This post: Things a Mom’s Heart Feels When Her Child Graduates
Written by: Marybeth Bock
With the school year coming to a close, so many parents are experiencing the bittersweet joy of their child’s high school senior year and the final celebration after so many years of preparation… their graduation ceremony.
In what seems like a blink, our children are readying to walk across the stage in a crowded auditorium stepping away from a life they’ve known for years and venturing off on a new and exciting journey.
Nothing prepares our hearts for the flood of emotion that consumes us.
As a mom who’s been there and understands the tidal wave of emotion you’ll likely feel when you see your child looking all grown up in their cap and gown standing amongst their classmates as they proudly accept their diploma, here are things I felt when my child graduated… things I think every mom’s heart feels when her child graduates.
10 Things a Mom’s Heart Feels When Her Child Graduates
It doesn’t matter if your child barely passed some of their classes on a wing and a prayer (we’re looking at you, Chemistry!) or if they’re the class valedictorian, you’ll swell with pride when their name is called and they’re handed that diploma. It’s such a huge milestone in our kids’ lives… one we envisioned when we first held them in our arms and one that, somehow, arrived all too quickly. No matter how well you try to prepare yourself emotionally for it, the pride you feel when that day dawns is hard to contain.
We all know that the high school years are a slog. The reality is that our kids work so much harder than we had to when we were in high school. Their classes are more advanced, and we’re acutely aware that the academic competition to “be the best” is intense. And it’s not just their classes that create more stress for them – it’s everything.
The push to be involved in sports and clubs and community service can be overwhelming. And, let’s not forget how exhausting the social scene can be for them. We watched them struggle through it all, we watched them endure, we watched them grow and mature and learn and fight to get to the finish – and for us, now that they’re here, it’s a massive exhale of relief.
A Sense of Sadness
In so many ways, the end of high school marks the end of our child’s childhood – a beautiful and precious era gone by. Suddenly, it hits us. Our “baby” is moving on and crossing over into the real world of adulting. Sure, we see an amazing and capable grown-up-looking graduate standing before us, but in our eyes, we’ll always feel their tiny hand in ours, their smiling face with a front tooth missing and their childlike giggles that made our heart soar. Moms who walked in our shoes before us warned us how fast it would go by, but we never envisioned it would go by this fast. Our hearts simply aren’t ready…
A Hint of Regret
With the turn of this page in our child’s life, we can’t help but look back and think that perhaps we could have done some things differently or maybe even better. Did we push them too hard or maybe not hard enough? Did we prepare them well enough to venture into this world on their own? Did we teach them the important life lessons that will carry them through the good times, bad times, and all the times in between? Second-guessing ourselves is a normal part of motherhood, mamas… we need to grant ourselves plenty of grace when regret creeps into our hearts.
Oh… the joy we feel watching our kids walk across the stage with the sparkle in their eyes and their hearts filled with hope and wonder for their future. Seeing them celebrate, laugh, and enjoy memorable time with friends and classmates they’ve known for years brings out all the mama feels, because, in many ways, their friends are our babies, too. These are the moments in motherhood when we wish we could bottle up those big hugs, genuine smiles and heartfelt laughter, so we always remember this precious time in our kids’ lives.
Anxiety… What’s to Come
Amidst all the feelings of happiness and excitement and pure joy, a little anxiety always has a way of creeping in… what to expect next. Maybe it’s college, a new position, the military, or a gap year. Whatever your child’s plan is, it’s unfamiliar territory. And with that comes change and uncertainty and anxious feelings on both their part and yours.
You can’t help but wonder, will they be homesick? Will they manage okay without me? Will they be strong enough, mature enough, and adult enough to make good decisions and navigate their way through this next journey? And, if this happens to be your first child venturing off to college… How will I possibly adjust to life without my baby? How will my life change? Motherhood has defined me… what’s next for me? Nearly every mom feels this.
Don’t feel bad if you’re watching your beloved child celebrate their considerable success while you’re feeling some level of doubt about where they’re headed. Did they make a good decision about the path they’ve chosen? Should they really be going to school so far away? Was it a mistake for them to start a trade apprenticeship? Should they have taken a gap year? Are they ready for all this? Having doubt is normal. But know that in the end, it will all be okay. You taught them well, mom. They’re ready.
Hope for Their Future
As parents, we spend the better part of our children’s lives hoping and praying that they’ll not only graduate one day, but that they’ll find happiness and success on their journey.
Now is the time to look at your child and all their classmates and see the hope and promise of their future. No doubt, today’s graduates will one day be finding solutions for our world’s problems and will surprise us with their ingenuity and creativity. This is their time to dream big!
When they step onto that stage to accept their diploma, a flood of gratitude so often consumes us… all the people who helped bring this moment to fruition and guide our child along the way. From selfless and caring teachers who nurtured their potential and the coaches who always seemed to go out of their way to the bosses who took them under their wing and extended family who showed unrelenting support, so many people to thank. So much to be grateful for. It surely takes a village to raise our children.
So Much Love
Of all the things a mom’s heart feels when her child graduates, it’s pure love. Your mom heart will overflow with love for your child because you know the depth of your child’s long journey. You’ve seen the heartache, struggles and tears, the triumphs, the wins and the hurdles they had to overcome. You felt every emotion they felt along the way (almost as if it was happening to you), and you know how hard they fought to get to where they are today. Give yourself the freedom to feel this intense love and shed those tears of joy and pride, mama, and know that all those amazing feelings continue to grow as your child matures and makes their way in this world.
The BEST is yet to come…
Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor, and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing – as long as iced coffee is involved. Her work can be found on numerous websites and in two books. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.