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My firstborn is graduating

Sending my senior off into an ever-changing future

Rebekah’s daughter Abby posing for her senior pictures

May is just around the corner and this year there are mixed feelings about that.
My oldest, the one who made me a mother, graduates in May. And we can hardly breathe through the panic. She, about what’s ahead for her and me, for how that changes everything for us.

Why didn’t I foresee all that growing a child to adulthood meant to a mother? Advice and encouragement and so many sentences that start with “oh yeah” are being remembered and reminded lest she grow up and leave home without knowing it. I haven’t figured out how to remind her in a way that I can be sure that she will take to heart all of the things I wish I’d known then.

I still remember how it felt to know both everything and nothing at 18 in May of my senior year. I recognize the same conflict in my daughter’s eyes. I hope she realizes that it’s ok to not have it all figured out yet. It will come and it will change and it will change again.

And just when you have it all figured out, it will all change again!

I don’t know who decided that seniors in high school magically have it all figured out by May, but she thinks she is behind because she doesn’t. I remind her that even now I don’t have it all figured out because hallelujah, life is fluid and changing and wouldn’t it be a shame to be the same person this year that I was last?

On that note, I will remind her to invest less in the “now” and more in what matters long term: that family, good character, and cultivating relationships matters greatly. And that it takes effort and purpose to keep balance between goals for the future and the relationships amidst it all, but that it’s important. And to trust God first, and herself second.

I kind of want to say trust mom second, but I shall gulp and swallow and move that to a lower spot. Because if there was ever a time to start trusting yourself it is when you are standing on the edge of your future and staring into that wonderfully exciting and terrifying expanse. Here is also where I remind her again, gently, that just because you are on that brink of adulthood, it doesn’t mean that you have your path well lit or well planned.

Maybe this quote from CS Lewis would help ease the fear of what’s to come. “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” Because change is hard and I think she, and I, will need this reminder often.

While her baby pictures are mighty sweet, and parts of me ache to go back, how exciting to be entering that next stage of adult friendship and seeing her become all the things we prayed she’d be. And so I will remind us both that change is ok, and maybe even good. And oh, is it hard!

Last year she said, “Don’t worry mom, I’m not going anywhere.” Honestly, I wished it was true. But that rite of passage that is graduation and adulthood calls you out, regardless of how much you think that it won’t. To stand and knock at your future with both wonder and trembling is inevitable.

It’s May 2019 and, my first born is graduating high school. And so I leave her with the verse my parents prayed for me all of those years ago when I too stared at my future with so many mixed feelings. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” —Jeremiah 29:11

Written by Rebekah Engebretson

Rebekah Engebretson

Rebekah lives in a little house on the prairie with her husband and 4 daughters near Watford City. She is a huge North Dakota fan and loves people and taking pictures and personality tests.

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