While attending a local high school graduation ceremony recently, the role parents play in the lives of their children came into sharp focus. It was a truly defining moment, one that I shall not soon forget.

Following the principle’s opening words of welcome; the students that had received scholarships spoke briefly. One common denominator united them: They thanked their parents for “all the love,” “for all the encouragement,” “for always being there,” “for the great example,” “for setting high standards for yourselves and me,” “for being an awesome role model.”  Applause followed each as he or she stepped off the stage.

The last person to speak was the class valedictorian. She took the microphone in her hand, looked across the sea of faces in the packed auditorium, and then asked, “Mom and Dad, where are you?” Scanning the crowd, but not finding them, she repeated her question, “Where are you, Mom and Dad?”

Two people stood up. Their daughter, beaming said, “Audience, I would like to introduce you to my parents. I have asked them to stand along with me because I would not be up here today if it had not been for them. And now I would like everyone to give them a big round of applause because they are the ones who deserve it more than I.” And applaud they did – with such vivacity that it seemed as if the noble efforts of parents everywhere were being honored.

Parenting. This most scared duty cannot be understated. Of this I am convinced: the firm foundation of a parent’s deeply rooted commitment to his or her children may also be the springboard that launches those children to new heights. The effort to teach our young all that is good and true and worthy will bear fruit in season as surely as New England cherry trees open beneath the May sunlight. The growth within our children’s souls – the product of our abiding presence and tender care – will come to bloom before us as we stand looking on in appreciation, and perhaps awe.

Maybe we, too, will hear the applause someday.

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Making the decision to have a child – it’s monentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~ ELIZABETH STONE

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