If you’re mere weeks away from graduating a high schooler, right now I bet your emotional bank account has been completely depleted, and is now 100% devoid of feelings (because you’ve been Feeling. All. The. Feelings. since last September.) While at the same time, I bet it’s also currently overflowing with a barrage of “This is their last <insert any and all daily events that a regular teenager does during their senior year here>” thoughts.
Last prom! Last AP test! Last soccer practice!
On the one hand, having gotten this far in motherhood most definitely affords you the right to weep, sob, and mourn (then wash, rinse, repeat) for the entirety of their last year of education, but all of the “Waaah! This is the last time they will….” poignant reflections can, after a while, keep you focused on the sadness of all these great times passing, rather than recognizing and celebrating all of the great times to come.
When our children are getting ready to pass through a huge childhood milestone – walking, potty training, riding a bike alone, finishing grade school for example, of course we look back with fondness and sadness at the baby that is no more and quickly replaced with toddler, or the confidant 5th grader who just a few years earlier cried the entire first month of kindergarten. But at the same time, we’re usually relieved to be done with one age phase of childhood, and overjoyed to be on to the next one, and more importantly, to get to continue to watch our little ones flourish.
What Makes High School Graduation a Different Milestone
There is something different though when it comes to having a high school senior, as this particular milestone appears to look more like a final curtain call, than it does just one of many intermissions of a great lifetime performance. We dread it only because we view it as the metaphorical end of childhood, focusing on that part of the milestone, instead of the exciting beginning of the next one.
If you’re emotionally exhausted from treading water in what I like to call the “High School Graduation: The End is Near” end of the sentimental pool, fear not, because I have a few new (and happy!) types of feelings and thoughts you could and should be having about your senior.
Remember, after all the sorrowful lasts, come some pretty fabulous firsts.
“Firsts” to Look Forward To
- Their first night in their dorm! Remember how cool it was to hang out with an entire new group of people your age, and stay up all night eating pizza and exchanging stories?
- The first time they call you from college and they don’t have a problem for you to help solve, but just want to talk about how great things are going. Can I get an “Amen?!”
- Their first apartment, and first sense of quasi ownership of their own living space. (Then the first time something major breaks in it, and you get to experience (from the sidelines – hoorah!) their first stroll down the very expensive and inconvenient adult-ing lane.
- The first time they confidently declare their major, and express to you a real passion for what they think their future will hold.
- Their first road trip! And getting all the incredible pictures they send you from the new places they’re seeing for the very first time.
- The relieved feeling at the end of their freshman year, when you both can gratefully exhale, knowing you survived the separation.
- Their first real “I think I’m in love” relationship, their first real job interview, the first job contract they sign, the first car they buy on their own, and the first major life disappoint you get to witness them go through with grace and dignity.
- The first time they call just to say “Thanks Mom and Dad for everything you’ve done to get me here. I love you.” That first? Well, that may be the most fabulous first of them all.
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