Our family is celebrating a major milestone this week with our firstborn–he is graduating from high school. I think back on how at times the years seemed to creep by, but now that I have more of an “aerial view” on his childhood and years spent in school, I can’t help but do a double-take wondering how we got here so quickly.

I’ll be honest, my heart is beaming with pride, but also aching, as I know he is on the verge of spreading his wings and flying. Our son will be a proud graduate of the Class of 2019 from Davie County High School. He joins many other alumni of Davie High who have a very unique connection — they will always be War Eagles.

Mason has worked hard in school and made us proud of his determination and commitment to reach his dreams and goals. In August, we will help him fulfill one of his dreams by moving him to Raleigh where he will attend N.C. State University majoring in Computer Science Engineering. We have no doubt he will do great things.

As we edge closer to a new beginning for our son, I find myself getting caught off guard by emotion. One of my resolutions at the beginning of 2019 was to do my very best to make sure he knows how much he is loved before leaving for college. That may seem silly to many, but it has been a constant reminder for me to show grace and love to him when our days having him at home “full-time” are numbered.

This boy of ours makes me beam with pride. I’ll be honest, I am a little sad, but that sadness is shadowed by the excitement I have knowing his future is limitless. I’ve spent some time over the last few weeks gathering sentimental items to help celebrate this special occasion, but also given lots of thought on what I hope Mason “rides off into the sunset” knowing.  Mason this is for you.

As the oldest, you were the kid we ‘cut our teeth on’ parenting with.
We did some things right in the parenting department, and I’ll be the first to admit, we made some mistakes.  I know things may have seemed unfair or made no sense at times when we were navigating your childhood and teen years, but I hope you know that God gave you as our first because he knew that through it all, you would teach us as much as we taught you.

Parenting you has been one of our biggest joys.
You drove us crazy, and we drove you crazy sometimes.  But, that was all part of figuring out this growing up thing and going through it together has reminded me of how very blessed we are to have you as a son.

Please take care of yourself.
I think you will because you’ve always been a person with high expectations.  Don’t forget that in order for you to be the best version of yourself (for you and for others), you need to take care of yourself.  Try to eat well, get some exercise, don’t get in the habit of staying up all night and don’t sleep the day away.  I’ve known for a long time that you have big goals–taking caring of yourself is gonna be necessary for you to achieve them!

I hope you’ll remember where you came from.
Wherever you go and whatever you do, I hope you’ll always remember where you came from and who is here cheering you on.  You’ve grown up in community where people know one another and believe in helping each other.  Your family will ALWAYS be here for you.  Go and do great things but remember where home is.

Live your own life.
I’m NOT saying that you should be selfish.  I AM saying that you should choose the path that will make you happy and allow you to achieve your dreams.  Don’t live the dream that someone else thinks you should live.  You have one earthly life–choose the path for your life that will fulfill you, but also remind yourself to be grateful, humble and kind.  You are a smart young man–use your head and listen to your heart (and your gut).

Dream big and go for it.
Don’t be afraid to dream big and think outside of the box.  Sometimes a bit of willingness to take that risk can pay off in big ways.  Sure, play it safe to a degree but don’t be afraid to give something a shot–especially if it feels right in your gut (if you haven’t already noticed, your dad and I both believe in trusting our gut).  Again, you’re a smart boy and you’ve inherited good “gut-sense”….listen to it.

Wisdom is all around you–take advantage of it.
None of us know it all.  Regardless of how old you get, there is always someone who has more life experience and ultimately, wisdom.  Don’t ever be afraid to seek wisdom from someone you respect.  The times in life where big decisions are at stake, it never hurts to get a second opinion–but make sure it comes from someone you trust and consider to be wise.

If you’ve never heard the song, My Wish, by Rascal Flatts, I hope you’ll listen to it.  This entire year leading up to graduation has been a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions, but this song really does sum up what my wish for you is.

“My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to. Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small — you never need to carry more than you can hold. And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to, I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too. Yeah, this, is my wish.”

I’ll always be your biggest fan.
Love, Mom

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