July 19, 2020

Don't Iron a Graduation Gown While Crying . . . and Other Wisdom From the Moms of the Class of 2020 

A few weeks ago, I posted this question on my blog Facebook page:

“Dear 2020 Senior Moms: what advice/words of wisdom/guidance/encouragement would you offer next year’s senior moms?”

I asked this partly because I wanted to recognize these wonderful women and partly because I am a 2021 senior mom and “next year” has suddenly become this year, and I. NEED. TO. KNOW.

With the same grace these amazing moms lent their 2020 graduates, they responded generously, their answers ranging from practical to passionate.

Here, with deepest appreciation, are 21 culled and compiled pieces of wisdom from the moms of the class of 2020. I know I’ll be keeping a copy of this list close at hand...right alongside my purse-pack tissues and my waterproof mascara.

1. Don’t cry when you iron your senior’s graduation gown. Tear drops make more wrinkles.

2. Listen more than you speak, and worry less than you listen.

3. Ask—don’t assume—if they want to participate in school senior/graduation festivities and "lasts." Not all seniors want to. It is their year. Let them do it their way.

4. Allow space for the process of grieving. Honor your senior's emotions.

5. Keep talking to your senior. Give them advice and guidance, because even though they’re bold and ready, they’re also anxious and need you still. Be close, but don't hover.

6. Find out-of-the-box ways to celebrate. Try to help your student see (and to see yourself) that different does not mean not as good.

7. Take some moments to cry to yourself about the things you’ll miss and then cheer openly for all the new opportunities and adventures your son or daughter will have in coming years.

8. Be ready to be surprised by—and so proud of—how bravely yet honestly your senior will handle what comes his or her way. 

9. Pray. (Often.) And give yourself and everyone around you all the grace you can gather.

10. Understand that your senior is looking for independence as you are holding onto their lasts. They will experience a lot of emotions as they let go of you, in a way, and as they look toward their future
.Their independence will shake you, but it will also make you proud.

11. Teach them to address an envelope.

12. Remember to take time for you. Renew your interest in things you loved in the past. This will be a gift to you and to your graduate.

13. You never know what you’ll end up loving. (Drive-thru graduation was a kick! If you have it, go all out!)

14. Cherish all the small moments. Take nothing for granted. Enjoy every moment with your whole heart. These kids earned this time to be celebrated. Celebrate everything. Be present. Do it for your kids; do it for you. Do it for the kids who didn’t get to enjoy senior nights and prom nights and graduation festivities. Do it for their mamas who were heartbroken for these moments to pass uncelebrated. Applaud your senior loud enough for all of us.

15. Don’t blink. But do breathe.

16. Plan ahead; don’t wait till the last minute. Don’t procrastinate on minimum requirements for college applications. Be patient with online learning.

17. Take. Pictures. Of. EVERYTHING. And be IN the pictures.

18. Be supportive, let your students have fun, be there for what they need (hugs, chats, food, a confidante), enjoy spending time with them, encourage them, tell them again and again how proud you are of them, and love them.

19. Enjoy the ordinary moments. That’s where real life is.

20. There will be so many “lasts,” but there will be so many firsts to look forward to, also. Cry...but then put on a smile and get out there and enjoy every minute with them!

21. Do all the things and take it all in. Love fiercely...and laugh often.


Deepest thanks to all the mamas (including but not limited to those listed below) who not only shared pieces of their stories on my page but also gave me permission to tell those stories here. You and your graduates truly put the class in the Class of 2020. 

With Tehanne Cooney, Mindi Hommerding, Mellanie Barksdale, Amber Lee Balentine, Kristina Bellon, Debbie Jones, Traci Welborn Holland, Heather Ann Lynn, Lisa Page, Michele Weyland, Jennifer Edmondson Viveiros, Vicky Valle, Cheryl Gottlieb Boxer, Debra Fhaner Cascioli, Becky Harless, Fiona Sing, Gena Bethune McCown, Robin Basone, Stephanie Kay Suranyi, Jennifer Lynn Remer, Jennifer Meyers-Heeter, Lorri Gail Moffatt, Emily Pruitt Nemec, Kori Titus, Katie Rud, Becki Heck-K
nister, Leanne Grow, Lavinna Rendon, Tammy Ward, Stephanie Pietrasiewicz, Lisa Edwards Cyr, Amy Shupe, Cyndi Edgley.

Photo credit: Melanie Ortt

July 16, 2020

For All We Still Don't Know, Here's What We Do Know, Still

The unknowns still feel as though they're ruling the day, these days.

Or, at the very least, they still feel like a bunch of bullies who just won't back down for good.

We don't know what day-to-day life is going to look like this school year.

We don't know what's going to be open, closed, happening, cancelled, rescheduled, or restructured.

We don't know if trips or events or celebrations we've postponed are ever going to have their day.

We don't know what the virus is going to do next or when a vaccine might be ready.

We don't know what's going to be in short supply or a lot more expensive next.

We don't know how far in the future we have to look for plans that are safe to make.

And maybe one of the most unsettling things we still don't know is how long we're not going to know all this. We thought we knew how long a few months ago: a few months, we thought.

It's the open-endedness that still makes this new normal so murky. If only we had a better idea idea of how and when we're going to finally turn a corner. But that how and when still feel like the leaders of the unknown parade at the moment.

Yet for all we still don't know, here's what we do still know. (Some of which, we must admit, we didn't know three months ago.)

We know that learning can happen in lots of different ways and places, even if a lot of those ways and places don't feel ideal.

We know that getting outside and moving around are always good ideas, and we've never appreciated fresh air more.

We know kindness is disease-resistant and is, in fact, one of the best disease-fighters around.

We know laughter does not have to wait until there's nothing unfunny going on. Cannot wait, actually.

We know having a home to be in is a privilege.

We know patience is a skill we can get better at with practice.

We know the big picture is made up of a lot of little pieces that all have to be fit together before they make sense.

We know doing what's best for others often comes at a sacrifice to ourselves.

We know encouragement is not a one-time deposit but an ongoing investment.

We know right now is always the perfect time to tell our people we love them, even though we hope with all our hearts they already know it full well.

And when—when, not if—the fog of doubt closes in again, we strain our eyes once more to see this guiding truth that has not changed...does not change: G
od knows where we are, and no matter how we've gotten there, He is always ready to take us somewhere new worth going.

"He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold" (Job 23:10).

July 11, 2020

I Can Do All This When I Pray

“All I can do is pray.”

How many times have I heard this?

More to the point: how many times have I said this?

Obvious answer: many.

On top of which, I usually say it—“all I can do is pray”—with a sigh of resignation, as if I’m conceding defeat.

Resignation and defeat? Really?

Clearly, I’ve lost track of what I’m actually doing when I pray...what any of us is doing when we come to God within the context of relationship with Him and with full confession of the ways we’ve missed the mark of His goodness.

When you or I pray, we are availing ourselves of unfiltered, no middleman, split-second access to the Great I AM.

When "all" we can do is pray, we are putting ourselves in a position of faith before the All in All.

And yet: “all I can do is pray”?


I think I’ve got my “all” in the wrong place here.

A little rearranging seems in order: I can do all this when I pray.

(And you can, too.)

The “all this” I can do when I pray includes but is most definitely not limited to...

I can approach the throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16).

I can get help for what I need (Hebrews 4:16).

I can call up the peace guard (Philippians 4:6-7).

I can be restored (Job 33:26-28).

I can steer clear of temptation (Mark 14:38).

I can see demons driven out (Mark 9:29).

I can please God (Proverbs 15:8).

All this. Just from talking to God—Who very much wants to hear from me (and from you, too).

No fancy words. No fussy format. No prior experience required.

All that is needed is an understanding that I can do all this when I pray because I’m not the one doing anything at all and faith (even the size of a mustard seed) that the One Who can do all this, will.