High School Grad Thanks His Mom for Her 50 Life Lessons

Like most moms during graduation season, I wiped the tears from my eyes while scratching my head, wondering where the time had gone. But, I also looked back with some sadness on the years I’d wasted trying to mold my son into my idea of success, instead of accepting the amazing person that he is.

50 life lessons a mom taught her son

High school son thanks his mom

Jonathan, my middle child, graduated from high school last May.  He’s 6’3 and 190 pounds, but it seems like yesterday that he was scampering into my bed to escape the rumble of a thunderstorm.

When Jonathan was a child, his imagination was off the charts. Even though he didn’t read until 3rd grade, he was inquisitive, insightful and an impressive communicator. I always figured school would be a breeze  for him. But it wasn’t. At least not in the way I thought it should be. Not because he wasn’t smart or intuitive or creative, but because of my own rigid view of how I thought he should be.

He always loved being read to. When he was able, he became an avid reader himself, devouring several books a week. When he wasn’t reading, he  created detailed imaginary worlds accompanied by intriguing story lines. One day, he picked up a computer and declared that he wanted to be a writer, which was fine with me as long as he excelled in the areas I thought were important.

I continued to pressure him to excel in those subjects I thought were imperative to his success. He’s smart, funny, and talented and can change the atmosphere of a room simply by entering it. People clamor to be around him even though he’s somewhat quiet and introverted.

As his senior year approached, I panicked and worked overtime to smash him into the mold I’d imagined for him. But, he just wouldn’t fit. Shortly before he graduated, I was at a low point. I felt like a failure. He was average in math, at best, and had absolutely no interest in chemistry.

When he handed me a letter shortly before graduation, as his words sank into my heart, I realized how misguided I’d been all those years. His letter wasn’t full of mathematical formulas, chemical equations or complex literary analyses. It was full of the things that make him who he is. It was full of the reasons I love him and the life lessons he had learned along the way. 

My son thanked me for teaching him these 50 life lessons:

  1. How to love
  2. How to hug
  3. How to say thank you
  4. How to say please
  5. How to spell tongue by saying “ton-gyou” in my head
  6. How to ride my bike
  7. How to treat girls
  8. How to say “I love you” in sign language
  9. How to talk
  10. How to take a punch
  12. How to eat at the table
  13. Proper hygiene
  14. How to wash clothes
  15. How to make eggs
  16. How to spell Wednesday by saying “Wed-nes-day” in my head
  18. How to respect authority
  19. How to challenge authority when need be
  20. HOW TO DANCE (Jan-Brady style)
  21. How to spell
  22. How to push myself
  23. How to prioritize tasks
  24. How to protect myself from being kidnapped
  25. How to act in public situations
  26. How to greet people
  27. How to say goodbye
  28. How to think critically
  29. Why it is important to think critically
  30. How to take notes
  31. How to write a 5-paragraph essay
  32. How to take tests
  33. Why I should be proud to be an American
  34. How to tie my shoes
  35. How to act when I find myself in an uncomfortable situation
  36. How to clean my room
  37. How to wash dishes
  38. How to say I’m sorry
  39. How to forgive someone
  40. How to not go with the crowd
  41. How to have a relationship with Christ.
  42. Why it is important to have a competitive spirit
  43. How to learn from my failure
  44. How to be generous
  45. How to be patient
  46. How to have a degree of self-control
  47. How to never let people walk over me
  48. How to write
  49. How to be the best person I can be and not accept second best
  50. Why I am the luckiest guy on the planet because I have the privilege to call you my mother

Somehow, when I wasn’t looking, he’d developed into a kind young man of character and great focus, and I’d missed it. Sure, I’d caught glimpses along the way, but I could have enjoyed so much more if I hadn’t been blinded by my idea of who he should be.

As I wiped the tears from my cheeks  and looked up into the eyes of a handsome, independent, gentle young man, I realized that he’s everything  I could’ve wished for in a son and more. And, there he was, all wrapped up in one amazing  package. In fact, he’d been there all along.

My years of badgering hadn’t shaped him into the young man I’d wanted him to be. Despite me, he’d become the young man he was destined to be and he had  everything he needed to be a success.


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About Sheila Qualls

Former journalist turned SAHM Sheila Qualls blogs to encourage, entertain and educate wives and mommas through a window of humor and transparency. She shares her life’s lessons collected over 30 years of marriage, 5 kids, home schooling, 10 corporate moves, two dogs and a ferret. (May they rest in peace.) Her life is real. Sometimes it’s not pretty, but it’s always honest. After having kids, she’s learned to look at the world from a less serious perspective. She and her family live in Minnesota. Three of her five children are now in college. You can find Sheila at The Not So Excellent Wife

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