It Will All Be OK: A Letter To Parents Of High School Seniors

This time last year I was stressing about my son’s senior prom, graduation, graduation party, college financial aid, things he would need for his dorm, who his roommates would be, what we would do for our last family vacation before college, and how I would cope with not having him at home every night.

And then, just like that, in the blink of an eye, his freshman year of college is coming to close.

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First-time parents of high school seniors, I know all of this seems so overwhelming. But, I promise, it will all be OK. You will ALL get through it.

Whether they’re wearing a $1000 custom ball gown or a $25 thrift store find, prom will be memorable.

Whether they are the valedictorian or a solid C-student, your child will receive their diploma.

Whether you serve a taco bar, a mashed potato station, or chips and dip, their graduation party will be great.

Whether they are starting at Harvard, an in-state university, a community college, or a trade school, they are receiving an education.

Whether you buy 15 Ikea FRAKTA bags or carry everything up to their dorm in garbage bags, move-in day will be just fine.

Whether they have matching comforters and a professionally decorated dorm room, or mismatched sheets and one Pokémon poster on the wall, they will have a place to call home.

Whether they surprise you by immediately taking the reigns and handling everything on their own, or call you from the financial aid office because they forgot what they were supposed to ask, they are figuring out how to become independent.

I write this as much for you as I do for myself. As a mom, I have and will continue to worry about my kids for as long as I live. But I have to remember that in most cases, everything turned out OK.

When my son was 8, I didn’t know if he would pass the third grade. Last year he graduated high school Magna Cum Laude. When I was 5 weeks pregnant, the ultrasound detected what looked like an empty sac. 16 years later, that “empty sac” is now a high school sophomore and my ride or die sidekick.

You will worry, you will stress, you will lose your patience, and you will cry when you’re in your car, driving away from their college. But you will also wake up the following day with the rare and blessed opportunity to design the next, and possibly best, season of your life.

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Dear Diary: A Guided Journal Roundup

I’ve been journaling for as long as I can remember. At the end of each school year, I would tear out the used pages of my spiral notebooks and used what remained as a diary. Because my parents didn’t speak English, my little brother couldn’t read, and my older sister was married and out of the house, I didn’t occur to me to protect my most intimate thoughts – as intimate as a 13-year-old in 1989 could get.

There was the kiss at the field trip to the planetarium after the lights went down. The long-held, unrequited crush on a boy I’d sat in class with everyday since 3rd grade. Wondering if I’d ever actually need a bra, if I’d ever be as smart as the teacher’s pet, or as pretty as my fair-skinned, blond classmates whose moms didn’t use them to practice haircuts and home perms.

One time, in high school, wrote about the time a guy who I really liked asked me to leave the safe confines of the Cineplex Odeon movie theater and go for a drive with him, without my parent’s permission. My mom either miraculously taught herself to read in English or enlisted my sister to translate, but somehow she read my diary and I got in big trouble.

At that moment, I made what is now one of my biggest regrets: I threw out every single one of my childhood diaries and didn’t start journaling again until I was married.

Today, most of my journaling is basically venting. If future generations excavated my journals they would assume I led a horribly unhappy existence – kind of  how we feel when we look at pictures of our great-grandparents staring gravely into the camera. But, the truth is that I am NOT always as sad as my journals would have you believe. But that is the dark place where my pen goes when confronted with a blank page.

This is where guided journals come in.

Guided journals are books with prompts and questions that are meant to bring out more than just what’s bugging you at that very moment. If you’re new to journaling, or just want to move beyond venting, a guided journal is a good place to start. The following are some of the coolest guided journals I’ve come across. (Click on the image for pricing and to learn more.)