Author’s Note: This editorial was printed in The White Mountain Independent in Show Low, Arizona in May 1997, when the author's daughter graduated from high school. It still holds true for graduates and parents today.
(Dedicated to my beautiful graduate – Sarah. I love you.)
The graduation seniors file in and as they take their seats a thought crosses your mind. Tonight you must let go.
Let Go! A comment often heard by a youngster to another hanging on.
Let Go! A comment heard by a teen who is no longer romantically interested in one holding on.
Let Go! A thought running through a young adult’s mind as she marches up the aisle to receive her High School Diploma – let go of this childhood, let go of Mom and Dad, I don’t want to let go of my friends, but I am receiving my ticket to adulthood.
Let Go! A thought running through a parent’s mind when her child is graduating from high school. She’s of age and earned it. Let Go! But God it is hard!
As you watch her walk up the aisle to receive her diploma from the Principal you remember words from a country song “I’ve had eighteen years to get ready for this day,” why is it still so hard? In your mind you hope you’ve done your best to prepare her for the choices she must make in life. You’ve coached, guided, grounded, been there through thick and thin, and even yelled a time or two.
Why is it still so hard to let go? In your heart you remember the baby days, when your friends called her a precious china doll. You remember the middle years of awkward friendships, laughter, and volatile adolescence.
You remember the older teen, begging for freedom to stay out late (but deep inside wanting a curfew). One moment she is eager, excited, on-top-of-the-world; the next she is fearful and unsure.
As she accepts the hand shake and diploma your eyes tell you she’s grown-up. She’s studied hard to achieve her diploma and is anxiously awaiting her freedom in the world of adults. She’s learned to make decisions and accept consequences from them. She’s discovered tasks she thoroughly enjoys as well as those she absolutely hates. She’s on the right track to fulfill her life’s goals. The dreams are there for her to attain, if you let go.
Now, she is so independent – she moves the tassel on her graduation cap to the other side, signifying her achievement. You clap your hands with tears in your eyes, pride in your heart, and a big lump in your throat. She walks proudly back to her seat and flashes you a smile like sunshine as she catches your eye. This is one goal she has already achieved: you are there to share its glory. She is ready for more.
You cheer her on. You are letting go. You can do it. But, God, it is hard!