To the Moms of Graduates: “Afraid Yet Filled with Joy”

As we enter the emotion of graduation season, I want to refer back to a little section of Scripture that touched my heart in an unexpected way this Easter. It’s found where the author describes the reaction of the women at the empty tomb:

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples (Matt. 23:5-8, NIV).

“Afraid yet filled with joy.” I’m certain this was not my first time hearing those words. But, for whatever reason, this relatable mix of emotions hit me afresh. It felt like, “Of course. Afraid yet filled with joy. No matter what century it is, women know exactly what it means to experience those two feelings at the same time.”

My next thought (maybe because it’s spring?) was for a very specific group of Moms. A group of Moms who, because I am a high school coach’s wife, are near and dear to my heart. They are the Moms of the graduates. Their specific mix of “afraid yet filled with joy” is something I get the privilege to witness every year because the graduation of your children is one of those times when “afraid yet filled with joy” feels completely accurate.

And so, Moms of graduates, in this time of busyness, reflection, emotion, and ceremony I wanted to share what came to my mind for you on that Easter morning. I hope it brings you comfort and a smile.

Anne Rulo To the Moms of Graduates: "Afraid Yet Filled with Joy"

For the Moms of Graduates

You’ve done well. No matter whether your kid is graduating with honors or barely scraped by, he or she is probably going to be all right. It’s amazing, pretty much all of them figure it out—eventually. Yes, even the squirrely ones.

The whole transition to being co-adults is a little weird. It’s bizarre to not have the same direction or control you’ve had for the past 18 years. But, it also seems like many families make the transition easier than they thought they would. You will find your way forward in this awkward, neat new stage.

That said, the next four to six years will likely be a mix of, “How much do I help?” and, “Oh sheesh, I hope they’re going to be okay.” But, also at some point in those years, most of you eventually take a deep breath and say, “Huh, looks like they’re going to make it.” So many of these kids who sometimes couldn’t get out of bed or turn their homework in on time do become the most incredible, responsible adults.

You’ve got some really neat moments ahead of you. Things like when they get hired for their first “grown-up job”, weekends and summers at home that feel (mostly) like old times, and “I met someone” who turns out to be the one. It kind of feels like your heart and your eyes are trying to focus as this child of yours turns into a grown-up who manages to capture even more of your heart, tenderness, and respect.

And, now for my favorite stuff. I want you to know that I love seeing you again when we each have a few more wrinkles, you hug me in your fancy dress and I say, “That was a beautiful wedding.” It is also one of my very favorite things when I see mini-me’s of that 18-year-old we knew and you tell me your new title is Gigi/Nana/Granny or whatever else he or she has named you. Really, that part is so much fun.

In short, as your kid graduates, I just want you to hear from someone who has two decades of experience watching graduate after graduate grow up, this really is so much more of a beginning than an end. I know you may feel “afraid yet filled with joy.” But, there are so many beautiful things ahead.

Good job Mama of the graduate. You made it.

PS – For the Mamas I’ve loved who did not or do not get the experience above, I’ve not forgotten you. In fact, my heart is especially tender toward you today. I know some of you are still hoping for a turnaround. And, for others, your journey in this way has ended. I know that graduation season can be a tough one as people hope for futures you and your kiddo didn’t get. Please know you are loved and you and your graduate are remembered and prayed for today.

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