I cried myself to sleep every night after my oldest daughter graduated and went to college. Then I had a brief respite of four years before five kids graduated in a row.
My friend Lori is going through her eldest graduating this year and it has been an emotional roller coaster for her as well.
“Why didn’t you tell me it was like this?” she asked me.
I told her I hadn’t recovered from the trauma of it myself.
No one ever tells you that part. We go through seasons of just wishing this part was over when the sleepless nights drag on and on. We Moms wish the kiddos would get to the next stage, whether that is walking, talking or just plain growing up.
And then it happens. Senior year rolls around. It flies by. The independence has already heightened by this point. Part time jobs. Volunteering at the soup kitchen, babysitting, being a camp counselor. We’re so proud. We pat them on the back and say, “Great job!” So many accolades the last few years of school. Then senior pictures roll around and we Moms feel as if we have been sucker punched in the gut.
It’s almost as if we want to call it back, “I didn’t mean it! I didn’t really want you to grow up!”
But it’s too late. They are looking ahead to the future with stars in their eyes and we are looking back with tears in ours.
There are all these spiritual mantras about shooting your arrows into the world. When you train a child up in the way he should you, you shouldn’t be afraid to let them go. All of these are true. But, let’s talk about our emotions. Those are real. They don’t just disappear when someone preaches some platitudes.
Three things I want Moms to remember about your kids growing up:
- We worked all these years to attach. Detachment is a hard job. We have to detach in a healthy- go make some decisions kind of way without being a helicopter parent. That’s hard. Like REALLY hard. And even if our child seems as if he isn’t making the decision we want him to, we need to let him decide (I’m talking about selecting majors or getting jobs, not illegal stuff).
- It’s okay to mourn. When our kids leave home, we go through a grieving process. We need to. If you don’t cry, you can’t move on to the joy that comes in the morning. Lori-It’s as if sadness and crying is looked at as a weakness or a problem to fix. If you’re not a crier, find another way to grieve. There’s a time to mourn and a time to cry…that’s where I am. I know there will be a time to dance. But you have to let all those times happen….not squash them.
Don’t skip the crying because it’s hard…work through it and realize it’s only a season. Then the dance will be so much sweeter
- Find friends who have gone through what you are going through. Cling to them. Ask them questions. Don’t try to bear the burden alone. There is wisdom in many counselors. Find some people you consider wise and pick their brains.
When it’s time for your kids to start adulting, prepare for the emotional roller coaster. You’ll be happy and sad at the same time. As Lori said on the podcast this week, when she realized that she was graduating her son, “I did it!!!! OH, WAIT, I did it.”
We Moms spend years attaching, teaching life skills, helping our kids learn how to read, how to fill out an application for a part time job, keeping them safe and the list goes on. We teach them to be independent. Suddenly, they are. They want to make choices without us. We rejoice over this, but with it comes a feeling of being left behind. It’s okay. Perfectly normal. Grieve. It’s okay. It’s just a stage in the journey. That same son/daughter who doesn’t want your opinion on a major will be calling you next week to ask you how to make mashed potatoes. True story. Hang in there Moms. it gets easier. It gets different, but easier. Before you know it, your son or daughter will be coming to you as a friend, a companion. There is a season for everything. This is just one of those seasons.