My youngest is a senior in high school. That means that melancholy is starting to set in. Seldom does a day go by that I don’t pass that sweet portrait of a giggly, rollie-poly 9-month-old and think, “Wait, what?”

Clichés make me cringe, but in this case, they are all mostly true. Just when I get comfortable, when there’s a lull in the frenzy that is senior year, Facebook hits me with its “On this day” nonsense. One click later, I’m transported back to a time that was both simple and sweet ... a time when “Cars” and “Toy Story” played on a continuous loop … a time when those two chubby hands would grab both sides of my face, pull me close and say, “I’ve missed you since forever.”

I’ve been here before. Five years ago, his big brother gave us a reference point … a reference point that serves as a reminder that everything will be fine.

Watching our children grow up is a universal rite of passage, but that doesn’t mean it’s not challenging. After years of wasting time being sad about this growing-up business, I’ve reached a healthy balance between wistful sentimentality and moving onward.

Instead of resisting the sad. I invest in it. I examine it. I embrace it. I tell the sad that I’m here to learn from it. I do all the things that Brene’ Brown has been telling me to do.

I think I’m more nervous than sad. I don’t want time to slow down. I don’t want him to stay with us forever. He’s growing up. The logical part of my brain understands that this is part of life, while the emotional part screams, “Are you insane? He isn’t ready.”

What’s a girl to do when the sadness becomes overwhelming?

If you’re the parent of a high-school senior, I see you and hear you. I’m here to tell you that it will be ok. Sage advice from friends and family helped me the first go-around.

So, I made a list of some of their words of wisdom. It’s a short list, but it might help you navigate this unfamiliar road.

  • Lean into your friends and family who have been there. If they survived, you will too.
  • Appreciation is the antithesis of melancholy. Look at how far they have come. Remember when you worried that they would never learn to tie their shoes?
  • Celebrate … seriously. If your child is ready to take on this big, crazy world, you’ve done your job.
  • Remember, they have feelings too, and they still need you. Whatever you’re feeling now, I can promise you on some level that little girl or boy is feeling the same. The difference is they don’t have the tools to cope yet. They lack the experience and growth (and wrinkles) that getting older naturally brings. That’s what you’re there for.
  • This is going to be fun. They are ready to explore and live their one, precious life, and you get to watch. Of course, the road into and through adulthood will be littered with good times and bad times, but those times are also the birthplace of growth.

When I see new moms looking all confused, sleep-deprived, and weary, I know they have no idea how fast the next 18 years will rush by. You can’t prepare her. All you need to do is keep the lighthouse lit.

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Telling Tales is written by Wilson County’s Becky Andrews and Angel Kane.

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