To Our Graduating Son: You’ve Made This Much, Much Harder Than it Needed to Be…

MIC_3069a copyDear Oldest Son…You graduate tomorrow! It is so hard for me to wrap my head around this. You were our “little guy” for a long time, then our “big guy” for awhile, and all of the sudden you are a man. It happened that fast. Probably happened faster for us than you.

So graduation will be celebrated tomorrow and with it will come a whirlwind of other milestones that involve our faith, college, marriage, employment, parenting, and a whole host of other things. You’re hitting the most exciting and adventurous time of your life. High school has been wonderful, but you haven’t seen anything yet. It gets better. So much better. So much deeper and more meaningful. You’re going to love it.

MIC_3059 copyYou think I’d be more excited. Honestly, I am. But you’ve actually made this much harder than it should be. Let me explain…

From what I hear, many parents are relieved to get this far without major incident. Secretly, many parents are excited for this day because their child starts out on his or her own. That is something to celebrate. No more late nights, waiting up and worrying about their child. No more lectures. No more school fees. The stress level eases up a bit.

But we never had that with you.

We haven’t been waiting for you to leave. We’ve been enjoying having you in our family more than you can imagine.

  • You’re a wonderful “big brother” and have done things with your siblings that Mom and I couldn’t have done.
  • You are so enjoyable to talk with. Your opinions and views are interesting and respectable and admirable and genuine.
  • You are kind to others. You are more kind than I was at your age.
  • You’ve made it look easy, but it hasn’t always been easy for you. You’ve battled. I look up to you. 
  • You have always taken into account our feelings when you’ve made decisions. That isn’t easy for any teenager and maybe wasn’t for you either. But you’ve done it.
  • You are so good at taking counsel. I know I’ve gone on a bit too long in my “teaching moments” and you’ve been pretty patient with me. Very patient, actually.
  • You express gratitude and notice when Mom and I have tried to make life enjoyable for you and your brothers and sisters.
  • You have lived in a way that has allowed us to hear so many good things about you from other adults. I’ve walked away from many conversations with others about you and have smiled.
  • Your dating life has been a joy to witness and hear about.
  • You are the type of son who I like to share parts of my day with. You get excited about other people’s success.
  • You have grown closer to God in a way that gives me and Mom a lot of peace in our hearts. Your spiritual life is genuine.

You’ve made mistakes. We’ve made mistakes. We’ve had to run quite the experiment on you. We hadn’t done this parenting thing before you came along. It hasn’t been perfect and we’ve been far-from-perfect parents. But son, you have made it very hard to let you go because it has been a privilege and blessing to be your parents.

Let me confess something here that is a little embarrassing for me: A few days ago when no one was home, I went down into your room for something and while I was down there I caught a whiff of your bedding and pillowcase. It brought me to tears. In a weird way, you smell the same as when you were a little boy. I know that smell and I love it. I sat there on your bed, in tears, and mourned. You know, I’ve never wanted these days to end. Playing catch, kicking the soccer ball around, wrestling, joking. Eventually coaching your teams, taking you to try-outs, touring the middle school and high school. Helping you remember your locker combination. Late night school projects. Getting excited for your first date and dance, ordaining you to offices of the priesthood, talking about your first kiss, teaching you to drive. Applying for college, filling out your church missionary application. Designing your high school graduation announcement…Now those doors and chapters are closing. And it is hard. At least, it is hard for me. I can’t tell you how hard this is for me.

But here’s what won’t change: Mom and I will pray for and about you everyday until we pass away. You need to know that. We’ll eventually pray for your sweetheart and children. You’ll always have a home, and eventually it will be a home away from the home you and your wife will build. We will always love you, and that love is not dependent upon your success or failure. You can count on it. We will always want to hear about your day. Your struggles. Your questions. Your triumphs. And whatever boring things happen in your life won’t feel boring to us. We’ll want to hear about them. We’ve had confidence in you since the start, and that will only grow. 

So, go ahead and graduate tomorrow. It’s time and you’re ready. And we’re excited and ready to celebrate. We love you more than you can understand. But please know that deep down in my heart, this is hard. And you’ve made it that way, because you’ve been an answer to our prayers…

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8 thoughts on “To Our Graduating Son: You’ve Made This Much, Much Harder Than it Needed to Be…

  1. rdolsen

    Landon has a great dad. I appreciated reading this Brian, as it took me back to those moments with my kids, including some alone time in their rooms before they vacated them. From here things get even better! And harder! 😉 Good job!

    Reply
  2. Michael Bridge

    Two years ago when Chelsea left to go to BYUI I found myself in this very state. Your words are perfect, or at least the spirit of them is. Watching her walk away at the Detroit airport took the air out of my lungs. For days after she was gone I would pull in to the driveway after work and sit there and cry because it was just so odd to think about walking in to our home without Chels there. Honestly I still tear up on occasion but it is getting better. Sure love you guys. I can’t imagine doing this without our eternal perspective.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    Mike Bridge
    Ontario West Seminary and Institute Coordinator
    Cel 226-268-7960
    Email bridgemj@ldschurch.org

    Reply
  3. mommick

    Well, now your dad and I are in tears feeling humble and proud. If only every parent and child had these feelings, our world would be different. We are grateful to be enjoying this beautiful weekend with you.

    Reply
  4. Jeanne

    Man, there must be something about this year of kids because my son graduated on Wednesday and he’s an exceptional young man as well, as are many of his peers. I thought maybe it’s just Idaho, growing all of these good kids, but he was born in Utah. They are just some of the best kids ever, ESPECIALLY the Young Men. He has a sister 15 mo. younger than him and she and some of her peers are wonderful too. It makes me wonder what these particular youth are here to accomplish.
    As far as emotions, It was harder for me to get his older sister graduated- way more emotional going through all of the “first times” as a parent, and “Lasts” for her senior year. He’s always been way more confident and less anxious, so it was easier to let him go on school trips and things, because he didn’t get nervous much. But he was so done with HS, as was his sister, so that was the same, so I was happy for both of them to graduate and cried less sad tears than I thought I would. I did all of my sad for him two band concerts ago for some reason- the last one was just joyful to watch him do his thing.
    I also think something’s wrong that I don’t feel sad about Mission stuff, but then, we aren’t rushing it and have only done dental and medical. I think we’re waiting to see when it “feels” like it’s time to get started, until then he’s working through the summer and late fall is a target date we’ve talked about. Lots of crazy that we’ve been waiting to settle and see where we are first. But it feels calm and fine and I am so thankful for that. I am thankful that it means more for him to go at the right time, rather than making sure he got a call before the end of the school year so people would know. Not that his friends’ needed that recognition, but as we talked about it with his dad and I, having people know before they all left, wasn’t a priority, just the correct timing. For them it was the right timing too, but I was glad he didn’t feel pressure to have to go with the crowd, but then again, he usually doesn’t. That’s part of what makes him so great. Hooray for the awesome youth of this Church that choose the right so effortlessly sometimes- you all amaze me! It reminds me of that song “Oh youth of the noble birthright, carry on, carry on, carry on!”

    Reply

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