What No One Tells Moms About High School Graduation

high school graduation

You could sense the high school graduation coming…starting that first day of school.

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.

I’ve launched five kids so far through their senior year and into the next chapter.

You would think high school graduation 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 nostalgic.

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. 

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.

high school graduation 2

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 amazing.

Heady with the sweet fragrance that is childhood.

But these green oranges remind me there is more.

These first 18 years are bud and blossom.

There is yet great fruit. 

Though my heart would love to push pause right here, it’s only because I haven’t yet seen the fruit that release will bring.

Dear Mom, you know what no one told you about high school graduation? 

That pushing pause here would stop the fruit to come.

All your labor? It was meant to produce great fruit.

If the bud and blossom of childhood has been this breathtaking, I cannot wait to see the fruit.

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Lisa Appelo
Lisa Appelo is a homeschooling mom of seven, former lawyer, and a writer at her blog, True & Faithful. She writes about homeschooling, single parenting, life as a young widow with a big family, and God's amazing grace through it all. She hopes you'll join her at LisaAppelo.com.