Dear First-Time Mama of a High School Senior

I know, I know.

You looked at yourself in the mirror this morning and asked, “How, how do I have a senior in high school?”

Then you either a) started hyperventilating, b) teared up, c) swelled with pride or d) all of the above. I’m sure moms who have gone before us are already smiling, reaching out their arms to embrace our conflicted hearts. But, I suspect while this letting go thing may get easier, it will never get easy.

Can I get an AMEN?!

I feel like we are bombarded with something called the “oh sh*t” list. As in, “oh sh*t” I didn’t know we had to do that. And so it goes. It’s quickly followed by a “I guess we’ll scramble and figure it out” list. Followed by a list of things to pick up at the liquor store. At the end of the day, it will all get (mostly) done. And if it doesn’t? Oh well. Life lesson #58 to fix for the next high school senior.

As the mom of a kindergartener 12 years ago, I remember looking at high school moms as if they were some foreign fossil. I mean, they had been at this gig a long time and they clearly knew all the things. They were so smart and wise and confident. And dang if they didn’t have so much free time on their hands.


If only I’d really listened when they would remind me they were just as unsure and scared as we were. And let’s be honest “free time” and “motherhood” are not synonymous for any of us. If you are the parent of a kindergartener? Just enjoy the ride mama. Yes, you’ll get here much quicker than you ever imagined, but don’t rush the journey. You’ll be a better mom for being a student of its life lessons.

As I watched my senior hop in his car, with his freshman brother riding shotgun, and drive off on the first day of school – just a teeeeeeny bit too fast – I just exhaled a wistful sigh. So this was it. This is where I start to let out the leash, slowly and purposefully, toward a new, exciting chapter for all of us. Every mom – even the one who tells you she’s fine – can’t help but reminisce about that the child that was and how he has become the child that is. It’s deeply gratifying to watch them spread their wings and in our case, slightly terrifying. Have you seen my teenager’s room?

I’m allowing myself to feel all the feelings, as my friend Danielle reminds me to do. But, in her sage advice, I’m also working hard not to stay there, in the pit of sadness. When I look back on my senior’s year, I don’t want my memories to be how much stock I bought in Kleenex. I’d rather it be of me snapping all the embarrassing photos, standing back to watch my senior shine, relishing in the friends that drop by unannounced or the plans that just got hatched. I want him to live this year with joy and with purpose.

And, if I’m being honest, I want to live it with both of those, too. I’ll keep the tissue in my pocket, though, just in case.


  1. Donna Pugh on August 20, 2018 at 10:22 am

    And Will Whitaker will definitely shine! Relish the year, Kathryn!!! There will be “some” tears, but there will be WAY MORE smiles!!!

  2. Megan DiTeresa on August 20, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    At the end of this year, give me your Oh SH*T list! 🙂
    Here’s to Will’s Senior year!!

    • Kathryn on August 20, 2018 at 3:06 pm

      LOL. I can definitely do that.

  3. Kim Gallagher on August 20, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    Howdy! I’m the mom of 5. I have sent my first 2 off to A&M and my daughter (who is also a senior) will be headed there next year — We are just waiting for the “You’ve been accepted!” I can tell you it doesn’t get easier — but the “Oh Sh** list” gets to be at least a little more organized!
    Wishing you a year full of fun, excitement, and a mountain of memories! Good luck to Will — our wishes for a FANTASTIC and God Filled Senior year! We can’t wait to see his picture holding the “I’m the NEWEST Loudest & Proudest member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggies” Banner!

    Hope to you see you at A&M and St. Mary’s one day!
    God Bless!

    • Kathryn on August 24, 2018 at 7:53 pm

      Glad to hear at least some organization is in my future. Ha! #gigem

  4. Aileen Searles on August 23, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    I cannot believe you have a senior!! I’ve been following you for years. I have four grandchildren ages 4 to 13. And I can’t believe the oldest is already 13! You’ve got this, mama! 😉

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