parenting senior year

Buckling Up for Your Kid's Senior Year

12:20 PMHeather

I fought hard. I mean, seriously hard. Because Hulu was relentless last night. Every 2.3 seconds it seemed, they aired this commercial for formula that depicted moms and their sweet teeny tiny babies. The mamas and babies were cuddling and rocking and one baby was reaching for her mama's face.

And I could practically smell that sweet baby scent when you pull your little one from the bathtub and wrap them up in a towel as you hold them close and breath in the Johnson's baby bath.

It was cruel and unusual punishment.

I had, after all, collapsed into bed with my aching sore muscles after painting for seven hours. Seven hours that I had been painting my firstborn's senior parking spot with him.

Did you hear me? SENIOR. As in, "I'm about done here and moving on in life." As in, "I'm not a baby but nearly an adult." And, "Hey, it's the final count down until I leave home for college."

So last night, when that darn commercial aired the first 37 times, I fought tears. I was so tired and full of feelings about the first day of school ahead of me. The day when we attempt to fall gracefully into a school year routine, as a household of non-morning people. The day when we say dozens of times, "Man, summer flew by!" and then we relive our highlights. The day when I take the obligatory photos of each child, including that one who has one foot in his future.

But then, as that baby commercial played over and again, I began to preach to my soul. I began to remind myself of the truest things and the encouragement that I've been drinking in, as deeply as possible.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
Proverbs 31:25-26 

Oh, yes. SHE. That woman described in Proverbs 31 who sets a rather high bar for us as we are striving to be women who chase after God. That P-31, as my friend Nikki used to say in college. 

Oh, that Proverbs 31 lady. She rises early and she works hard and she brings good and honor to her husband all the live long day. And she is frugal and diligent and kind and generous and blah. Blah. Blah.

If only I could stop comparing myself to her and instead remember that God is actually giving me a picture of who he is making me to be.

When we yield to God's will and seek to know him and make him known, he is continually making us to become more like him. Which pretty much fleshes out into some lady like this P-31 model. 

A lady who can laugh at the days to come. 

She is clothed with strength and dignity. Because she is clothed in Christ Jesus and the righteousness with which he covers us through the blood he shed on the cross. And in him and through him and because of him, we are all able to laugh at the days to come. 

As we dig deep into his Word regularly, we are able to speak with wisdom and faithful instruction while we repeat the Word to ourselves. This is preaching the gospel to our souls.

Even our somewhat mourning and nostalgic and emotional little mama souls. 

Last night, preaching to myself looked something like this.

"So, self. Look at that commercial. Look at that sweet baby and mama. Remember when your now-senior boy was that little? Remember and be grateful! Take those memories and frame them in gratitude. Frame them in joy that you have and can store up in your heart all these treasured moments. Look back and frame all those memories of these first seventeen years with the thought of how far God has brought you. YAY GOD! He brought you through sleepless nights, midnight fevers, 3:00 a.m. feedings, acid reflux and projectile vomiting. There was potty training. The angst of learning to read. Playground bullies. Heart breaks of childhood. Shifting friendships. And middle school. PRAISE JESUS AND THROW A PARTY! He brought him through middle school. And now on to senior year with this one!"

I tend to ramble when I preach to my soul. 

So the next 598 that Hulu aired that commercial during my one hour program, I got with the "resetting my mindset" program. To sum it up, I said thank you, Lord, for all those milestones. Help me surrender the next ones to you and trust you for what's to come.

This is how I will learn to laugh at the days to come. I will simply turn my eyes from the "what-if's" of the days to come and fix my gaze on the One who holds the future. I will set my eyes on the Almighty God who has brought us this far. I will move my vision from the fears to the Faithful One who promises that he will never leave us nor forsake us.

I awoke this morning with a renewed sense of resolve. 

Game on, Senior Year! I'm buckling up! 

I'm going to work to choose joy and gratitude so that I might soak this all up. I will choose to say to my guy, "Hey! I'm so proud of how you've persevered and made it this far. You've worked hard. You've earned the right to be called a senior. Soak it in, son. Make the memories. Have the fun. Keep your eyes on the Lord and we will all ask him to reveal himself to us more deeply as your future unfolds."

This morning, as the sunshine broke through the clouds (literally and figuratively), we joked around the breakfast table. My eldest even relented and let me recreate his first day of kindergarten photo. 

Then, as we stood outside to see my high school boys off, you won't even believe what God did for us next. It's pretty awesome.

I was fighting back a tear as my senior climbed into his car with his younger brother. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a lady walking a double stroller. I only glanced but my husband actually made eye contact and greeted her by name.

There she was. A neighbor we never see. But we've known for years. Because about 18 years ago, my husband was her son's 8th grade Sunday School teacher. This morning, she was taking his son and nephew -- her grandsons -- for a walk.

And there you have it. 

God broke through that first-day-of-senior-year angst and said: "Here you go. Take a look. This is the days to come."

As she stepped into our driveway for a quick chat and my sons headed off to high school, my gaze was shifted. I was reminded of this truth.

Yes, on this day, I remember all sorts of milestones that have passed. I look at my kids and cannot believe we are here, at this season of life, with a senior, sophomore and a seventh grader.

In my mind's eye, I recall the first steps and birthdays and first day of kindergarten. I remember all the milestones. Some were more celebrated than others. Some should have been celebrated more than they were. Some, to be honest, are times that I'm just glad we survived. 

And the future is unclear. 

But there are so many more milestones and joys and wonderful things to come. I will always be his mama and good Lord willing, I will enjoy our relationship for decades to come.

There are so many days to come that will make me laugh out loud. 

There's good stuff coming. There's college and career and big life choices. Weddings and family vacations and family dinners and little moments, too. 

And there's grandbabies to come. 

Well, maybe.

And who knows? Maybe one day, I'll be taking my darling little grandchildren for a walk and bump into an old friend.

In her driveway.

When she needs to be reminded.

Through the grace of God, she can be clothed with strength and dignity. She can speak with wisdom gained with age. She can embrace the season she is in, celebrate the seasons that have passed and greet the seasons to come with joy and laughter.

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