From the day you found out you were expecting, this human has depended on you to help nurture and grow them into the amazing human they are today. Many of us read everything we could about pregnancy and motherhood. Spent countless sleepless nights as they were infants. Wondered what we were thinking as they went through the terrible twos. Suddenly we were dropping them off at the first day of school, hoping they’d make friends, adjust well, and not pick their nose in public. We’d transition into a taxi driver and whisk them from place to place, in hopes to give them every opportunity for the life we had dreamed for them when they were in our womb. As they entered their teen years, things did not get easier. And as we have learned along the way, nothing ever got easier, just different. From first dances, first loves, first heart breaks, to learning how to drive and college visits, we could feel the years slipping by quickly.

As we tearfully take the photos of all their “last” moments of high school, stop for just one moment. I want you to look back and remember that young mom who had this precious child, who successfully, no matter how many bumps in the road, has supported this beautiful human throughout their life and helped shape them into the person they are today. These “last” moments are not something to cry about, these are celebrations. When you see them dressed up an heading off to prom, remember when they couldn’t even dress themselves, and now look a what you have helped create. You will find similar moments in every single “last” that you are experiencing.

As you prepare for their graduation day, please remember to wear water proof mascara, and one more thing. As you sit in your seat watching all the names be called, and all your children’s peers that are walking across that stage into their new life, I want you to focus on one thing. It doesn’t matter what you hear or read someone else’s child is doing after high school, what matters is that your child and all the other children that are walking across into their new young adult lives are HAPPY.

If you son or daughter is going off to a wonderful college with a sports or academic scholarship, wonderful; I hope this was the path they chose and they are excited about the opportunity. If they are off to the military to serve our country, first, let me thank you for raising one of America’s heroes; and how exciting it must be for them to embark on this journey. If you child is off to community college, a trade school, or maybe they are choosing to get a job and figure out what it is they are going to do with their life; congratulations for raising a child who knows the value of chasing their dreams at their own pace.

You see when we first learn we are expecting, we have every right to dream every dream for them. Of course we want them to have the best life possible. And just as we encouraged them with their first steps, or to try those green beans or brussel sprouts just one time; please remember it is your job to make them feel proud and accepted of whatever life they choose for themselves. It is NOT your job to be disappointed or push them for your dream.

In a few days, weeks, or months when you are sending them off to college, a new job or putting them on a plane to be yelled at for the next 2 or 3 months at basic training; do so with encouragement, love, support, and pride, just like you did the day you dropped them off for their first day of school. And when or if they call you and tell you they’ve failed, they changed their mind about their course of study (for the third time in their first semester), they no longer want to play on the team, or the many other things that could occur during these still formative years; I want you to promise yourself right now that you will handle that with dignity, grace, and the same love you gave them when they fell off their bike and ripped their brand new jeans the first day they were wearing them.

As you sit here holding on for dear life for these “last” moments, please know this; you are not finished, not even close sister. The next few years and even beyond, that baby of yours is going to need their momma. No they don’t need you to smother them, move across the country to be near them (don’t act like you haven’t thought about it, we all do at one point or another); what they need is for you to be a phone call, text, or snap (yes you might have join some additional social media networks to continue communication, roll with it) away at any given moment to cheer with them, cry with them, or walk them through how to not have pink underwear (even if you’ve taught them 100s of times before). Read this momma….THEY STILL NEED YOU! Your role is just changing and thats ok.

There is still one more lesson you can teach them. For some of you, you have already done this their whole lives, or at least a portion of them. I want you to understand that now is the time, if you haven’t already to teach them how to live! Show them that a grown woman can enjoy life, have hobbies and interests outside of their children, show them that is will NEVER be too late to chase your dreams. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children.

To every one of you, congratulations! You have done something amazing, wonderful, and beautiful…you have given a life to the sweet baby you gave life to so many years ago. You have taught them to be kind, loving, giving humans, the most important thing they could ever become. Enjoy these moments, and embrace the new role you will play in their life over the coming years. Be excited! Take a moment to feel the absolute joy and pride of these accomplishments. And finally remember, the only thing that REALLY matters, is that they are good, kind, well rounded, happy adults.