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I’m the Mom of a 2021 Senior, and I’m Holding Onto Hope

I’m not giving up on my 2021 graduate’s senior year.

I know I’m swimming upstream here. I’ve read all the comments about how the class of 2021 will have it even worse than the class of 2020. I’ve seen all the predictions that, where this year’s seniors had two-thirds of a normal year, our just-finished juniors will be lucky to get a sliver of normal pie as seniors.

But I’m holding fiercely onto hope. I’m holding on with both fists, actually, because I’ve got two rising seniors living in my house: one in high school and the other in college.

For their sakes, and my own, I refuse to concede the school year that hasn’t even started yet.

Optimism is not by any stretch of the imagination my default setting, so I’m not going all “glass half full” here. Nor am I being naive. I’m not ignoring all the obvious signs that my students’ years will not be what they seemed likely to be six months ago. I’m not brushing off the changes that are almost certainly coming down the pike. I’m not oblivious to the fact that things that are “supposed” to be happening right now aren’t.

My dancers were supposed to be cramming for recital for the past few weeks. The curtain closed on that before it even opened.

My pom team girl was supposed to have tried out for her senior season and maybe even have been named captain. Now she has to wait to see if she gets any part of that season at all.

My education-major college student was supposed to have knocked out three full days of the substitute teaching required to graduate. Instead, those unchecked boxes are hanging over her head as she contemplates her incomplete resume.

My high schooler was supposed to finish up scheduling for fall. But building a schedule around classes that might be in-person or might be online or might not happen at all can hardly be construed as “finishing up.”

Clearly, we’re staring at a tall pile of the unknown and the unlikely. But I refuse to throw away the year ahead just because of what might not happen. I’m holding onto hope for what seems possible at this point. Maybe some of these pieces of a typical year will be delayed. Maybe they’ll be smaller than usual or will take on different forms. Maybe some of them won’t happen at all.

But right now, while they’re still in the could-be column, I’m going to give them their anticipatory due.

I’m going to hope for crying: tears of joy, tears of pride.

I’m going to hope for laughing: with my seniors, at myself.

I’m going to hope for celebrations: making the team, choosing the school, going to prom.

I’m going to hope for learning: in person, online, from teachers, from life.

I’m going to hope for planning: dorm room decor, party themes, what I’ll wear to graduation.

I’m going to hope for lasts: first-day photo ops, games, dances, performances.

I’m going to hope for big decisions: future alma maters, future employers, future relationships.

I’m going to hope for special moments: family dinners, movie dates, Saturday-morning pancakes.

I’m going to hope for good news: college acceptance letters, scholarships, job prospects.

I don’t know what the year ahead is going to look like, of course. I don’t know if my college student will move into the dorm in a couple months. I don’t know if my high schooler will have to wait to apply to her top-pick college until she can finally take the SAT. I don’t know if my dancers will ever get to use the costumes hanging in their closet.

But I don’t need to know what the year is going to look like. This year was always going to be about my seniors—who they are, who they’re becoming, where they’ve been, where they’re going. It will still be about them, no matter what.

I’m looking forward to it.

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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