Mom’s Commencement: Now What?

By Ann Shayne

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29 Comments
  • Cindys’s shop is my favorite (semi) LYS!

  • Stop it right now! I have 3 more weeks of extracting a high schooler out of bed with sheer shrillness, and then it’s venerable-relative wrangling time at Casa Kay. Emojis and even words fail me. Please send me another one.

    • Another what, Kay? Another kid to wrangle through preschool-to-high-school? I doubt that’s what you meant. But… inquiring minds want to know…

      • No, I don’t really mean that but I miss the little guys.

  • Cindy’s shop is the best!

  • Teary at reading this! Also *thanks* for noticing I ironed my kids gown! Was trying to make up for all the years of not ironing, all at once! (PS wish I had seen you there)

    • When it counted, you ironed.

  • Oh, crap. I have one more year to go and have been fretting about my empty nest for at least a year. Not because I don’t have things to do but because I will miss her so. Get me a tissue.

  • Oh Ann, there you go again, summing it all up perfectly. Thanks.

  • Gah! You made me cry! Thank you so much for the shout out! It is so very rewarding when the knuckleheads you saw at dinner for years actually turn out to be fine, upstanding – and yes, as their mother I like to think – extraordinary adults. You are on the verge of the same feeling – just wait! It is a great feeling!

  • Two years ago we celebrated our only child / dear daughters graduation from HS and move to college. I was both bereft and jubilant – while I work full time and still do – the hole was palpable. I chose to make the first year of our empty nest my “year of retreats” – I signed up for everything that had previously conflicted with school events and breaks. I learned a lot about my craft and distracted myself. Two years later my DD is continuing to make us proud with her drive toward adulthood. I’m finding new ways to be her mom and her always-in-the-background biggest fan. It really does continue to get better. Hugs to all the parents on that brink!

  • I worked as a teacher for 40-ish years with three months of per each of two babies. I never thought I would be a sad empty nester because I was always so excited for them at each stage of their journeys. Graduation and going off to college was exciting too, and was seeing them launch into they’re after college life. So I was not prepared for the feeling that my most important life’s work was over and that all other work was basically time-filling. It took me a year to get over it. (I am not lacking in things to do-i have several hobbies and many interests besides teaching. None of it seemed Important.)

  • Congratulations to Cindy – and to all the parents of new-minted grads! That empty nest is indeed bittersweet and fairly disorienting, but I tell myself it’s a little like the break between jobs: Grandchildren could arrive anytime. (Maybe. No presh, kids!)

  • Pomp and Circumstance always makes me cry. However, as a veteran of that era, let me remind you that the summer before college has it’s own set of challenges. The pre-freshman job is to separate from family and gain an independent sense of self which will make it easier to leave home and hearth. They do this by focusing on and continually reminding you of all your faults and irritating habits. By the week before they leave, your only thought will be “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!” Then you will get to spend $200 at a crazy busy Target filled with other families, despite being a very organized person and thinking you have provided everything they need for a small dorm room. Then you will try not to cry as you leave them to their new life. Without you.

    • This is spot on!!!! I love my kids but, whew, that last summer…..

  • I can just picture Clif’s graduation. Everyone will turn and stare at the knitter in the cute dress, towering platforms, and Marge Simpson wig, wondering who she is. Clif will turn fluorescent red and melt into a puddle on the floor.

    P.S.: The Leif Cowl is not flat enough. You should have let Kermit press it for you.

  • The shoes those girls wear! And they’re already taking them off on the way back to the car at the end of the ceremony.

  • My own high school graduation was decidedly unsentimental. By my Sr. year, I was at my third high school, a shy introvert who did not know a soul. I wore pants to my prom and attended with a gal pal from another high school (rebellious introvert, it seems).

    My son’s school years were the opposite. Small town, all one district … the kids he started with were the same kids he graduated with. And I was very active, worked as an artist-in-residence and knew everyone. I suppose his school years were mine in more than the usual way, and I am deeply sentimental about them.

    Beautiful piece, Ann. Brings up so many sweet memories. XO

  • I just have to say how much I enjoyed your Comparative Gown Prepping image 🙂

  • Very eloquent! You’ve captured the yin and yang of these transitions beautifully!

  • LOL! I knew that one gown in the photo was pulled out of the bag right without ironing! Thank goodness my daughter’s school doesn’t require cap and gown! Just a white dress of choice which was steamed weeks ago by the kind dress designer who altered her prom dress. Otherwise there would have been a danger of an iron print on that glorious polyester.

  • As a mom deep in the heart of the preschool to early elementary school transition, it is lovely to hear of all of us graduating.

    And so wonderful to hear of Justin! Cindys store is my beloved local yarn store. She has created such a warm and welcoming place, where my kids, two of whom are knitters, feel at home.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • I ❤️ this. Mine are out of college now and doing well, but I miss the intense fullness of those days. Some moms can’t wait to ditch the minivan, but the decade-plus I drove mine contained many of the happiest moments of my life.

  • Good to be planning mom-graduation, for sure. I planned, planned, planned youngest kiddo’s transition to college across the country, just like a sergeant. I was blindsided by the empty nest after. Whoops!

  • My son graduated from high school eleven years ago. I made several very good friends of other band moms. We were all so grateful we didn’t have to go to any more band events. We loved them, but still..

  • I can’t tell you how much I love this reframing from “empty nest” to Mom Commencement! What an interesting and refreshing way to think about it. It also sounds as if it was a lovely day, in the eternal way of life’s Big Moments.

  • https://motherwellmag.com/2017/05/30/night-walks-with-my-teens-who-are-about-to-leave-me/

    Thought of you when I read this. My Elliot graduates in a few weeks (after grade 11, he goes to a pre-university program). Turns out mother & son will be going to same school! heh

  • Thank you for this, Ann! I was one of those USN moms…and ps both your hair and legs looked great ;). I realized that I was graduating, too, from a community of parents (and particularly moms) that I have been a part of for 13 years. I miss them already. That kid I raised (shout out also to Dr. Fitz, who helped him get there), I’m actually supposed to let him go to college? You’ll have to help me with that one. I believe it will involve much knitting and yarn purchases!!

  • What a good essay, Ann! You have captured what most of us moms feel – and also what we who teach feel. It is hard to lose our students who have been such an important part of our lives, but also exciting to see their enthusiasm and anxiety and joy about moving forward. I do love this time of year, and also watch with mixed emotions as it comes and passes, and full summer begins in earnest.