When my oldest son started his senior year of high school, I felt like I was back to being pregnant again. Not in the literal, physical sense—thank goodness—but in so many other areas, his senior year gave me a powerful, throwback pregnancy vibe.
Pregnancy and senior year share an eerily common timeline. Both are 40 weeks. For real. Look it up. They both claim to be nine months but somehow manage to actually last 10 months. Once you start to notice the similarities between being a mom to a senior and being pregnant, you almost can’t stop seeing them.
1. Senior year is all-consuming.
Just like being pregnant, it is at the front of your mind almost every minute. Both pregnant moms and senior-year moms enter a conversational black hole that draws every conversation, no matter the original topic, back around to itself.
When I was pregnant, every conversation centered around the baby and being pregnant—I just couldn’t help myself. The conversational tractor-beam compelled me. As a senior mom, I was the same broken record. I might start off talking about dinner plans, but I end up talking about the dwindling number of days left to cook for my graduate and grabbing for a tissue.
Senior year, with all its events and deadlines and lasts, occupies a massive chunk of a mom’s brain space and conversation. And just like pregnancy, it is what everyone else asks a senior mom about. So even if we wanted to talk about something else—although to be clear, we don’t—friends and family keep bringing it up. Honestly, I am fine with that.
2. Senior year is full of research.
Just like reading and re-reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting, moms of seniors soak up any and all sources of information. Back when I was first pregnant, the internet was also in its infancy, so I checked out every last pregnancy book from the library. Now, as a senior mom, I am trolling the internet into the wee hours of the night trying to desperately understand how to fill out the FAFSA.
I ask other senior moms questions, and then just like when I was pregnant, I freak out and anxiously worry that I’m not doing that . . . should I be doing that? And just like pregnancy, in the midst of all of my frantic, fact-gathering and spinning like a top, deep down, I don’t feel prepared. Spoiler alert: turns out feeling prepared is not actually a prerequisite for being a good mom—in either stage of life.
3. Senior year is exhausting.
Both pregnant moms and senior moms are emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted with not much to show for it. Growing a baby always felt like running a secret marathon. Launching a senior echoes that hidden work. Things I normally did without a thought now drained all my energy. I couldn’t understand why tackling a home project sounded overwhelming or why a big outing on a Saturday left me bone-tired. I was using up my reserves, and I wasn’t even halfway through.
Hormones, interrupted sleep, mom brain fog—here we go again with the same verse in a different chapter. Both when I was pregnant and as a senior mom, I had to throttle way back on activities and commitments for the good of everyone in my family.
4. Senior year is full of changing expectations.
I made my birth plans and packed my bags with expectations of how my son’s birth would unfold. But, turns out, my baby got to call the shots. Now eighteen years later, my planning for his future once again played second fiddle. As a senior mom, I can think I know best and have all the steps expertly laid out for him, but my baby gets to choose the path.
Thankfully, my baby has grown up. Although it passed in a blink, I can trust the years I and others have invested in my senior. Extra bonus tip: Just like second and third babies have their own unique birth stories, second and third seniors march to the beat of their own drums. Every time around looks different. I don’t know why that surprised me, but it did.
5. Senior year isn’t the end.
When I was pregnant, I felt like the goal was getting this bun out of the oven. If I could just get this little one born . . . whew, I would be home free. Senior year gives moms the same yearning. Graduation, just get me to graduation, and I will cross the finish line with my arms spread wide. Although collapsing in a heap is definitely allowed, the road doesn’t end at graduation.
Looking back, coming home from the hospital with my baby was just the beginning. Little did I know, right? Welcome to a repeat in senior year! Just like birth starts a shiny, new parenthood adventure, graduation launches a boisterous adult relationship with my not-so-little bundle of joy.