I learned why many term this month Maycember for the amount of extra activity associated with the end of a school year. Today, as I reflect on my daughter’s last day as a high school senior, this list more accurately highlights what I’ve learned over last 18 Mays as a Mother.


Dear Empathetic Reader,

1)      As you watch your child walk to his/her car on the final day as a high school student, there won’t be a band playing a celebratory song on your front lawn or confetti falling from heaven. The birds will chirp their morning song as God whispers, “Well done,” and you’ll still struggle to believe it. Because doubt is the backdrop of Motherhood that keeps your knees pressed into the carpet.

2)      No matter if you are 18 or 50, the longing for love and acceptance from your parents will never leave you.

3)      Children know the difference between love and obligation. Sometimes it is prudent to stay home instead of meeting for breakfast at the Waffle House when your heart isn’t in it. Silence in absence is better than careless criticism with your presence.

4)      Words have the power to unleash greatness or suck the life out of your children. Choose wisely. I admit I haven’t always done that.

5)      A clean and tidy bedroom will never be a priority for a teenager.

6)      Those children who keep their bedrooms neat during high school are an anomaly; don’t use them as the standard for how you parent.

7)      Character determines the path of the future more than the chords of accomplishment hanging around their neck at graduation. They will learn what that means by watching you.


8)      This is apparently what one serving of cake looks like to a teenage boy. Did I mention ice cream is an accompaniment to cake like ketchup is to French fries?

9)      No matter how much you teach your children to prepare them for adulthood, you will feel as though you’ve forgotten something important. You will lay in bed at night recounting how you could’ve taught them better and then wake up in the morning and watch life take over your idealism.

10)   You will never, I mean never, take redemption for granted. The posture of redemption in Motherhood is thankfulness.

11)   Motherhood is a daily surrender to your ego and a wrestling match with your control freak. If winning is your goal, broken relationship will be your legacy.

12)   Children learn how to navigate pain and difficulty by experiencing failure. This will only happen when you stop orchestrating outcomes. Ask me how I know this.

13)   Responsible adults are often children trusted with responsibilities that seem beyond them. Children will rise to the level of expectation you set for them. If the bar is low, don’t expect them to exceed it.

14)   God has a plan for your children in spite of your failures in parenting. You will never get used to the way they extend forgiveness and look to you for guidance.

15)   For their heart to be turned to Christ in all things is the most important prayer you can utter as a Mother. It covers all the bases.

16)   On the last day of school, when you pack their last lunch and they take your “I love you” for granted you will realize that motherhood is the hardest and most rewarding accomplishment of your life. And you’ll thank God for trusting you to do it while you cry off your mascara.


What have you learned this month?

Linking with Emily Freeman, the one who started the “What I Learned” lists. Photos taken by my friend and artist with a camera, Kelly Sauer.