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Dear Moms of High School Seniors: How Are You Doing?

Dear Mom of a High School Senior,

How are you?

I mean, really.

How are you doing?

Just a few years ago, I was where you are now, and so I have a little idea of what you’re doing. You’re running around even more than usual, trying to figure out how much meat you need to serve 200 people at a grad party taco bar and reserving a tent and praying for a sunny day. You’re saving dorm-shopping checklists and going to senior parent meetings even though you still cannot actually believe you are a senior parent. You’re thinking your entire life has become an acronym: FAFSA, EFC, SAR, GPA, SAT, ACT.


But what I’m asking is how you’re doing—physically, mentally, and emotionally—right in the middle of all your other doing.

On any given day when I was in your shoes, my answer to this question might have been something along the lines of one or more of the following:

“I’m great! This is so much fun!”

“I’m stressed. This is so much work.”

“I’m a sad, weepy mess.”

“I’m excited and beaming with pride.”

“I’m numb and exhausted.” 

“I have no idea how I’m doing.”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

Since I was, not long ago, mom of a high school senior myself, I offer myself as Exhibit A that you can and will make it through.

But the thing is, I know you don’t want to just make it through. I know you don’t want to just grit your teeth and survive. You long for so much more than that.

You want to soak this season up and savor it and give it as a gift to your senior—and to yourself.

I’ve only done this once, so I’m hardly an expert on the stress of the senior year high school. But from my view on the other side of pomp and circumstance, here are a few steps you might want to take along the last few miles of the senior-year road:

  • Take a deep breath. Slow in, slow out. It really does help reset your mind and emotions.
  • Laugh. It’s called “good medicine” for a reason.
  • Let the tears flow. It’s called a “good cry” for a reason.
  • Unload on one of your senior-mom friends. No one understands where you’re at quite like someone else who’s there, too.
  • Unload on a mom who’s been through it before. (I am raising a virtual hand.)
  • Take a nap. You are a mom and you are tired.
  • Take a(nother) picture. Eliminate the nagging feeling you’re missing something.
  • Hug your senior. Store those hugs up, my friend.
  • Schedule a manicure/pedicure/haircut/massage/lunch with your funniest friend. If ever there was a time for self-care, it’s when you’re taking care of everybody except
  • Give thanks. Gratitude activates peace. Peace is good.
  • Eat some chocolate. Chocolate increases serotonin levels. Serotonin makes you feel happy. Happy is good.
  • Say “no” to something. Usually, that means you’re saying a greater “yes” to something else.
  • Look back. Oh, the places your senior has been!
  • Look forward. Oh, the places your senior will go!
  • Grieve a little. Letting go is hard.
  • Celebrate a lot. There is so much to still hold onto and so much to look forward to.
I promise it will be okay. In fact, it will be so much better than okay.

You will feel pride like you’ve never felt before.

You’ll see the past, present, and future, all wrapped up in one gorgeous package.

You will be so grateful.

You will be so hopeful.

Congratulations, Mom. While you’re celebrating your senior, I’m celebrating you!

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two daughters (one teen and one young adult) who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.

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