Graduation has come and gone. What a whirlwind indeed. The past 18 years with my daughter flew by. It is cliché, the time flying thing. But for real.

When you get your kids through high school, it is a sense of accomplishment. Yes! We did it. We meaning I (and we) as parents take some of the credit. Not all the credit, but okay…some. To see a bright future for your child or children is a good thing. It is meant to be.

Back to the actual graduation party. Whew! I mean, my gosh A LOT of planning. For a girl. Mine, that is. We tackled color schemes, center pieces and a menu. I remember high school graduation for my son, throwing pulled pork in a roaster and calling it good. But nope, we have themes now and hypnotists and…wow!

I love it all, the fun ideas and the different foods to serve—but gosh, when did graduation completely go off the rails and out of control?

Control! Interesting word. I have pondered that a lot during my daughter’s high school career, both kids actually. When do we, as parents, start to give up that control and watch our children gain freedom and independence?

I recently heard a story of a mom who was texting coaches frequently during her daughter’s sports season. I thought-oh boy—that lady likes control. It is more than that I think. It is possibly trying to relive her life through her kids. Maybe it is an over protective mama bear really coming off like a pit bull. Is it wrong or right? I don’t know. I lean more towards no. Unless there is a major fire to put out, leave it alone. Let it be your kid’s experience. Texting a coach about playing time or about coaching “things” is big…N-O!

The control thing, it is hard. I was faced with allowing our 18-year-old drive to Omaha with friends for state track. On her own, checking into a hotel too. What!!! No way, I am not going to have that. Then the voice, “Give up control already.”  Trust. Freedom.

Oh crap, I don’t like this. I never ever want my kids to drive on the interstate. Never go to Omaha or Lincoln. Is that asking too much?

Okay. The control thing I mentioned above – here we go. First of all—I fully trust her and her friends. That wasn’t the issue. It is about the freaks out there I don’t trust. We all have those thoughts. Especially in today’s world.

We let her go—and I prayed. I asked her to check in with me every 32 seconds. All of those things that I don’t think are out of the question. All was fine and they arrived at every destination safe and sound. Establishing more confidence and more independence along the way.

Again, stupid word…control. She will go to college four hours away, leaving us to find a new normal as empty nesters. Good thing we like each other and enjoy hanging out. Trying new restaurants is fun. Heck, we are considering the river float, rafting idea. True adventurists here.

Every phase in life has pros and cons. Losing that control as our kids gain independence is tough. All positive. I have said before, I am super excited to see what lies ahead for our kids. Our son will graduate college next year and plans to student teach. His first teaching job around the corner. I envision us helping him settle into his own apartment or new home.

I also envision taking our daughter to college in August and having her meet a new group of friends and loving the campus life. Again, all positive and all meant to be.

We do, and I am guilty of getting too wrapped up in our kid’s lives that sometimes we lose our own identity. We maybe forget who we are or start to become more aware of our goals and dreams. Oh yeah and our spouse, our lifelong partner to discover new adventures with. What is that song? ”Let it Go.”  A whole new world awaits. Here we go.


Renae Zimmer

My name is Renae Riddle Zimmer. I was born in Iowa and raised in Nebraska. I am a Midwest girl. I married my high school sweetheart, Dave Zimmer and raised two awesome kids. Nolan, 21 and Kamryn, 17. As we approach our empty nest years—we reflect a lot on our life—our kids—and being a part of the “sandwich” generation as well. Taking care of teenagers and aging parents. All the joys and difficulties that are ahead. We are solid in our faith—solid in our family and we love each other, support each other. I work a corporate job and travel. My husband is an educator and coach. We love to cook, garden, landscape, watch sports and enjoy our kids activities. We follow up college-age son as he runs cross country and track for Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Mo. And support our daughter as she is in the last year of high school . Where did the time go?