A Letter to my Son — Graduation

Photo of a person (my son) in a graduation cap and gown as taken through a fence

Dear Son,

Last night was your high school graduation.

We made it.

While I am always aware that the obstacles you and we have overcome may pale in comparison with some, it has not been an easy 6 years of secondary school. Punctuated with a semi-colon by the pandemic, with the pick-up not ever quite right, followed subsequently by an incredibly academically challenging year and this year, which was both academically and personally challenging in different ways (including our family’s gradual transition), it has been a lot.

It has particularly been a lot for a mother-son duo that tends towards harsh self-critique, perfectionism, and comparing ourselves to those around us (usually finding ourselves on the short end of the stick compared to someone in some context).

I want you to know how much I love you and how much I value you. I know that you know, but I can never say it enough.

When I couldn’t sleep last night, my mind kept returning to this thought: they say that when you have a child, it is (they are) your heart (or at least a big part of it) walking separately from your body (okay, this is probably a less poetic version than what they actually say, but it’s the best I can do on very little sleep). I felt that way yesterday when I watched you cross the stage.

There you were, suddenly grown. It seemed like yesterday that you entered this world. I blinked and you are a young man, a high school graduate, someone who has so much character, brilliance, and agency, someone I admire and who sometimes frustrates me, but much more often reminds me to be compassionate to myself and makes me smile or laugh.

We’re entering this new phase of life. I know you’ll stay close, but you’ll also have much more independence as you move forward in your adult life.

I don’t know how to mother you through this phase of life. Even though I’ve been through this part with your older sisters, because I didn’t raise them as babies, it somehow seems different. I mean, of course, it’s different. You each are different people with different life experiences and different paths forward. I suppose that even in this difference (or maybe because of it), I felt and feel unsure at this point. There have been a lot of moments of uncertainty in my mothering since your sisters became adults, times when I’ve wondered how to be a better mother and worried that I haven’t been enough.

So, I worry now.

We are the same in that we always want to do our best, in everything we do, but especially when things are important to us, and being a mom is the most important thing to me.

You said to your father and me the other day that you’re worried too, that life will not get better, that after 6 hard years of secondary school, college will not bring the friends and experiences you hope for. We tried to reassure you, sharing from our own experiences and you said that you trusted us, knew that we were probably right, and yet it was hard to truly believe because you haven’t lived these things yet.

Same. I know in my heart that you are going to be great. You were great the day you were born. I trust you. And, in spite of everything, I trust myself, at least insofar as your mother, because I know you and I see you. While I worry about the world continuing not to see you, I hold hope that being seen and held by even a few is not insignificant.

While the path forward is not clear, it is one we will navigate both separately and together. I am gingerly embracing this. And I am hoping for many more family car rides and foodie adventures as you journey forward.

I love you.


One thought on “A Letter to my Son — Graduation

  1. Begins. Your words and feelings are beautiful. I can read this now because one of my beautiful grandgirl is a junior. But next year, I won’t. It is hard to see how fast time has gone. But Nate will be fine because of his parents. Take care. Enjoy what Nate becomes.

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