There are lots of big feelings in my heart lately. Like most folks, I’m worried and anxious. I’m trying to figure out how to take good care of my family and contribute to my community. I’m wondering how I can continue to do my job when I’m not at school with my kids.
And in the middle of all that, I’m sad. I’m a senior mama. My older son is set to graduate from high school in May. And I’m not sure what graduation looks like in these pandemic times.
I’ve learned this year that being the parent of a senior is a series of last times and never agains. We prepare ourselves for these final events. Mamas are keeping track, whether consciously or unconsciously, of the countdown. We hold the number of games and concerts and competitions in our hearts. I’m not sure any of us were ready for those numbers to abruptly go to zero.
We’ve already marked “last first day” off our list. I attended my last parent-teacher conference last week. My son has graciously posed for senior pictures because it was important to his mama. I want to savor every minute of these final high school days.
In some ways, we’re luckier than other families. We live in Missouri, so we’re not sure exactly what the rest of the school year holds. Kansas moms already know that their schools will be closed for the rest of the year. Many college and university parents know that their sons and daughters won’t be walking for graduation this spring. While uncertainty is stressful, I’m hopeful that some of the important senior milestones will still take place.
My fingers are crossed that we’ll be able to celebrate my son’s hard work over the last four years. I want to attend ceremonies and listen to long speeches and send announcements. I’d like to plan a party with more than 10 guests and order cakes and worry about the weather. I want to find just the right thing for all of us to wear. And I’m not sure any of this will be able to happen.
I’m sad for what I might miss with this sweet boy of mine. While I know that these disappointments are pretty small in comparison to the losses we may face, I’m still sad. It’s okay to be sad.
I’m sad for other mamas and their babies, too. I know there are moms who have sacrificed to allow their kids to attend college and those whose children will be the first in their families to graduate. Some mamas are worried because their kids may not graduate at all and this uncertainty might create more difficulty. Other moms are concerned because virtual learning isn’t likely to meet all their baby’s needs. I’m sorry for the moms who have balanced parenting with work and school to finish a degree of their own, and now won’t be able to celebrate with their colleagues.
My heart breaks for the students who have spent an entire college career preparing for their senior season or show or recital only to have them canceled. What about the moms worried as their graduates begin to look for jobs?
Please know that I appreciate the wisdom and care our educational leaders are showing as they work to keep our kids safe while making sure they learn. I’m certain that smart people are looking for ways to honor seniors and their families. It may even be that we find new and better ways to celebrate graduations.
Being a mom is a hard job and being a senior mom is harder still. I’ve spent this year trying to figure out a new way to be a parent while knowing I’m about 90 seconds from an ugly cry all the time. Now this new challenge to navigate.
I’m a little sad, and I wouldn’t trade a minute of being my kid’s mom.