Transitions, Tears, and Tassels


By Susan Upham

In 11 days my oldest and only son will be graduating from high school and I’m a wreck. I know I’ve had many years to prepare for this moment. How it’s possible that after 57 book reports, 2,520 peanut butter sandwiches, (that’s 36 weeks x 7 years x 5 days x 2 sandwiches per day—I only counted since 6th grade), endless miles to-and-from school, truckloads of wet towels left on the bathroom floor and countless lost mechanical pencils, this fact catches me off guard, I’m not entirely sure. I can’t help it. I tear Susan Uphamup about everything: little boys holding their mommy’s hand walking across the street, emails sent home from the school telling you it’s time to order your child’s cap and gown, college acceptance letters, old doodles found in my Bible of a burning truck (John went through a fire stage). Folgers commercials nearly send me sobbing into my pillow, and forget about looking through baby albums. I know, it’s ridiculous and I need to get over it. I figure by the time my fourth child graduates I’ll be way over it.

So, what is God teaching me in this period of transition? The same thing the nurse told me when I gave birth to my 4th child: “Wow. You’re really a control freak.” She figured out in between pushes what I have come to know and really not like about myself: I do want to have control and when I feel like I don’t, I become unnecessarily anxious. Instead of trusting the Lord, I try to control that which He already has under His most capable control. The Lord is teaching me anew something that a dear friend of mine told me years ago:  my children are NOT my own. They are His. And so, as I fret about the friends my son will make at college, whether or not he’ll eat right, sleep right, live right; I must trust the One who has been his true parent all along: his Heavenly Father. Truth is, I suspect that once I’m out of the way, John will flourish and flounder, suffer and soar. He will, by God’s immeasurable grace, come to know God as his All in All, his Truest Friend and His Strong Tower. This is my hope and prayer.

So, I still have a lot of crying left to do before he turns that tassel to the other side. My daughters have already told me they do not want to sit by me at graduation because I’ll embarrass them with all my tears and tissues. I say fine, but they will be graduating in a few years too and I think they’d be embarrassed if they didn’t have a mom sobbing on the front row because she loved them so much.

(Editor’s Note: At by design, it is our mission to train women to serve and influence others for Christ. I hope this edition of Woman to Woman helps you do just that. If so, please share this with the important women in your life. You can sign up to receive the Woman to Woman eNewsletter before it is available on the blog. 

This year we are reprising some of our favorite Summer Sampler articles from previous years. This article was originally published in 2012.) 

Susan Upham is a full-time mom and Music and Drama Teacher throughout the area, including the non-profit organization, Apple Tree Arts in Grafton, MA where she teaches private voice, piano and drama to ages K-12.  She lives in Westborough, MA with her husband and daughter.  She enjoys reading, singing, gardening, cooking, photography, boating and mentoring the young women in her life.  Her three older children have now “passed the tassel” and are living on their own, and in two years her youngest will graduate.   She is learning that parenting young adults requires a whole new way of trusting God.