School came to an end just last week, and as my high school seniors entered my classroom, their eyes were dancing with excitement and wonder. They are about to enter a totally new stage of their life, and I can’t help but ponder what they will become and how their lives will change as they embark on this brave journey.
I remember being their age, and thinking about things so differently. I thought I had it all figured out. My dad would often joke that as I grew older, he somehow got smarter. But that’s how it happens. “Parents just don’t understand” turns into, “What would mom and dad say?” Experience is the best teacher, and we all figure that out (eventually).
Signing yearbooks this year, I find myself sounding like a broken record — “be brave.”
So many kids cling to the familiar and fear venturing out on their own. We raise them to leave. We raise them to fly from the nest and soar — successfully — on their own.
My yearbook advice works for high school seniors, but I think it also works for mothers in all of the stages of motherhood. The words are the same. But the meaning goes a lot deeper. Being brave as a mother takes on a lot of different forms, and it varies for all of us.
Some days, bravery means doing the big things in the big ways. And some days it takes bravery just to do the little things. But I want to encourage you — be brave!
Take the kids out on your own.
Get the big cart at Target and bravely push it into the air conditioned land of wonder, regardless of the myriad of questions or demands your children are fielding at you. Even if your kid is screaming bloody murder keep your head held high and be brave. You did it. You survived.
Go out on a girl’s night or take a trip with friends.
Be brave — your kids will be just fine with the person you deemed worthy of watching them, whether it be your husband, mother, or cousin. They need to learn to be away from you sometimes, and you need to learn to be away from them. They may not take a bath at precisely 7 pm, but the bath will happen, and they will be okay. You will be okay.
Try on that dress.
You’ve been eyeing it, but have been telling yourself it isn’t your style anymore. You may surprise yourself. It may not look like you envisioned, but you did it. Hey, it may even look better than you thought! You can do it. You will be brave.
Ask for help if you need it.
This is brave. Some days are overwhelming, and you just need help. It doesn’t mean you are any less on that day than on the day that you don’t need help.
It means you are human. It means you don’t always know all the answers — and that is okay. That is brave.
My graduating seniors will be entering these stages in life sooner than they realize. My only hope is that they take heed, and know there is bravery in the everyday. There is bravery in adulthood. There is bravery in experience.
There is bravery in being unequivocally, unabashedly themselves.