How long has it been now? Ten years?! Time sure does fly by! I have attended quite a few graduation ceremonies recently, and it’s triggered many memories of you. Seeing so many high school seniors with wide smiles full of promise and hope has reminded me of the way you were. Strong, quiet, resilient.
You had a no-failure attitude and a need to be successful in all that you attempted. I was proud of you. The way you approached the podium with a sense of purpose when you made your valedictorian speech… I will always remember that moment. You stood there with your neck adorned with medals and honor cords, your words touching on your accomplishments and your goals. “We will succeed in all that we do” was the mantra you echoed to your classmates. You spoke of a future in which you would reach your goals, both professionally and personally, without the possibility of failure.
You were wrong.
In the last ten years, you have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. After graduation, you attended your first choice university only to discover it wasn’t the right fit. You were rejected the first year you applied to graduate school. You made financial mistakes and became a seriously indebted college student. You struggled to maintain friendships with the classmates you once shared dreams with. You questioned your faith, your sanity and your marriage. But there is one aspect of your life that will make you doubt your ability and worth the most: motherhood.
Trust me, you will not be the perfect, Pinterest-using mom (you’ll understand this reference in a few years). You will stumble with many things, including juggling your career and time with your family. There will be nights when you will hold your son while he cries and you will not know what to do except cry with him. You will be riddled with guilt when you spend time away from him. You will face post-partum depression and very complicated emotions. You will forever change the way you view your body and sexuality. You will doubt the way you discipline your child and many decisions you make regarding his well-being. You will wonder if you’re doing anything right.
You will feel like a failure. And that’s okay.
Throughout your series of hits and misses, you will also undoubtedly reach many of your aspirations. You will attend an even better college than your first choice (Hook ’em Horns!). You will one day graduate with a master’s degree, even if it’s a little further in the timeline than expected. You will reclaim your financial independence, and you will own a beautiful home. You will create lifelong connections with a wonderful group of supportive friends. You will have a hardworking and loyal-to-a-fault husband. And most importantly, you will have a beautiful son who will show you what it is to be a mother.
You will understand that you learn more from your failures than your successes, and you will be at peace with your mistakes and the decisions you make for yourself and your family. The degrees and honors you will earn from eighteen to twenty eight years old will be hanging on your office wall and you will be proud to display them, but you will be prouder of the little face that will greet you every morning. You will tell everyone when he takes his first steps and learns to count to ten.
Your greatest treasure and accomplishment will be a little boy who will teach you more about life and love than any degree ever could.
You have a long road ahead of you. You will walk out of your graduation and meet a big, big world. But please know that as life goes on and you experience both good and bad, you will always be okay. You will emerge ten years later as a professional, a wife, and a mother, still full of promise and hope. Still strong, quiet, and resilient.
See you in the mirror and love always,