Pomp & circumstances: Are graduations just to make me cry; or reminder of my all-important job?

Photo credit: Ruth Haesemeyer/facebook.com/allalightphotography

 The children’s day out program my oldest son attends gave a little graduation ceremony for his class this month.

Just to make me cry.

Why else would you call them to stage one at a time to give them a diploma they cared nothing about and a bag of M&Ms they cared everything about?

What other reason could there be to dress 4- and 5-year-olds in adorable, oversized caps and gowns? Why else would you call them to the stage one at a time to give them a diploma they cared nothing about and a bag of M&Ms they cared everything about? Why else would you remind parents over and over this is just a foreshadowing of the day they graduate from high school before leaving your home, more or less forever?

Heartless. Just heartless.

I could write another article entirely about preschool, kindergarten, elementary- and middle-school graduations as they relate to our participation-trophy society. But I’ll leave that to another pen for now and focus on the positive.

A moment to remember I am working myself out of a job … and to ponder what I want to do while I still have it.

That little ceremony gave me a gift: a moment of reflection in the middle of the busyness of parenthood. A moment to remember the little fellow proudly displaying his cap and gown and M&Ms would soon be wearing another cap and gown and holding a high school diploma. A moment to remember I am working myself out of a job … and to ponder what I want to do while I still have it.

Some of those goals have to do with education. I do want him to get a good one.  But I also want him to learn so much more than the subjects school will cover. I want him to learn of God, to learn how to find his place in the world, to learn how to truly (and therefore, sacrificially) love his fellow man.

I thought of that moment a couple weeks later, at another graduation ceremony, this time one for one of our favorite babysitters who is completing high school. During the program, one of the other graduates’ moms had a moment to speak to her son on stage.

She thanked him for making her a mom. She talked about how, as his parents, she and her husband had sought to obey God by teaching their son about Him. How they had followed His leading in preparing their son with the knowledge and tools he would need for his life.

‘We’ve done our job. Now it’s your turn.’

“We’ve done our job,” she said. “Now it’s your turn.”

There I was, crying again.

The whole of parenthood is in those words. You do your job. Then you let go.

I so deeply hope to, one day, be able to look at each of my children in turn and know that they are prepared for the world. That they are men (and a woman) of God, with joy and love in their hearts, expectation in their eyes. To know my husband and I have done all we could to prepare them for life.

And then, without bitterness or grasping, to confidently say, “now it’s your turn.”