A Love Letter to the Mamas of the High School Class of 2024 Graduates

To the mamas that have been following me from the start, the ones that I met when our kids were walking up the steps to preschool, this message is for you (but it will resonate with all of the wonderful mamas that read the blog).

While many of us no longer see each other physically anymore, we shared a time in our lives that was so special. If you think about it, this season of parenting may be the biggest part of our lives to date. It is a true act of service to parent a child, and I mean this is the most respectful way. Guiding our children through their formative years of education includes so much more than class time. As parents, we have been helping them along the way on each new journey of school and life, while simultaneously adulting with work, family and everything else. This year, especially, we are coming to a close in a very big chapter for our children.

This year, our children are graduating high school. That also means, we are hitting a milestone. As mothers, we have come to an end of an era. And I believe for all moms and dads and parental figures, reaching this stage in parenting it is worth taking note of this very special time in our lives.

How lucky are we to have this privilege to see them through? We’ve been able to hold them, love them, and see them shine. Now we have the honour to let them go and be great in this new stage of their lives.

It has not been easy for you, mama. I see you.

As we look back now with fond memories of all the amazing times our children have had, I know the truth. And from one mama to another, I say to you, well done.

We have watched as they grew from one year to the next, finding their way and helping them get there. Elementary school was filled with volunteering either at the library or for winter carnival weeks and fundraisers, or school outings. We spent time at the school, met on the playground, and hung out a little longer after school hours so our kids could have fun outside. We talked about the school, the kids, and how motherhood was going.

We made tons of packed lunches, and grocery runs, we signed up for things like Christmas cookie baskets for teachers, and appreciation weeks, we attended home and school meetings and got to know the teachers in each grade. We cheered on our kids for things like talent shows, music recitals, public speaking and Terry Fox runs. In their final year of grade school, we watched them become a little prouder, and little braver, and a little older as they were the big kids at school, helping out, being leaders for activities and getting ready for a new chapter.

Our kids graduated elementary school and we cried together, we celebrated together, and we collectively were nervous for what was to come; high school. How would they do? Would they find it hard? Would they make friends? Would other kids be kind to them? Would they be kind to others? Would they share things with us since we wouldn’t have the same relationship with the school and teachers anymore?

Would they be happy?

Well, with all of those concerns, none of us were prepared for what was to come for us and for them. Just as they were settling into things, a global pandemic happened and changed their high school experience completely. With mask wearing, cancelled school, virtual lessons, and class bubbles, school was not the only thing on everyone’s mind, yet they continued. Their resilience to carry on was commendable, but we knew the whole truth, right mama? There was mental health to think about. They couldn’t play sports, they couldn’t have field trips, they couldn’t socialize, they couldn’t be kids. I know you were right there, trying to help your child feel ok in very unsettling world trauma. As you were listening to the news, staying up to date on protocols and making vaccination appointments, you were also trying to navigate helping your teenager feel ok in this difficult time.

Miraculously, we all made it through. And in their final year of high school, they got back everything they had been missing of the high school experience. Dances, field trips, sports teams, clubs and school plays. We have been there to see the wins and the successes, big and small, and it has been amazing. But no one gets through high school unscathed. Our kids have undoubtably seen it all. Weather it is difficulties with studying or learning, drama with friends, sick days, covid sick days, catching up on days missed, mental health care, sport competitions without a winning championship, sports injuries, first relationships, heartbreaks…high school has a lot. Now, it is coming to a close for your child, and for you.

As mamas, we take all that in and we hold it close to our hearts. And with all the mama bear energy that we have, we keep it (mostly) under wraps and let our child figure it out. I think these years might have been the hardest for us, to watch our child deal with personal struggles, and want so badly to fix or comfort them, but know that now they are older, and our fixes just won’t help the same.

We have to hold all the hurts for our child in our heart and watch them handle it themselves. This, mamas, has been our biggest milestone.

On a very personal note, I want to acknowledge the mamas, like me, that have lost a mom or dad, or both. Trying to navigate this motherhood experience without the help of our parents is heavy and bittersweet. As you watch your child grow up and bare witness to all their character traits that either remind you of your parent, or that they would have loved to see in person, it can be so heavy. Grieving their loss and celebrating milestones without them there is very difficult. Parenting without your parents is a sadness that is very hard to describe.

As well, for the mamas that have lost loved ones during these years, as many have during the pandemic, I am sending you so much love and strength. You managed to parent your child through to end of high school with an extreme grief that is not always understood in our society.

To the mamas that have had to face other difficulties, all while raising up their children, I see you too.  Whether it was a loss of a job, or holding a job with long hours, divorce, separations of family, losses, moves, racism, financial difficulties, all of these situations are the added weights mothers might carry as they parent young humans that will one day become adults. We are a pivotal part of society, whether society acknowledges it or not. We are the backbone in this world and our children will be the changes we pray for because we are raising them up to be better, bolder and brighter than anything else we have seen.

More than ever, our children are wise beyond their years, they are kind beyond measure, they are aware of mental health and social justice and environmental realities. They care deeply. They want to change the world and they will. And you, mama, have a lot to do with that.

So congratulations to your child that I have seen grow up. To the one that played Hot Cross Buns on the recorder in elementary, all the way to walking on stage to collect their high school diploma. Congratulations to you on taking them on this journey. I am proud of every one of them. I can’t wait to see what they do next!

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