Like a Surprise Party you find out someone is throwing for you that you don’t want to attend – so is parenting a senior in high school.
Here we are, clicking along our day-to-day, watching our babies grow out of their pjs we swear were too big for them the night before when we put them to bed. We prep and plan, make 18 years of food, invent outfits for trick or treating, spirit week and band concerts. We attend events, build relationships and smile while talking to people we would otherwise have nothing in common with. We wipe tears, have hard conversations, celebrate the wins, cry ourselves to sleep, take the high road after dreaming of slashing someone’s tires. (Okay, maybe that’s just me.) We do all of this on a daily pot of coffee, praying its power gives us energy enough to run tirelessly through it all with a smile on our face.
Then, SURPRISE! Off they go.
Well, I guess it’s not as sudden as that. Or, maybe it will be. We have a year. A year, when they are seniors, when time seems to function at warped speed when all we want to do is nap because we are so DANG tired. We continue to plan the eventual end – again, with a big ole juicy smile on that face. Because, after all, we are better than “that mom over there” who is losing their crap in a full-on mental meltdown through this undefinable 12 months of unrealistic expectations where we struggle to figure out where we fit in.
Instead of being transparent and supporting each other through this horrible transition period of feeling like a person with 108 personalities, laughing one minute and crying the next; we hide it and pretend like everything is okay. We keep our struggles as close to our hearts as possible, because “no one else feels the way I do.” Or, maybe, our perfect young adult that we raised is acting a fool. We are excited for the change one minute, but then struggle choking down the thought of the “missing piece” in the next. We fly off the handle at the dumbest of things, but then feel completely in control of all things a moment later. We quietly smile at small wins of survival, and then beat ourselves up over the spontaneous mistakes that feel like a dreadful loss of sanity. I don’t know about you, but I once was a confident, strong, snappy (and slightly snarky) decision maker; I now find myself doubting and questioning myself through every turn.
I bet if we were to ask these kids that have now become adults overnight how they see us, we would be pretty surprised by their answers. Because after all, we are living this falsehood that we can fool others into thinking we are okay. Why? Because we have practiced doing this for years. Yes, we may be able to fool our spouses, extended family members, bosses or coworkers and other moms that we got it all under control. But after all these years of spending every minute together, our kids have witnessed many moments when we weren’t fine, just as we pride ourselves in knowing when they are struggling. I am realizing they are smart enough to know when we are not okay, but justifiably selfish enough to not care. After all, they have worked just as hard to get here to independent land where they can start making their confident, strong and snappy decisions for themselves.
I write all of this because I am making a commitment to all the parents out there to live a life of transparency. I am not okay. But I am okay. Wait, maybe I’m not. This roller coaster of a Senior Year is hard. It’s much harder than I would have ever imagined in ways no one could have ever prepared me. No scholar, no counselor, no pastor, no friend. Why? Because they too are going through this unwritten, unscripted journey just like me. This experience is one we just have to stumble in to and, I confidently say, WILL emerge from. Like a much-needed root canal, there is no ignoring it in hopes it just goes away. We have to take a deep breath, and willingly show up for it. We must trust the process, be patient, remain calm through the painful parts, recover in the peaceful times, and PRAY THROUGH IT ALL.
One thing is for certain, we cannot ignore it or it will become more complicated.
Can we be real? THIS…IS…HARD. And my heart hurts a lot. I’m tired. And I kind of just want to eat ice cream for lunch today.
So here is my gift to all who are melting down, or doing great, or faking it through it all – SURPRISE!
We all are winners! We all are going to make it! We all are going to grow from this crazy chapter. Embrace. It. All.
Praying for You,
Published with Care By:
October 22, 2021
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