Mom to the rescue – Don’t Iron a Graduation Gown While Crying

A few months ago, I posted this question on my blog Facebook page:

“Dear 2020 Senior Moms: what advice/words of wisdom/guidance/encouragement would you offer next year’s senior moms?”

I asked this partly because I wanted to recognize these wonderful women and partly because I am a 2021 senior mom and “next year” has suddenly become this year, and I. NEED. TO. KNOW.

With the same grace these amazing moms lent their 2020 graduates, they responded generously, their answers ranging from practical to passionate.

Here, with deepest appreciation, are 21 culled and compiled pieces of wisdom from the moms of the class of 2020. I know I’ll be keeping a copy of this list close at hand…right alongside my purse-pack tissues and my waterproof mascara.

  • Don’t cry when you iron your senior’s graduation gown. Tear drops make more wrinkles.
  • Listen more than you speak and worry less than you listen.
  • Ask—don’t assume—if they want to participate in school senior/graduation festivities and “lasts.” Not all seniors want to. It is their year. Let them do it their way.
  • Allow space for the process of grieving. Honor your senior’s emotions.
  • Keep talking to your senior. Give them advice and guidance, because even though they’re bold and ready, they’re also anxious and need you still. Be close, but don’t hover.
  • Find out-of-the-box ways to celebrate. Try to help your student see (and to see yourself) that different does not mean not as good.
  • Take some moments to cry to yourself about the things you’ll miss and then cheer openly for all the new opportunities and adventures your son or daughter will have in coming years.
  • Be ready to be surprised by—and so proud of—how bravely yet honestly your senior will handle what comes his or her way.
  • (Often.) And give yourself and everyone around you all the grace you can gather.
  • Understand that your senior is looking for independence as you are holding onto their lasts. They will experience a lot of emotions as they let go of you, in a way, and as they look toward their future. Their independence will shake you, but it will also make you proud.
  • Teach them to address an envelope.
  • Remember to take time for you. Renew your interest in things you loved in the past. This will be a gift to you and to your graduate.
  • You never know what you’ll end up loving. (Drive-thru graduation was a kick! If you have it, go all out!)
  • Cherish all the small moments. Take nothing for granted. Enjoy every moment with your whole heart. These kids earned this time to be celebrated. Celebrate everything. Be present. Do it for your kids; do it for you. Do it for the kids who didn’t get to enjoy senior nights and prom nights and graduation festivities. Do it for their mamas who were heartbroken for these moments to pass uncelebrated. Applaud your senior loud enough for all of us.
  • Don’t blink. But do breathe.
  • Plan ahead; don’t wait till the last minute. Don’t procrastinate on minimum requirements for college applications. Be patient with online learning.
  • Pictures. Of. EVERYTHING. And be IN the pictures.
  • Be supportive, let your students have fun, be there for what they need (hugs, chats, food, a confidante), enjoy spending time with them, encourage them, tell them again and again how proud you are of them, and love them.
  • Enjoy the ordinary moments. That’s where real life is.
  • There will be so many “lasts,” but there will be so many firsts to look forward to, also. Cry…but then put on a smile and get out there and enjoy every minute with them!
  • Do all the things and take it all in. Love fiercely…and laugh often.

Deepest thanks to all the mamas who not only shared pieces of their stories on my page but also gave me permission to tell those stories here. You and your graduates truly put the class in the Class of 2020.

by Elizabeth Spencer