parenting

My M.O.S.S. Decree (Moms of Senior Students)

11:32 AMHeather

Dear Self,

For the love, woman. Get a hold of yourself! Get a grip. Oh yes. Here you are. Your teeny tiny first born baby is officially a senior in high school. And in the last few months, you've used about every cliche in the book to describe this epiphany approximately five thousand times. 

"Time flies!"

"How can this be? This can't be right."

"But I blinked and now he's a senior."

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We get it. You are in a bit of denial here about the truth. It seems unreal. You are suddenly recalling every sweet older mother who ever told you to enjoy them because it goes so quickly. And you are feeling rather red faced about how you secretly rolled your eyes at them.

Because you realize that they were right. They were absolutely right. And not only that, you find yourself repeating the same phrases to your sister-in-law and the young moms at church and  school. Thankfully, you have refrained from repeating them to the younger mom in the grocery check-out line. At least so far. It's just a matter of time.

Okay. Listen, here's the deal. It is true. Because here's the facts. About seventeen-and-a-half years ago, you had a baby. The year was 1999. At one point, you calculated which year he would graduate. 

And it was June 2017. 

As in, less than one year from now. 

So, yes. Here you are. You are officially a M.O.S.S. Which means a Mom Of Senior Student.



So, here you are writing a decree to yourself. This blog post serves as your grand proclamation. Publicly writing a letter to yourself. So that you can go back and reread it as many times as necessary. And maybe, just maybe, it might prove useful to another M.O.S.S. 

First of all, let's begin with addressing the past. Suck it up, buttercup. Quit lamenting this. Really. Dry it up. You have a choice to make. You can either spend this season crying over the loss of time or considering regrets or feeling sorry for yourself or wondering what in the world you are going to do when he goes off to college. (News flash-- you get to do this two more times). 

In other words, you can WASTE this precious season trying to wish it away... OR, you can get your game face on and embrace it. 

Embrace it. Here you are. You guys made it this far. And for that, you should be thankful. Don't take for granted that you have this privilege. Of God entrusting you with this child who is growing up into a fine young man. Be thankful! Be thankful for his good health. Be thankful for his intellect and abilities. Be thankful for the very mere fact that your son is indeed a senior.

When you think back over all the days that led you here, quit feeling sad and wanting to go back. I mean, really. Would you want to do it all over again? When your mind wanders to that darling little chubby faced toddler, just re-frame those memories. Instead of feeling sad, feel thankful. CHOOSE THANKFULNESS. Be thankful you survived the Great Angst. That night you literally unraveled in tears because you didn't know whether or not to encourage the use of a pacifier. 

Oh, yes. It felt life or death. It felt like the future of all humanity was riding on that decision.

You might want to choose to laugh at your younger self.

Be thankful that you all survived reflux and projectile vomiting. And separation anxiety. See? Those older ladies were right. It didn't last forever. See now nicely he goes into a classroom now without you. 

Be thankful at how he overcame some of those elementary struggles and pitfalls. Playground politics. His hatred for reading. The nightly tears over reading homework all the live-long kindergarten year. You had even forgotten about that massive struggle until you walked into his room the other day and he was reading a big fat novel. It sparked that memory and you both had a good laugh over it, although he had no recollection of the struggle that was so very real for a good ten months.

Be thankful, by the way, that there are so many of those early struggles of which he has no memory. That's God's grace. Becoming a big brother and learning to share the attention. Oh, the mommy guilt you heaped on yourself. And just look. He does not recall it one single bit. 

Indeed, feel free to look back. Remember it all well. Recall all the ups and all the downs. But not with a sense of wishing this season away. Quite the contrary. Look back and feel thankful. For all the battles won. All the battles endured. Even the battles lost. Be thankful that God has brought you this far. Embrace every bit of it as just part of the journey. It is all part of the story.

The story of your now senior. The story of you. The story of your family. And the story of God's faithfulness. 

Now that this little letter to yourself has addressed "re-framing" the past, let's take a second to consider the present.

This time is precious. This is a time like no other. This is a magical time of soaking in every second with your son as he begins to step one foot into his future while keeping one foot in his incredible last year of high school. Don't you remember? Don't you recall the way you hounded your parents to give permission for every "last time" event in which you wanted to participate? 

"But Dad, it's the last time that it'll be the first home game for football!"

"But Dad, it's the last time for me to go with my friends to plan out our LAST EVER prom!"

Remember how your dad firmly said, "If you start one more plea with 'but it's the last time', then it'll be the last time I ever say yes."

Um, yeah. Remember milking every last opportunity as if your life depended on it?

Just let him. Let him enjoy all these milestones that he has earned. Let him enjoy these friendships that have been so important and that will soon change. Let him make all the memories. Let him celebrate all that he has accomplished. 

Find every moment you can to be present with him and to have the quick conversations. To steal him away for a Sonic drink. To sit and listen to him recount his day as he plops on the couch after school. Even if he is nasty sweaty from soccer and he is sitting on your furniture.

Let him.

Dream with him in this unique transition year. Host the friends. Throw the party. Take the pictures. Have the fun.

And be intentional. Be intentional to put down the phone. To create a calendar in this season with margins. Be intentional to say no to lots of other things so that you have the margins to say yes to your family. Be intentional to spend time as a family. To linger over dinner. To make the dinner that you can linger over. Be intentional to seize the tiny moments. Have the freedom in the task list to assist where needed with this son who is a senior. Make this year a priority when it comes to the things you've thought of doing with him and for him. 

Paint the senior parking spot. In August. In Texas. 

Do the senior photos. And enjoy them.

Have mother-son dates. However brief or infrequent.

Tap on his door to go sit on his bed at the end of the day to check in.

Plan times as a family. And help him plan times with his friends.

Take the college visit trips. (Who are we kidding? The kid bleeds green and gold, but go look at other colleges anyway).

Do the things you may not love to do. Like watching Manchester United games on the "tellie."

Spontaneous 11:00 pm trips for Honey Butter Chicken biscuits at Whataburger. You don't have to eat one, just go along for the ride.

Attend all the soccer games. Cheer loudly. 

Pray for him and with him and over him.

Plot the family celebrations around graduation to really mark the moment.

Stop and plan and plot and make lists. Keep it simple, but be intentional. This is a special season. Soak it all in. Gather with other M.O.S.S. to build a village and pray and help each other through this. Take the photos to mark the little moments. Even when he balks. Steal the hug. Let him know you're proud and you believe in him.

And then set your eyes on the future. With great hope and anticipation and joy.

Yes, joy.

Here's the kicker. 

This is actually not the end. 

I know, I know. For over 17 years, you've had this mental image of parenting for 18 years and then it just being over. You lay awake at night wondering if you've taught all the things, given all the lessons.

Can he really survive at college knowing only how to cook ramen noodles, pizza rolls and your homemade chicken and dumplings?

Did you teach him enough about how to study hard and balance that with making memories?

Have you commended Jesus to him enough and showed him joy in the gospel? Have you instilled a strong enough spiritual foundation?

Because the sand is flying through the hourglass. The clock will strike midnight! 

Um, no. Listen, self. Your days of mothering are oh-so-far from over. You will always be the mom. You actually will NOT send him on his merry way next August and wash your hands of all things motherly. It will not be a moment of: Be a mom and raise a kid? Check. DONE.

No, you will always be his mom. So, don't have this sense of dread like it's all coming to an end. Yes. Some things will change. You won't be in the know on his day-to-day schedule like you are now. You won't see him as often. You won't be in the loop as you are now.

But you will always be his mom. He will always need you, although those needs might change. He will come home. He will rely on you and call on you. You will still aggravate each other at times. And you will still worry. Your mother's heart will always wrestle with fears and anxiety that you have to run to the Father in prayer to help you settle.

Instead of dreading the future like it's some black void of nothingness where you will be useless to your son, look forward to the future. Your relationship will change. As it was meant to be. But as you've always told him: he will always be your baby. 

Consider all the exciting things to come. Know that great, great things lie ahead of him. And ahead of you. Know that all these years of planting seeds and correcting and guiding and coaching are going to bring fruit. The harvest lies ahead. 

You will revel in such ridiculously wonderful things like when he discovers God's call on his life and begins his profession. When he builds his own family. When he realizes that some lesson you taught way back when actually had merit. (Although he may not utter the words that you were right).

Be the woman who can laugh at the days to come (Proverbs 31:25). Be the mom on her knees always, thanking God for this son he has loaned you. Releasing him to God's big plans for him. Trusting God to continue to guide you as he has these first 17 years. Be the mom who is steadfast in prayer. Who is generous with love and grace. Who laughs readily. And often. Who listens well. And celebrates and rejoices in every season.

Listen, you. Be the woman who knows that the Lord is the God who was, who is and who always will be. Let him be Lord of the past. Look to him to be Lord of this season. And trust him to be Lord of the future.

Got it, self? Find every last bit of joy in this senior year. Every day, be thankful for all that has been. Be present in every moment that is. And be excited for every moment to come.

Alright. Now, little M.O.S.S. self. Let's do this!

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