Mama Mantra: Saying Goodbye to Your Senior

Posted May 28, 2024 by Prairie Wife -

Be okay with crying. That will be a recurring theme during the process of saying goodbye to your senior.

And by “saying goodbye to your senior,” I don’t mean sending them off to school in the Fall, or their Summer trip across Europe, or their apartment and the future they dreamed of.

I mean the celebrations and milestones that mark their entire Senior year.

When they walk across the stage and collect that diploma or receive the notice that they passed their GED, they are no longer in High School; they are no longer Seniors, and it’s time to say goodbye to that part of your life with them.

As I went through this all for the first time this year, I have learned that Senior year is defined by saying goodbye and endings.

And while all of these endings will lead to new and exciting beginnings, as parents, we need to acknowledge that this year will be full of lasts.

For most of us, our child’s Senior year will be the last time we see them step out on the field or see their hand raised in victory in the middle of the mat. It is likely the last time we will scream their name from the stands and jump up and clap for them. And for those who found joy in that part of parenting, those Senior nights at sports events are emotional! The Cowboy and I both shed tears as we stood by our son and heard the applause and cheers for his 4 years of commitment to our small-town teams.

The awards banquets were more emotional than I thought.

Isn’t it ridiculous how damn proud you can be about something that really has nothing to do with you?

Cowboy J was the one who put the time and effort into his school work to receive his All-Conference Academic Award…but there I was, beaming with pride when they called his name…feeling more joy for him than I ever felt for any of my own academic achievements!

The four years your children are in High School are full of many challenges and joys. It’s incredible to watch your kids turn into young men and women and start to get a peek at who they will be as they enter the world. There are so many pivotal moments for them and us during this time, so many changes, and so many things for all of us to learn!

Part of me took a deep breath and sighed with relief when Cowboy J walked across that stage. We had checked off another parenting box, “Received High School Diploma.”

But as excited as I am to see him heading off into his future this Fall, I am also terrified.

I know there is so much good ahead for our kids after High School, but as someone who went through it all…I know there are tough times ahead.

So, how did I say goodbye to our oldest’s Senior Year?

I spent our son’s Senior Year trying to savor as much of this time as I could. I took a few more pictures of the little everyday things, held onto his hugs a bit longer, and stayed up later than usual to chat.

I cried when I needed to cry, and yes, that meant I was weeping as I cleaned the house for his graduation party. Thankfully, The Cowboy and the Cowkids know me well enough to hug me and let me do my thing!

I’ve spent a lot of time having adult conversations with our son, listening, and calmly sharing my experiences and thoughts. I’m trying to sneak in a few more bits of parental wisdom while I still can…

I’ve prayed for him and for all of us because I know that when he leaves, our entire family dynamic will change.

At his graduation party, I left an empty journal and pen on the table and asked our guests to take a moment to share some wisdom with him. I thought he could take it with him to college, and when he was feeling lonely or in need of support, he could see pages and pages of helpful advice and how many people love him.

Everyone handles this time of life differently, and I know that perhaps this, being my first Senior, will be more challenging than the rest.

But, knowing myself, I don’t think it’s going to be different.

I also know that not all parents feel this way about High School and their child’s Senior year, and I want to let you know that it’s okay.

If this season was incredibly hard for you and your child, and all you feel is relief that it’s over, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!

All I can do is share my experiences, but know that the comments here are always open for you to share your thoughts safely.

Photo Credit: Skyla Lee Photography

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