So God Made a Teacher Collection (Sale!) ➔

I’ve been in some scary places in my lifetime.

But hands down one of the scariest places I’ve ever been is the parking lot of my son’s high school.

At first, the parking lot is peaceful and quiet, just a bunch of parked cars and a line of parents idling in their own cars waiting for their students at the end of the school day.

Then the wooded path from the high school to the parking lot slowly begins to fill with groups of young adults.

RELATED: My Girl’s First Day of High School

Some are off to college in a few months.

Some are already old enough to vote and serve in the military.

Some are heading straight from their school day to their afternoon jobs.

Some are climbing into their own cars and driving away.

Some are grabbing rides home with older friends who can drive.

As they all make their way past my car, I can’t help but picture the versions of them I first met so many years ago.

Gone are the young adult versions of them.

Instead, I see the 7-year-old who used to ride the bus with my son when he was in first grade.

I see the 8-year-old who played ball in the street outside my front window.

I see the 9-year-old who introduced my son to the magic of summer travel baseball.

I see the 10-year-old who helped lead their flag football team to an undefeated season.

I see the 11-year-old who introduced me to his mother, a woman who would become one of my closest friends.

RELATED: Things You Think When You Are the Parent of a High School Senior

I see the 12-year-old who wrote my husband a beautiful thank you note for being his coach during his youth football years.

I see the 13-year-old who giggled with their friends in the backseat of my car as I drove them all to the movies.

Babies.

Children.

I know they have morphed into amazing young adults, but in that parking lot, I still see them as the carefree, innocent, wide-eyed younger versions of themselves.

Even as they back out of their parking spaces in their own little SUVs and peel away into the line of cars exiting the parking lot, I see who they used to be.

Even as they kiss their high school sweethearts goodbye in the parking lot and drive away to their jobs, I see who they used to be.

Even as they chat with each other about their plans for life after graduation, I see who they used to be.

And as my own son, always one of the last to enter the parking lot, finally makes his way to my car, I see who he used to be.

I see the 5-year-old version of him, lunchbox in hand, bounding off the school bus and into my arms.

Yes, this parking lot is terrifying.

For this is the place where you can feel the distance between childhood and adulthood growing more and more each day.

But if you look and listen hard enough, the high school parking lot is also one of the most hopeful places to be.

It is where you can see the friendships and connections that will still be there for decades to come.

It is where you can see the hopefulness for the future they have yet to write for themselves.

It is where you can see the fear of the unknown and the insecurities being replaced by bravery and confidence.

RELATED: Dear Struggling Teen, Life Gets Better After High School

It is where you can see the ability to enjoy the present.

As my son climbs into the passenger seat and flashes his 16-year-old grin at me, I am aware that I only have a few more months to spend in this parking lot. Soon he will have his license and all that money he has been saving from his job will be put towards a car.

Soon I won’t be needed in this parking lot—this beautiful parking lot where fear gives way to hope—and I am really going to miss this place.

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page.

Jenni Brennan

Jenni Brennan, LICSW is an author, podcaster, college professor, therapist, and mother. Her work centers around the topics of grief, health and wellness, relationships, and parenting.

Dear 16-Year-Old Self, It’s Going To Be OK

In: Teen, Tween
Teen girl with flower in hair

Dear 16-year-old self, Please recognize this phase is only temporary. The pimple you have on your nose that you think every kid at your high school sees from across the room will soon be gone. The friend who snubbed you in the hallway between fourth and fifth periods will come around later this afternoon or tomorrow—in her world, she is dealing with the chemistry test she just got back and anticipating her parent’s reaction to another grade less than par. RELATED: Being a Teen is Hard Enough—Go Ahead and Take the Easy Road Once in Awhile The teacher who seems...

Keep Reading

Dear Son, Now That You’re a Teenager

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mother and son selfie, color photo

Thirteen years ago, after two failed inductions (who knew you could be on Pitocin TWICE and still leave the hospital pregnant!?) and more days past my due date than I ever thought possible—you made your dramatic debut (further proving you do things on your own time and in your own way) and my world has never been the same. Before that moment, I couldn’t even fathom the intense love, joy, or exhaustion that I was about to experience. From day one, you have been a force to be reckoned with. You both wreak havoc and create joy everywhere you go,...

Keep Reading

If You Choose Not to Find Joy in Raising a Teenager, You Will Have Less Joy But the Same Amount of Teenager

In: Teen
Teen smiling in the sun

Jack and I picked a crisp day to plop ourselves down on the ground in the front yard and plant some hyacinths for early spring. I could sense his confusion when he discovered planting flowers really meant digging holes, inserting a bulb bearing no resemblance to a flower, and then covering it once again with dirt. “Where are the flowers, Mom?” he’d ask. “We have to wait until the snow melts,” I replied, realizing he failed to process such a seemingly interminable delay of gratification. Planting bulbs is something I’ve done for years. Daffodils and hyacinths remain my favorites. Daffodils,...

Keep Reading

Get our FREE phone wallpaper to encourage you as the new school year begins

It's bittersweet for a mother to watch her child grow—but you both are ready to soar.