Our oldest graduates high school tonight.  Every single cliche that was ever written about time flying has come painfully home to roost.  In those hard early years, when it felt like eternity just to get through a day, well-meaning older people would say “Enjoy it – it goes so fast” and I would nod and think Yeah, right.

Yeah, right.

One day you are bleary-eyed with sleep deprivation because they are newborns and the next because they are teenagers. And then they have the audacity TO GO TO COLLEGE!  How intensely ungrateful of them to grow up and leave.

The question I keep asking myself is how did we get here?

It’s the way of things.  When he was little, I would hold him and think I never want this to change and then it would and it was better.  Every phase seemed more interesting and fun, and I have to cling to that now – I need to hold tight to my past experience and trust it to be true for the future.  The best is yet to come.

Ah.  But isn’t that what God tells us over and over and over?  How am I so slow on the uptake?

There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:18

I know the plans I have for you … plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. I Corinthians 2:9

The grand narrative of scripture is so often about the next best thing.  Promises that what will come is better than what is now.  Sometimes the now is good, sometimes not, but either way better is commencing.

Merriam-Webster defines commencement as “a time when something begins.”

So why does it feel so much like an ending in my heart? I’ve spent the past few weeks reveling in the endings.  So many finals.  His final juggling show.  His final high school choir concert.  His final Boy Scout meeting.

While he’s been taking finals at school, I’ve been taking the finals of his childhood.

I am one of those lucky parents whose child is toward the young end of his particular grade.  As a late May baby, my boy just achieved adulthood legally.  So ALL of it culminates at once.

He commences. Something new is beginning.

In this time of lasts, there are also so many firsts.  The first time he signs his own waiver (that would be so he can ride a mechanical bull at the all-night graduation celebration – say, what? I am not sure he is qualified to make that decision! Oh wait.  Yes he is.) His first solo doctor’s appointment.  “Do you want me to go with you?”  “Yeah. But just sit out here in the waiting room.” Talk about feeling irrelevant.  Although it was kind of nice that HE had to fill out the paperwork!

He and his friends joked about buying cigarettes on their birthdays just because they could, not because they have any interest in smoking. (They didn’t do it.  Whew.)

I need to commence, too.  Not only do I need to take my hands off the wheel, but I should probably exit the vehicle.  On the other hand, I’m helping pay for college, so maybe I’ll just climb into the back seat.  This metaphor isn’t playing out quite how I’d like.  No one likes a back seat driver.

How do I commence this new phase of my life?  Again with the cliches – If you love something set it free…   Whatever.  But it is kind of fun to watch them fly.  Sometimes.

It just feels weird.  Conflicted.  Like I don’t know what to feel.  He’s ready.  I’m sort of ready.

There are things I keep reflecting on – have I said everything I should have? (Probably not.)  Have I said things I shouldn’t have?  (Yes. Uff da, yes – not so proud of those).

For the most part we’ve done it right.  We’ve taught him what is important to us, we’ve modeled the way we’d like to see him live. We’ve also screwed up, but we are big believers in repentance and forgiveness around this house, and so we’ve apologized. A lot.  Mostly we’ve loved him.

SO I keep reminding myself that this is not an end.  This is a beginning of an exciting and fun new phase.  Just like when he first smiled, or crawled, or began kindergarten was more fun and exciting than the previous stage. He is still my son. I will still have a presence in his life.  I will probably not hold my tongue when I should.  I will keep apologizing. I will keep forgiving and being forgiven.

He will take on the world. And with a lot of prayer and God willing, do a great job of it. He is ready to commence.