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As Mother’s Day nears and we prepare to celebrate all moms, let’s give a special shout out to those moms whose nests are about to become a bit less full in the coming months.

Here’s some advice for these amazing moms of soon-to-be high school grads:

  1. Embrace the mixture of emotions. While you may have been expecting a profound sense of accomplishment and relief as your child nears the end of high school and makes a final decision about the direction in which to head, a combination of emotions such as sadness, joy, loss, pride, worry, excitement, uncertainty, and even disappointment can be quite common. Let yourself feel the feelings but don’t get stuck within them. Lean on moms who are going through the same situation and reach out to those who have been there. Know that you are not alone, and these feelings will pass in time.
  2. Reflect on and celebrate all that you’ve done to provide your soon-to-be high school graduate with both roots and wings. You certainly have put in both the effort and the love through the years and evidence of that is clear to see. Recognize what a terrific job you’ve done especially under sometimes challenging circumstances. You did what you set out to do and your child has become a quite capable young adult with a strong foundation and wings to fly. Celebrate how far you have both come.
  3. Make time for some relaxation. It’s quite likely that college tours, applications, testing, admissions decisions, and the roller coaster of emotions experienced by your child throughout the final years of high school during a worldwide pandemic may have left you a bit depleted. You’ve earned some time to rest!
  4. Savor the “lasts” and look forward to the many “firsts” that await you and your student. As you approach a wide range of “lasts” (such as last school dance, last sporting event, last performance, last awards banquet, and so on), savor, versus dread, each of them. Try to enjoy these moments and keep an open mind as you look forward to the many wonderful “firsts” that are just around the corner.
  5. Recognize the priceless and multi-faceted role you’ve played as a mom. You’ve likely been a combination of your family’s commander-in-chief, chief education officer, head of planning and analysis, chief medical officer, and chief operating officer. Further, as the center of the family, as the glue that has kept it all together, you’ve been the preferred shoulder to cry on, lap to sit on and ear to turn to. As such, you’ve been your family’s caregiver-in-chief. If a single mom or a mom with minimal support from a partner, you’ve been on double duty. Whatever the structure of your family, as a mom, you’ve been at the heart of it all. Take some time to let the extent of your contributions sink in.
  6. Come to peace with having been less than perfect. Much can be, and likely has been, learned from less-than-ideal situations and outcomes through the years. Try not to over-scrutinize or laser focus on balls that got dropped or situations that did not go well. For every one thing that went wrong, hundreds likely went right. Keep your eye on the totality of your parent/child experience versus focusing too harshly on particular experiences that you or your child regret. Give yourself and others some grace.
  7. Keep holding on. You’ve made it this far. While you may be holding your breath, holding back the tears, or holding on by just a thread, just keep holding on as it will be worth it. There’s a light at the end of this tunnel.
  8. Have confidence it will all work out even if you still have some doubts. We are never fully certain of anything and unexpected changes in direction can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. After all, uncertainty represents the existence of countless possibilities. Rest in the confidence that no matter the exact outcome of particular circumstances that may be of concern to you right now, the future will be bright. Spoiler alert: It will be!
  9. Begin to dream. As you get ready for your child to soar, get ready for your own dreams to set sail as well. You are both about to enter a transformative period of growth and possibilities. As your child embarks on their adult life, you are embarking on a new chapter as well. Begin to give some thought to how you’d like that to look and start to envision what that may entail.
  10. Do what you most desire this Mother’s Day and enjoy whatever it is. As a mom, you often defer to the preferences of others in your family and put your desires on the back burner. Consider making this Mother’s Day “your” day—as it certainly is.


Patricia A. Roberts is a motivational speaker, writer, and veteran of the college savings industry. She has led college savings initiatives at premier financial services organizations like Merrill Lynch and AllianceBernstein, and has authored Route 529: A Parent’s Guide to Saving for College and Career Training with 529 Plans. In her current role as COO at Gift of College, she promotes 529 plans as a financial wellness benefit in the workplace.