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When you're the mom of a high school senior

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Ahhhh, senior year is winding down and I can’t help and look back at junior-mom me and think, girl- you were SO unprepared! As a first time mom of a senior, I simply wasn’t capable of looking ahead, preparing or anticipating what was to come during this milestone year. So now that I am an experienced mom of a senior, what wise advice do I have to share?

I am glad you asked….. Here are my thoughts:

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SAVE MONEY NOW!

Holy crap is senior year expensive. Let’s see, it all starts with something called senior pictures and I am still not entirely sure what these photos are actually used for! I actually think people get these professional photos simply to post on Facebook—but either way, it’s an expense. And so are proms and graduations and their after-parties and senior outings and celebratory lawn signs…. The list truly goes on and on and on…. Oh and of course, there are the costs of applying to colleges and visiting colleges and enrolling in college. It’s best to put your teen to work as soon as they are eligible and just start a senior-year fund. It will benefit everyone in the long run!

DON’T BLINK

Seriously, if you think high school goes by fast, well senior year is the quickest of all. It feels like just yesterday we were taking her last first day of school picture. I envisioned a slow-moving year of celebrations and a roller coaster of emotions and moments of stopping and smelling the roses and remembering when she was little but also sadly anticipating letting her go. None of that happened. The entire year was a massive whirlwind. I thought I would cry uncontrollably at athletic banquets and be overcome with emotion and to be honest—it hasn’t hit me yet. We have been too busy and it all has flown by and I actually feel kind-of guilty or sad or maybe it’s just numb because I have not yet processed that my daughter is fleeing the nest. I am sure it will hit at some point in the next few months, but right now, I am just trying to keep up with the hustle and bustle as I wonder where the year went. Keep your eyes wide open, moms. See and feel and experience everything with your senior. Give up sleep or the gym or your Friday night dinner-dates if you must and spend as much time as you can with your Senior…. Because the moments are few and far between and they come and go as fast as a bolt of lightning.

LET GO

Oh man, this one is hard. But do yourself a favor and before your child officially becomes an adult, make a conscious decision to let go. You have done your job and you have done it well. Now is the time for your senior to take the reins and make their own decisions and mistakes and learn the lessons (even the really hard ones) and see what life has in store for them. Your job now is to give advice when asked, listen often, and love and support above all else. Send the message to your senior: I believe in you and you can do this (whatever it is) without me and send it loud and clear! They need confidence and independence and love and support to thrive as an adult. Even if you don’t like what they are wearing or disagree with their top choice for college or think their boyfriend needs to go—let them figure it out on their own. They will survive and grow, I promise you. If you grasp too tightly to that which you cannot control, you will drive yourself nuts. Let go, now. Let go, slowly. Let go one finger at a time if you must… but let them fly, friends.

THEY WILL PUSH YOU AWAY

As the year draws to a close, and your senior is occupied with all the fun and exciting celebrations and milestones, they may-- at times seem like a bit of a stranger to you. They may huff and puff and roll their eyes more than ever, they may resist your love and feel distant. Arguments may arise over the littlest of things, tensions may seem high and you may be left feeling unloved and frustrated as all hell. I can tell you to preapre for this but I don't think its possible. When you feel this shift happening, take a deep breath and remember the following: this is temporary. This is normal. This is not personal. Your senior is dealing with a flurry of overwhelming changes, goodbyes and fears and they say it is easier for them to push us away with an angry goodbye than a sad one. They don't know they are doing this and no, it isn't the real them. This is all part of the fleeing of the nest and your job, mom, is to be patient, calm and love them through it. It doesn't feel good, but this is a very good and necassary part of transitioning from child to adult. Hang in there

EMBRACE THE LOVE

This may sound weird but I swear to God I love my daughter differently this year. It’s not a more or less thing. It’s a new love. An awe. An appreciation. A sense of overwhelm. How did this happen? How did she become so beautifully Molly? She was an infant in my arms and now she is this productive, kind, smart, athletic, loyal, funny member of society. She speaks to adults in a new, comfortable, confident tone. She has learned hard lessons like sometimes life sucks and is unfair but the show must go on. She has found a new faith and independence and she is ready to conquer the world—without her momma by her side. I love her so much and the love is different. She is so many things I wish I was at her age and so many things I wish could be today. She is an adult and a beautiful one and she doesn’t need me anymore and oh-my-god that is equally beautiful and refreshing as it is sad and hard to digest and now, it’s hitting me and I am crying uncontrollably as I type this…..

Letting go is hard. Embrace the journey and the love and the process and give yourself a pat on the back because look at your beautiful, amazing, strong, child! After all the years of stress and mistakes and mom-guilt and sleepless nights, you can rest assured, you did A LOT right….. Congrats, beautiful momma!

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