’s supposed to be.

In reality, it seems like The End. Because you don’t give birth for the purpose of releasing. You give birth to pour your life into a child that’s yours. A person who makes you laugh and smile and cry and at times puts your heart in places you never thought it could be.

Honestly, you have kids so you can love them and so they’ll love you back. You don’t wake up when they reach eighteen saying, “See ya! It’s been fun.”

And when graduation sneaks up, you realize how much changes when that one kid leaves. The family dynamics change. You’re jolted to the reality that your job as parent is changing. It’s a loss that no one prepares you for, and it’s one that fails to ease with each child.

Mom grief is what it is. Grief over the good times that won’t be the same anymore. Sadness over things you wish you could redo. Gratitude for what’s ended up right, and a longing for your family to have those crazy moments just one more day.

Graduation is a rite of passage celebrating who your Baby Girl or Lil’ Man has grown to be. It’s also a passage for you. It’s a heart wrenching place where you feel like a mess as you watch eighteen years of your heart and soul walk out the door only to return in new and good and weird ways all at the same time.

With each Senior, you stand back and watch with awe who they’ve become. You anticipate with hope what’s before them. You celebrate everything unique and special about them and how they are the most amazing person on the whole entire planet. You do this every time when the Pomp and Circumstance begins—with the child who is your first, your middle, your last, and the lost ones in between.

It’s their day.

And it’s your day, too, where you silently stand on the sidelines with mom-grief that no words can describe.

Except for the other moms with wet eyes who look at you and from whom you have to look away because you’ll both sob like the old-lady-idiots you don’t want to be.

So you get most of the snot-dripping crying done privately ahead of time—in random places when you least expect it. Like in your car after opening a letter listing dates between now and graduation.

It’s a good thing. Because by Graduation Day, you’ll (almost) be cried out.

For the complete mama handbook for getting through all of these changes, get Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind and join the Fledge Parent Facebook Forum. 

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