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Our Views: Grads, it's time to cut the apron strings

As you enter this uncertain world, give mom a precious gift: your independence

POSTED: May 12, 2013 12:30 a.m.

What a perfect mesh of milestones: Mothers Day and graduation, when a parent’s pride intersects with a young person’s ascent into the world as an independent adult.

Families are gathering today to celebrate the mothers, grandmothers and generations of nurturing, loving women who gave them the love and guidance they needed to succeed. Those mothers will shed tears of joy in days to come as they watch their grown babies accept their high school and college diplomas and enter the world.

There is no substitute for that level of pride a parent feels in seeing their children achieve something precious and important. But whatever achievement that diploma represents, it is just one step on a long journey for both graduates and their mothers.

In most cases, they walked hand in hand in their trek through school. How many times did mom run to the store late at night to pick up supplies for a needed project? Or scramble to the library to find the book needed for a report? Without her, most graduates would still be trying to find Greece on a globe or conjugate verbs in French.

Moms were there from kindergarten through the early grades, a fridge full of Mother’s Day hearts shaped from glued-on macaroni to show for it. They met with teachers, grimaced or grinned over report cards and notes home and beamed proudly at pageants and ballgames.

And come time for college, even as students were off spreading their social wings and basking in their newfound freedom, mom was never more than a phone call away, always waiting at the end of the semester to accept that bag of laundry and offer a home-cooked meal and a few dollars.

Graduates, you couldn’t have done it without her steady hand and support all these years. Salute the woman who made it all possible and hug her tightly after you flip your tassel and toss your hat. And after all the hoopla, the graduation gifts, dinners and parties, give her this precious gift:

Turn loose.

For the better part of two decades, the leading woman in your life has held your hand as you teetered unsteadily from youth to adolescence to adulthood. Now show her that hard work and love has paid off by proving you can stand on your own two feet.

While the efforts of mothers will always be welcomed and appreciated in academia, it’s now time for some of you to go to work, join the military or move into volunteer work. Whatever your goal may be, you’ll achieve it on your own.

When you go into that job interview, mom won’t be there to smooth your hair or straighten your tie. When you enter basic training, she can’t ask the drill instructor to go easy on you. If you have reached this point successfully, she did her job well. It’s time to make your own way.

Most mothers know how to offer the right amount of support, but still make their youngsters suffer the consequences of their actions when they mess up. That’s how we all learn to become responsible adults. Those who may cling a little too tightly at times will find their children entering a cold, cruel world that’s a little colder and crueler than they expected.

And some of their children will find themselves back home after their education is done. The “boomerang generation,” adult children still living at home, have yet to land that perfect job or find their calling. As they search for that elusive place to set their coffee cups, home remains the base of operation, delaying parents’ passage into the empty nest era.

Some of this is blamed on an economy and jobs market that has not been welcoming to graduates in recent years. That’s still the case in many industries and businesses that have trimmed their workforce to stay afloat and don’t need as many workers.

Yet the overall jobs picture is brightening and more graduates are finding opportunities in the fields of their choice, if they chose wisely and prepared effectively. Unemployment is down across the board and more industries are hiring today than when today’s grads entered college or technical school.

The opportunity is there; it’s time to seize it. Put away childish things, as stated in Corinthians I, and show your parents their efforts to raise you right were well focused. Make them proud by taking control of your own destiny.

We all show mom our love today with flowers, kisses, presents and the joy of our company. Nothing will fill her heart more, though, than knowing you turned out the way she wanted: Strong, confident, ambitious, independent, linked to your family’s past but boldly striding into the future to accomplish great things.

That’s what she wants for you and why she sacrificed so much to make it happen. Now go conquer the world, for her sake as well as your own.


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