They said it would fly, these eighteen years, but it’s hard to gauge the true gait of childhood until it’s gained so much momentum you find yourself in the last lap.
This whole year has been one long list of lasts — pinnacles reached and milestones celebrated.
There have been senior pictures and senior dinners, entrance exams and final exams, banquets and awards, meetings and rehearsals, convocation and graduation, parties, celebrations and a cap and gown Sunday service.
We moms of seniors have earned our tired and endured a hundred triggered emotions — from heart-swelling joy to head-wagging exasperation.
This year can leave a mom on edge and on her knees.
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I’ve launched five kids so far through their senior year and into the next chapter.
You would think it gets easier, this releasing kids from home.
But each landmark last has tugged hard at my heart.
Those pictures we culled through and picked for the senior slide show? They don’t begin to unwrap the ordinary beautiful that made up his life and mine these 18 years.
They don’t begin to tell the story of God’s grace for a mom who wanted so much for her kids and knew so little about how to get there.
It’s not just my own son’s graduation that’s making me nostaglic.
It’s watching his whole friend group pose in cap and gown, friends who just a few summers ago were sporting sno cone staches from vacation Bible school and piling onto buses for their first week at away camp.
I watch them stand for pictures together, lanky arms across one other’s shoulders with grins as wide as their dreams.
And I want to tell them — breathe it in. Enjoy this fully.
Because I know something they don’t.
This is ending, I whisper silently. It took 18 full summers to get here and it will never be again. Even when you come home from your colleges and get together, it will be great but it won’t be this.
The momentum, at first hardly detectable, is unmistakeable now.
Breathe it in. Enjoy this fully.
I’m watching these kids step from our lives into their own.
I always imagined being a mom as a destination. I knew from the start that there would be release one day, but it was way down the road and I couldn’t see it because I was up to my eyeballs in mom stuff.
Release is here now and release is hard.
All month I’ve wanted to push pause, to stop here for a while and hold on to it.
We do not know the true value of our moments until they have undergone the test of memory. Like the images the photographer plunges into a golden bath, our sentiments take on color; and only then, after that recoil and that trans-figuration, do we understand their real meaning and enjoy them in all their tranquil splendor. ~ Georges Duhamel
But I did know their value.
I’ve always sensed it — even on the hardest days and in my most impatient moments. I’ve treasured the little hand slipped into mine, a grocery cart full of tow-headed preschoolers, grass worn bare in the backyard from summers of touch football.
There were daily commutes in the car and hard nights up late and endless loads of laundry, but even those were cherished signs of full life with kids in the home.
I tried my best to breathe it in and enjoy it fully, as if that would slow the steady march of days.
In the flurry of graduation activities, I’ve noticed the orange trees in our backyard producing small green oranges where there used to be a profusion of small white blossoms.
Orange blossoms have an undeniable scent. I remember as a child driving through Florida’s rolling hills of orange groves when the orange blossom fragrance was so strong it came right through our car windows.
And yet, as heady as that scent is, no farmer would be content with a grove of orange blossoms.
His labor is meant to produce fruit.
These last 18 years? They have been heady with the sweet fragrance that is childhood.
But there is so much more.
Dear Mom, you know what no one told you about high school graduation?
There is yet great fruit.
These first 18 years have been bud and blossom: a wonder-filled, breathtaking season.
But your work was never meant to produce bud or blossom. All along, God has intended to produce fruit. Fruit only God can bring about.
And so, in this last lap of childhood, we let go. We release the bud and blossom, so tenderly stewarded these 18 years, and we trust the Master Gardener.
There is yet good, good fruit ahead.
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