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Motherhood, Graduation, and Letting Go

Every year around this time, someone comes out with a study that tallies up the monetary worth of motherhood. But that's silly, I think, as the real work of motherhood can't be measured in dollars and cents.

It's true that we moms do tons of laundry- probably literally. We cook. Three meals a day times eighteen years (give or take) is a heck of a lot dishes. Children are messy and loud and always need a permission slip signed and a ride somewhere. There are days when crawling into bed right after you get your munchkins to sleep seems like the best idea you've had in days. Maybe weeks.

In the end, however, motherhood isn't about our domestic abilities, but in the responsibility we have to our children. There is no instant replay in parenthood; no second chances if we screw it up the first time around. There are endless choices for us to make, some trivial, many not. We are the choosers of our children's paths until they are old and responsible enough to choose on their own.

That's the ultimate irony of motherhood, perhaps; we spend so many years being necessary for every single thing in our child's world when our ultimate goal is to not be needed…on a daily basis, that is. You always need your Mom.

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My oldest son is graduating from college on Mother's Day, and I anticipate joining more than a few mothers in the audience shedding tears as we watch our children march to Pomp and Circumstance. As incredibly proud of him as I am- almost ridiculously so- I'm relieved, too.

When I brought him home from the hospital, I was terrified I'd kill him through my ignorance. What did I know about being a mother? Would I ever be able to live up to the responsibility?

Come graduation day, I'll officially turn it all over to him. And yet, I keep wanting to insert a slew of advice in his graduation note, as if to get in one last bit before stepping back and letting him learn life's lessons all on his own.

Wash your hands often. Always say please and thank you. Be respectful of your elders. When you make a mistake, admit it and apologize. Hands are not for hurting. No means no. Appreciate the gifts you've been given. Be generous. Remember that we're all the same inside, except for White Sox fans, who are obviously aliens from another planet. Don't drink and drive. Don't get into a car when the driver has been drinking. Keep current with the news. Make time to read for pleasure. Treasure your friends. Temper trust with caution. Love unconditionally.

Work hard. Be happy. Have fun.

That will be the very best Mother's Day gift of all.

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