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My Third HS Graduation, and I’m Still Not an Expert

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My third son is a high school senior, and he is graduating next week. You would think that by my third HS graduation I would be an expert, and in some ways I am. I know how to knot the tassel onto his cap, I know how to lightly steam the wrinkles out of his gown, and I know where the best seats are in the auditorium.

But those aren’t the really important things. To be perfectly honest, I’m not an expert at all with the really important things. I hope my son reads this because he should know that as calm as his mom looks – I’m really just barely holding it together.

I’m having a hard time accepting that you are a young man fully capable of managing this college life. I still want to help you find a roommate, choose your classes, schedule doctor’s appointments – even though I know that you are capable of doing these things for yourself. I should be happy that you are so capable, and I am, but deep down there is a part of me that’s broken-hearted that my mommy days are over.

Even though I know you don’t need it, sometimes I can’t resist offering to help you. I have convinced myself that my offers of help are my way of saying “I love you and I want to make sure every little thing is perfect for you.” But, lately, it’s become clear that what you are actually hearing is “Mom doesn’t think I can handle this.” For the record, I think you can handle this, you do have this, and I know everything is going to be more than fine.

I’m not an expert at sleeping through the night when you aren’t home. It’s crazy how many scary thoughts can flit through my head in the dark of night. Having sent your two brothers to college already I should be more relaxed, but I’m not. In fact, I might be worse – I know those frontal lobes aren’t fully developed yet and they won’t be until you are graduated from college. All the things that people with fully developed frontal lobes have the judgment not to do will be available in abundance for you to do when you are at college – no wonder I won’t sleep at night. But, I trust you, I know you have a good head on your shoulders, and I know you are grounded in your faith. You have always been comfortable in your skin, and I don’t see that changing at college.

I’m not an expert at saying good-bye. It’s too hard. Plus, I know that it isn’t just that first good-bye that’s hard, it’s every single good-bye of your freshman year. I know I will cry at Freshman drop off day, but I also know I will cry on the way home from Parent’s Weekend, after Thanksgiving break, and when Christmas vacation is over. You will be chomping at the bit to get back to your new fun life, but each time I will have a lump in my throat all over again.

There is one thing I have become an expert at, and that is I know you are going to love college. You will make friends – even friends you like as much as the friends you’ve had for the last seven years. You have been part of a remarkable group of friends. Each one is kind, smart, funny, empathetic. You have been blessed beyond words to have these people to go to dances with, be in theater with, play Ultimate with, go on vacation with, and just hang with. I think you will miss them even more than you miss us, but I also know that anyone who could be part of such a remarkable group of friends once is more than capable of doing it again. I predict you will have a wonderful group of friends in college too.

Also, I’m expert enough to know that I better let your little sister get Snapchat so that way I can get indirect updates on you and college. I can see it now – she’ll be laughing hysterically on the couch, and when I ask what’s so funny, she’ll reply Patrick just Snapchatted me.

It would help me if you called or even texted me once in awhile just to confirm that all is well…but I’ll take a sister Snapchat…I’ll take anything because I will be missing you more than words can describe.


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