by Patti Richter
Out for a morning walk last week, I stopped to greet a neighbor from a safe, COVID-19-inspired distance. When I inquired about her well-being during these trying days, she burst into tears. Her daughter, she explained, is a high-school senior—was a high-school senior. Everything is upended in their world. And a graduation celebration is nowhere to be seen in the blurry picture.
Though it’s been ten years since my youngest child’s graduation, I totally understood. These commencement ceremonies mark a new beginning for our children, and they may further serve as an invisible book-end to Volume I of motherhood. The parenting journey that began with a stack of diapers and swaddling blankets reaches a pinnacle at the toss of a tassel.
When my son donned a satin robe and mortarboard to receive his college diploma, he thought it was no big deal, just a necessary bit of pageantry. I, however, considered it monumental, a milestone for both of us. I wanted to see his tassel swing with each of his long-legged strides across the stage. And I’d begun celebrating weeks ahead of the event while I addressed linen envelopes. Before sliding the announcements inside them, I rubbed my index finger across the gold-embellished emblem atop each one.
Motherhood usually begins with celebration, as it should. Friends and family come together to shower the mother-to-be with things she will need—about a dozen pages of store registry items these days. But when the baby arrives, the new mother may soon realize the astounding array of items filling the nursery has given her a false sense of confidence. The room is equipped, but is she?
Children have the power to turn their parents into desperate creatures. At first, we’re sleep-deprived. Then we move from that phase to a long succession of others, as if jumping from one stone to the next across an incredibly wide creek. But desperation drives prayer, which means that raising children may compel us to pray more earnestly and more often.
Mothers are well-acquainted with fear and trembling brought on by children and their circumstances, whether real or imagined. Seeking God in prayer will keep our hearts from fainting over any offspring-induced distress. And reading His Word relieves our fears and anxieties as we ingest His wisdom and promises.
The last chapter of Proverbs includes a long passage praising the qualities of a godly woman. It further suggests the attire she needs to run well in this long-distance marathon of motherhood: “strength and dignity,” which help her to “laugh at the days to come” (Proverbs 31:25 NIV).
In the future, if not now, “Her children arise and call her blessed” (Prverbs 31:28 NIV). However, it’s the next verse that likely holds the key to her success: “A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30 NIV).
For the mother with a heavy heart over postponed or canceled plans that would have celebrated your child’s milestone (graduations, weddings, etc.), may you experience God’s comfort in your loss. Psalm 94:19 NIV says, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”
Meanwhile, please remember the closing verse of Proverbs, which may indeed include another kind of graduation ceremony:
Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. Proverbs 31:31 NIV
Patti is the co-author of Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.
Join the conversation: Have important milestone events been canceled in your family this spring? How are you managing the loss?