My oldest son graduated from college six days ago and it has started me thinking about the emotional roller coaster ride I’ve been on this last month. Perhaps a pinball machine is a better option to describe my sensitive state lately as I quickly move from emotion to emotion. Life’s milestones, especially when they belong to your children, tend to have a way of putting parents in that ugly cry-face, choked-up mode.
After the pomp and circumstance had died down a bit and I was driving back home, I did some math in my head in the milestone department. Let’s see, five children times an average of 10 milestones each and I’ve got quite a ways to go with those unattractive, sob-faces.
Though, in all seriousness, my pride will always win over the tears. I often think the pride we feel as parents is what fuels our joyful, sometimes bumpy coaster rides as we navigate through all of these wonderful junctures in our children’s lives. The satisfaction we feel from our children’s accomplishments won’t slow the train down, but it will most definitely lesson the sting.
Most parents greatly want to delay the inevitable “last moments” but we can’t. It is easy to be tormented by the melody our hearts utter: “How can time go by this fast?” We do our best as parents to avoid these innuendos. I believe a secret to “surviving” the big moments in our children’s lives is to give it our best shot of being fully present with them in these crossroads, and look forward to the future through their lens, not backwards through the lens of our lives.
Over the course of graduation weekend, my mind was crowded with thoughts of what I really wanted to say to my son on this remarkable day. He had just crammed a whole lot of experience into a mere four years, and was much wiser than when he started. I believe it’s safe to say there is an enormous contrast between the ages of 18 and 22. It is every parent’s wish their college student will graduate knowing a bit more than they did in high school, and use this wisdom to better traverse through this thing called life.
The following is some of what my intensely sentimental and proud mind came up to share with my son:
Lucas, the pride and love we feel for you as you graduate from college is at a depth of which is unfathomable. It is extremely difficult to put love and pride in to words. You will understand this one day. The ride thus far has been exciting but doesn’t end here. The finish line is just a myth. The passage of time won’t always be easy, but we will always stand behind you, and beside you when you ask.
On this day, revel in all your accomplishments. It is easy for us to look back on regrets and how we could’ve done something differently. Do not do this. Learn from the past, keep moving forward, and bask in the brightness of your future. You have earned this right. You are in the driver’s seat and have all the control to determine the life you have imagined. There will be forks in the road you will know which to choose, and ones that will be harder to make.
Remember God will always guide you, but you must remain in constant communication with Him. Real and lasting happiness has nothing to do with material possessions but is a result of living your values, even when it is tough. Continue to be passionate about what you believe in.
Have the courage to get out of your comfort zone, even when it is uncomfortable. It is on the road less traveled where your character will be truly tested. Seek the truth, speak the truth, and stand for the under-dog. Never stray from your amazing work ethic. It is a true example of what can come out of adversity.
Be kind. Always be humble. Laugh often.
Life goes by fast, so slow down enough to see those small pieces of glittering mica on the long stretch of your trail. Anything worth having in your life like friendships will need nurturing. Remember this.
Finally, be proud of yourself. You’ve earned this right. And when you think you can’t hear my cheers and feel my heart, look over your shoulder -- home base is just beyond it.