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It’s amazing to me that I’m writing this as a mom of a senior.
Back in the spring, I marveled that I was a mom of a prom-attendee. Junior year went by so quickly, and if the way time flew by last year is any indicator, senior year will be gone in a flash. In the past, I’ve never really wished for time to slow down. In general, I’ve found that I’ve enjoyed each new stage of parenting more than the last. However, this fall, it feels a bit different.
While getting to know many students and parents (especially moms) over the years, I’ve discovered that none of us are the same. Shocking, I know! It isn’t revolutionary that we all have different parenting styles. But what is interesting to me is how we all emotionally process various ages and stages in different ways! Some mothers stand at the end of the driveway and sob their eyes out when the school bus drives their babies away for the first time. Some long for the cuddly toddler years when their little ones loved to read books and sing songs. Still others want to head back to that sweet spot in elementary school. You know the one I mean; when they are totally self-sufficient, yet haven’t quite developed the sass that makes us collectively question our parenting styles all through middle school.
But I don’t experience these longings like some other moms. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy each of these stages. I did! I remember each of them with joy and amazement! It’s just that I am always looking ahead. For better or worse. I always have my eyes a little down the road. More specifically, I tend to get tied up in how what’s happening today affects what is happening tomorrow.
And here I am, a mom of a senior, looking ahead down the road and I’m seeing that this section of road I’m on is ending. It’s like a huge MERGE sign is warning me that in half a mile, this little road we’ve been driving on for all these years is about to be swallowed up by the interstate.
Between you and me, in theory, I’m ok with this.
We’ve been talking about college and life after high school, dorm rooms, new friends and relationships, budgeting – all of it – for so long, that I feel like it’s totally natural and we’re ready for this next stage to just get here already. I mean, parents-of-seniors, are you with me here? Enough talk – let’s do this already!
But recently, like a warning light on the dashboard, things have been catching me off guard, and I feel like I want to rewind time a little. I want to go back and redo some stuff. Re-teach some lessons, review some important life skills, maybe just spend a bit more time together…. Sadly, there is no rewind button on life.
The honest-to-goodness truth is this: my kid isn’t totally ready to launch.
Here’s another truth: yours probably isn’t either.
Listen; at nine months old, when most kids were still trying to figure out crawling, mine was running. In pre-K at age 3, mine could read full sentences while others didn’t know letters. And this trend continued throughout the story of her life. However, there are things that your kid mastered long before mine!
Isn’t that so true of us, too – even now as adults? I have cheesecake baking down pat and also, I am really good at being kind to the meanest person. Maybe you struggle with boiled water and easily fly off the handle. However, I can’t seem to make a smoothie that tastes good to save my life, and also, I cry when people hurt my feelings and I take everything too personally.
My point is this: None of us have arrived, and God isn’t finished with us yet. And the same is true of our kids. I’ve been meditating this week on a quote I read. I wish I could conclusively determine the author. It says, “You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously.” I think that just beautifully sums up how God sees us, and our kids, so well. I am his handiwork, his special creation, made in his image, an absolute masterpiece. I am also a work in progress, nowhere near holy or great or even good. And yet somehow, he loves me and meets me just where I am. He even delights in me. Think how he must delight in our children as well, even now, just as they are.
I get to spend my days at EC as a staff member, a friend, a mentor, a mother, a helper, and as a child of God. I see all of your kids, especially if they are in their senior year. I know they aren’t all ‘there’ yet. But I also see others like me, here to hold them accountable, to partner with you as we run this last leg of the journey together. I see teachers pushing them to finish strong, and staff and administration who also delight in them and care about them (even when your kids fail to see this side of us). I see counselors who spend their days figuring out how to best support your family in this next stage of life.
Moms and dads, if you are like me and you are staring down senior year, or if it all just feels like it’s coming too fast or things are not where you wish they were, let me support you in saying, I understand. I get it. And I’m here with you as we take these next steps together. As a school district, we’ve been preparing for this moment all along! It might have snuck up on you, but it didn’t for us. So use us. Call us. Partner with us and trust us to help you.
Feel confident your kids are finishing in the right spot, surrounded by people who are rooting for them and cheering them on! Maybe, this year, they will take leaps and bounds in the places where they need to grow. Maybe they’ll need a little more time. Both are fine, because we are all a work in progress! Just remember, we are also all masterpieces!
As for you and me, maybe we can cheer each other on this year. I could use the encouragement, and I’m guessing so could you! So let’s finish strong together, and in June, when we take our seats in the auditorium and our kids walk down the aisle in their caps and gowns, we can be a community. We can look around the room knowing we supported each other well and loved each other’s kids. I can’t think of any way I’d rather have my daughter say goodbye to this place than to be in a room surrounded by people who have cared for one another.
Cheers to senior year! Let’s make it a great one!