While graduation brings the end of school, kindergarten through twelve, it also opens the door to new growth and challenges in what has been called, "the real world" in college or a job. It brings to the graduate a time to let go of where he’s been “comfortable” and begin a new life with exciting adventures and endless possibilities. As a parent, graduation also means letting go. Even though this process has been on going for many years, the fact remains, it never comes easy to cut the apron strings.
When my oldest daughter neared her senior year, I considered her numerous achievements, difficulties and hard work. While looking through the scores of papers I had collected from those passing years, I wished for a way to record them permanently.
I finally decided on making a “graduation quilt.” I began by choosing one accomplishment from each year and transferred as completely as possible the memory onto a twelve inch square piece of muslin (a favorite picture she drew, her first love letter, mascots, awards, etc.) I then embroidered each of these squares, as closely as possible to the original and put them together, with other blocks in between, and created a queen size quilt.
Working on this quilt gave me the opportunity to remember and begin to really let her go toward her new world that would not only no longer revolve around her father and me, but thrust her into a world that could separate us by hundreds, if not thousands, of miles. She would be entering a world of her own decision making, living where she chose, and following her dreams to success, where ever that might lead her.
Tears flowed as I neared the end of her quilt: tears of joy, sorrow and yet cleansing. Her father and I had raised her into a knowledgeable, independent adult. It was time to allow that growth to widen beyond our parental focus.
Tears flowed again when she opened her gift following graduation; both hers and mine: tears of love, sadness and excitement at the opportunities and challenges before her. As I worked on her sibling’s quilts, each unique since they all had unique classes and experiences, I was once again afforded the time to remember, the opportunity to dream their dreams and the means to begin readying my maternal instincts to let go.
Perhaps you have no desire to make a quilt, but it is still a good time, even though it’s only the beginning of the year, to consider how special your graduate is. Remember their accomplishments, their struggles, and dreams, and perhaps you can create a scrapbook or other “memory saver” to share with your special young adult, even as you work through your own emotions of, letting go.