Sunday, June 6, 2010

If You're the Parent of a Graduate...

A year ago today my oldest son graduated from high school. The day I knew would always come had arrived. I didn’t cry at his graduation because relief was the overwhelming emotion: relief that he made it (and made it well); relief that I had been able to be an at-home mom the entire time; relief that we were able to stay in the same house from the time he was in fourth grade; relief that the ups and downs of high school were over….relief.

But then August came and we did the parent-weekend-drop-off-your-kid-at-college routine. Nobody prepared me for that (I went to a state university. My parents weren’t there to see me off, since I lived at home my first two years. I transferred to Madison with zero fanfare). So when my son’s college took the parents through what many of us found to be an excruciatingly sentimental and dramatic weekend of speeches filled metaphorically with mother eagles pushing their young out of their nests, I was just about at my wits end at the final chapel service which ended with a “parent covenant” where we corporately read words on the screen that basically pledged we would “cut the umbilical cord,” “sever the ties that bind,” and officially recognize our children as adults who must depart to find answers to their dreams, go live their lives, spread their wings…..At about this point in the service I wanted to slide the needle off the record, silence the violins, raise my hand and brazenly announce “I’m outa here! Anybody want to join me?” I was a complete and total wreck (attested to by the final breakdown in tears in the hotel room at my husband’s lighthearted joke about how we could soon say “sayonara” and be on our way).

Upon entering the driveway on our return home without our son, I cried at the site of the front porch, where he and I spent hours talking. Weeding my garden that week, tears streamed every time I thought of my son not coming home until at least October break. I shut the door to his bedroom. I cried again when I found a dirty sock of his in the laundry pile.

Thus began the first year of living without my son in the house.

And to think I was actually happy for him! I was, very happy. I just couldn’t muster up happiness for me, not yet. That would take some time and adjustment and some very big comforting from God.

As I think about my friends and other parents who watched their child graduate today, I look back over this past year. Taking my son to college seems like a lifetime ago, and in many ways, it was. He changed and we all grew and fumbled with our new roles. Melancholy still crept in from time to time, but I could come and go from visiting him at college or attending one of his concerts and finally feel joy, not just for him, but for me too.

Today I especially think about what it would have been like to endure this past year without knowing Jesus and being able to be so intimate and close with Him in the initial heartbreak and the ensuing challenges of operating in this new arrangement. I brought everything, and I do mean everything, into my conversations with God. I left nothing out and I asked Him for help constantly. And He provided, just like He has always promised. He never forsook me and I never, not once, felt forsaken. I got through this past year because God got me through this past year, and continues to do so. And as the “getting through” has gotten not only easier, but also deeply rewarding, I give my thanks to God. He truly is a rock. It is my prayer for all of you parents out there facing this new stage of life that you’ll let Him be your rock, too. God bless you and your student in the coming year.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:8

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

“…God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.’” Hebrews 13:5-6

No comments: