College Graduation: What it Feels Like to Be Along for the Ride


I take in the oh-so familiar tone, pitch, and volume of the voice of my daughter’s voice on the other end of the phone. I feel my body tense, wondering if the call will resemble the recent ones—the ones during which the angst of my soon-to-be college graduate grappling with all sorts of uncomfortable unknowns and what-ifs often triggers my reactive anxiety, leading me to say the exact “wrong” things in my responses to her.College graduation and the ride that parents have taken with their kids

“Mom?!” She says again, as I take a deep breath. “Will there be tears or anger?” I ask myself.  “A report of a job rejection? Frustration about something I neglected to do for the upcoming college graduation weekend?” I wonder silently, attempting to ready myself.

“Oh hi, honey!” I reply with an over-inflection of positivity. “How are you?”

There is a pause. An exhale. Her exhale. I can feel that this call is different.

“Soph?” I ask with of concern. “You all right?”

“This is so crazy! I am on my way to my last test as a college student,” she says slowly, her voice filled with reflection, joy, and awe.

I hear her breathing become quicker and can envision her walking briskly across the beautiful campus that she has called home for the past four years.

“And it is so beautiful outside. It’s warm and the trees are blossoming…they look so pretty! I have been taking pictures.”

I can feel her smile.

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A lump forms in my throat as I try to reply. “Sophie. I am so glad you are taking this all in. And I am so happy you called me.”

I yearned to linger in this nostalgic moment with her for as long as I could.

And there I was, back in the parking lot of her freshman dorm four years prior, a tearful mess, where she taught me how to say goodbye; and then back home as we did the push-pull dance, trying to find the right beat to our mother/college daughter rhythm. And I was back in the throes of some very difficult times, scary times we’ve had and the many, many happy times. Four years. Poof!

“Mom, I gotta go! Love you!” she says with the beautiful spark that had been missing in many of our recent conversations back in her voice.

“I love you, Soph! Good luck on your test! See you in three days for graduation! I am so proud of you!” I say hastily, not certain that she caught my last sentence.

And I am back to that lump in my throat, which releases as my eyes fill with tears. But they are not tears of sadness. They are tears of overwhelming gratitude. For while I do serve as an occasional dumping ground for my daughter’s angst that often comes out all sorts of sideways (apple>tree), I am grateful that she also invites me in to her soulful moments. The moments that reach far past the outside noise and connect the two of us in our unbreakable bond.

The voice I had just heard on the other end of the phone, 650 miles away, showed no sign of worry about the job she does not yet have or fear about her unknown future. This time I heard my daughter’s strong, spirited, and hopeful voice reaching for her mom, inviting her to walk with her, even for just a few steps, toward yet another one of her life’s transitions.


When Your Daughter Calls: “I Want To Let You Know I’m Ok, But..”

Wimpy Mom’s Guide to Letting Go of College Bound Children 

College Graduation Gifts Your Off-to-Work Kids Will Love 

About Julie Burton

Julie Burton is a mother of four, a wellness expert, speaker, and award-winning author of The Self-Care Solution: A Modern Mother’s Must-Have Guide to Health and Well-Being.You can connect with Julie on her website,, on Facebookor twitter and instagram.

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