I said I was going to be strong and that it "probably wasn't going to bother me." I guess I was wrong. Watching my youngest son walk across the stage and receive his diploma at his high-school graduation was one of the most difficult things I've had to do and it was all because of a slightly sunburned face.

Not to sound cliche, but in "the blink of an eye", my youngest son, Troy, went from being the little boy that always had a sparkle in his eye with a smile on his slightly sunburned face to a young man with the same sparkle in his eye (although with a different purpose) but still that slightly sunburned face.

It seems that for years I've been dreaming of being an "empty-nester". I've joked with my friends that my husband and I were finally going to be able to be adults - not just parents. Visions of taking weekend getaways with my husband and not having to worry about someone watching the boys, or as they entered high school, if there was a party going on at home, seemed to cloud my vision of what was really about to happen.

But when I walked into the Tea Area High School gym on that Sunday afternoon, it was hard to contain my emotions. (Even as I write this, I start to get teary-eyed.) The strong-willed mom that I had plans on being, quickly melted into one of my many crumbly-white tissues I continuously pulled from my pocket.

As soon as the "Pomp and Circumstance" began, and my son Troy passed by with a huge smile on his slightly-sunburned face, I realized that he had become a man with hopes and dreams that were gained by the strength that I had once given him on his first day of school.

As my heart continues to heal from the realization that in just two short months I will watch him continue to walk with strength, but this time carrying boxes of his things to his dorm room, I know that I have done my job of being a Mom to the best of my ability, and can only trust that he will make the right decisions in his life. But I also know that as his life is changing, my life will change, too, but for the better - and not because I'm going to be an "empty-nester". It will change for the better because I know I raised a smart young man that is now standing on his own to face the world.

But again, when I say that watching my son graduate from high school was one of the most difficult things that I've had to do, I blame that slightly sunburned face. Why? Because no matter how much he enjoys college at St. Cloud State University and no matter where his plans take him in the future, that slightly sunburned face will always remind me that he will forever be my little boy.

Tammy KIKN

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