A Mothers’ Thoughts on Graduation

mortar-board-32277__180By Jennifer Hallmark

I wrote this article back in 2004 when my daughter, Mandy, graduated. I didn’t write another three years later when my son, Jonathan, graduated because the sentiment was the same. Hope you enjoy it.

It was Saturday; the day after the Lady Hornets won the state 2 A championship in basketball. Our family had made the long trek down to Birmingham with the other Hornet faithful and watched a well-earned victory. Sadness lingered, as most of the athletes were seniors, girls soon to venture on to college, careers, or possibly marriage and a family.

I thought back to my daughter’s first day of kindergarten when I said I wouldn’t cry. She would enjoy school and I wouldn’t have to hear her and her brother fuss all day. It would be quieter, I reasoned. When I arrived at her classroom, I had to fight back tears. Life was going to be very different from this day on. I cried all the way home.

Elementary school was an adventure: nap time, strips pulled for disobedience, harvest festivals, beauty walks, cheerleading, fourth grade and the endless fund-raisers. My child grew from a tiny five-year-old to an excited, somewhat awkward pre-teen. Sixth grade graduation came and went. We purchased the nice dress, snapped tons of pictures, and tried to hold onto all the good memories we could.

High school proved to be a whole different story, full of struggles and victories. My daughter wanted to be grown and independent, yet needed a security beyond my ability to give. Our days overflowed with band competitions, ball games, “going out” with boys, and endless school and church events that turned my time into “taxi” service.

Her sophomore and junior year sprinted by at a speed I didn’t think possible. Her classmates grew and matured into men and women ready to master their world. The class drifted apart as some attended trade school for half the day. Classmates stayed absorbed with sports or societies, while others worked part-time. Some of the class moved, and a few dropped out of school.

diploma-309947__180The senior year finally arrived, bringing with it elements that unified the students. Starting with school pictures, and later ordering invitations and cap and gowns brought a sudden realization that this was it. They’d really made it. Senior meetings and discussion of prom blurred as my daughter crammed study, work, dates, and church into twenty-four hour days. I told her to enjoy it. Senior years only come once. After graduation everyone goes their own way, and reunions are not the same.

At times, the ups and downs of high school flabbergasted me. Again and again I had to remind myself that I was once a teenager too. Overall my child gained knowledge and experience that has served her well. I learned so much myself during these school years and I found the years ahead better and fuller because of what we learned together.

At one of the last ball games, I spoke to another senior mother. I mentioned how hard it was to believe our children were graduating. Emotion choked me as déjà vu hit home. My life would never be the same again. I’d always said I wouldn’t cry when she started kindergarten. Or at graduation. Something told me I’d better carry plenty of tissue anyway.

I’m glad I did.

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The Tough Questions

Dora Hiers-author imageBy Dora Hiers

We never thought we’d be empty nesters when our youngest son was just sixteen. He’d always been independent and mature, but sixteen?

Born and raised in Florida, he’d been surrounded by a tight network of friends that he’d known his whole life. He’d have been content to stay there until he graduated from the University of Florida, where all his friends planned to attend.

Hubby and I had other plans. Longing to escape the extreme humidity and high temps, we prayed for jobs in cooler climates. God told us no…for twenty years.

I guess our son never expected God would finally say yes. But He did.

Uprooting our son mid-year in tenth grade wasn’t ideal, and the NC county we were moving to didn’t offer the International Baccalaureate program. He would have lost credits by transferring, so we arranged for him to stay and finish the school year with relatives.

He spent the following summer in North Carolina with us, but he was miserable. So he moved back to Florida. Without telling us. This mother’s heart shattered into a million pieces. But that wasn’t the worst of it. We learned that we could drag him back, but nothing could prevent him from leaving again.

“You’re a terrible mother.” The enemy’s lies slithered in. Just like Eve, I pointed the finger of blame at my husband, but he spent long hours working. I blamed God. Why wait until our son was so ensconced in high school, when friendships were so important to him, to move us? I stopped writing, eating, sleeping.

God heard my cry and answered with a sweet husband who recognized we needed diploma-303427__180help and a Christian counselor who asked some tough questions. Why not let him stay? Give up our son? How could I possibly do that? What would it do to your relationship if you forced him to come back? I couldn’t fathom the answer to that one. After a few sessions and much prayer, God’s gentle whispers finally seeped into my broken spirit.

If it weren’t for my husband and this Christian counselor, who asked the tough questions and helped us see that our relationship was worth the distance and the cost, our family might have disintegrated.

Hubby and I adjusted to the empty bedroom, the vacant chair at dinner, and the steady stream of cash to Florida. We counted the days until the occasional long weekend visits and holiday breaks. For his senior year, we rented an apartment, and I split my time between both places.

It was all worth it. Especially that moment when he walked across the stage of the Kenan Stadium at the University of North Carolina to accept his diploma. Yes, you read that right. He graduated from the University of North Carolina! God definitely has a sense of humor, doesn’t He?

What about you?

What tough questions have you faced during a particularly difficult time?

BurksSurrender_w11734_680Burk’s Surrender

Deputy City Manager Burk Harmon has always been the strong one for his family, but recently those responsibilities have dwindled. When Lacie Heatherton, Assistant Director for Parks and Recreation, ropes him into a city-sponsored trip to the mountains with fifty seniors, Burk has two things on his mind: considering a possible promotion and wooing Lacie past friendship and into a future. Lacie has emotional scars and a thirteen-year-old daughter to remind her that men can be cruel and unforgiving. Can Burk convince Lacie to relax her “no dating” policy or will he surrender his dreams of family and love?

Buy Links: Pelican Book Group Amazon

After a successful auditing career, Dora Hiers left the corporate world to be a stay-at-home mom to her two sons. When her youngest son no longer wanted her hanging out at school with him anymore, Dora started writing Heart Racing, God-Gracing romance. She is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and her local chapter, Carolina Romance Writers.

Dora and her real life hero make their home in North Carolina. When she takes a break from cranking out stories, she enjoys reading, family gatherings, and mountain cabin getaways. She despises traffic, bad coffee, technological meltdowns, and a sad ending to a book. Her books always end with a happily-ever-after!

Connect with her on Fiction Faith & Foodies, Seriously Write, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.