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

Written by Elizabeth Spencer

I am the mother of a high school senior. 

This means I am perpetually getting into my purse for one of three things: 1)tissues (see, “senior moment”); 2)my credit card; 3)my phone (see, “camera to record senior moment for which I will need a tissue”).

My mind is spinning more than usual these days, ever since the calendar year and my daughter’s graduation year turned into THE SAME NUMBER, God help me.

But in the midst of all the spinning, my brain seems to be on a continual loop with the following recurring thoughts…

  1. I have GOT to memorize her social security number.
  2. Exactly how much meat do I need for a taco bar for 200 people?
  3. Where is that video of her singing that solo in that school program that year when she was in elementary school?
  4. Will this be the last time she’s home for Valentine’s Day/putting up the Christmas tree/her birthday/family game night? Did I take enough pictures this time around in case it is? Where is my phone? Where ARE the tissues?
  5. Will she like these cups for her party? (Takes picture of cups while hiding in the electrical supply aisle at the grocery store. Sends to prospective graduate for approval.)
  6. I cannot believe this is her last band concert/basketball game/high school musical/swim meet/pediatrician’s well-check.
  7. My entire life has become an acronym: FAFSA, EFC, SAR, GPA, SAT, ACT.(SOS.)
  8. How far in advance can an extended weather forecast for the day of her party be trusted?
  9. June is only how many months away?
  10. Did I miss the deadline for that scholarship application/yearbook senior picture submission/graduation party rental?
  11. I have GOT to make a list.
  12. “Just buy the basic model and put the extra $250 into a college fund, for crying out loud!” (Upon hearing about a $299 baby monitor that tells parents when they’re low on diapers.)
  13. This is not just a year of lasts. It’s really just the last year before a year of firsts.
  14. Have I made her favorite meal lately? Has she been home to eat her favorite meal lately?
  15. Why did we wait so long to do all the stuff around this house that needs to be done before her party?
  16. Please, God, don’t let it rain on graduation.
  17. Please, God, don’t let it rain on her party.
  18. I think I’d better start listening to “Pomp and Circumstance” over and over to try to build up my emotional immunity.
  19. Note to self: buy waterproof mascara.
  20. I don’t think I could love this child more than I do right now. But I thought that when she was born, and look what’s happened since.

If you’re in this season right now, what’s going around on your mental hamster wheel these days? If you’ve been there and done that, what do you remember thinking over…and over…and over? If these days are still ahead of you (way, way ahead…don’t think about it yet), maybe you know a senior parent you can pass this along to. And while you’re at it, hand them a tissue, will you?

About the author

Elizabeth Spencer

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two teenage daughters who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.


  • I love number 13! When I was a senior my mom wrote me a letter that I opened while sitting in the stands at my last football game (I was on the dance team and we went to every game as a team). I remember she told me to take it all in, the sound, the lights (and I do remember that moment 10 years later). It was my last but also the beginning of so many firsts as I left for college.

    • Aw, thank you, Davi! That’s one of my favorites, too. In fact, it’s helping me keep my tissue usage down significantly in this year when so many things are “last times.” And it sounds like you have a very wise mama. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • I’ve been there and done that twice! And now I’m preparing for college graduation – where does the time go 🙂

  • $300 for a baby monitor?! Anyway, I can understand how this is tough on you. I did not understand when I was the one graduating. Thanks for sharing on #FridayFrivolity

    • Yeah, that’s what I thought, too, Audrey (about that monitor). And thanks for the sympathy! I didn’t understand when I was the one graduating, either. Will you excuse me now while I go apologize to my mom? 😉

  • Right now I’m just hoping she graduates. its going to go down to the wire I think whether or not summer school is needed. Very disappointing, I’d love to be making party plans for her #fridayfriviolity

    • Oh my goodness, Jeremy. I am so, so sorry. I cannot imagine how hard and heartbreaking that must be to go through as a parent. Thank you for sharing so honestly here and slapping me in the face–in a good way–with some much-needed perspective. I’m going to reread this comment again and again in the busy weeks ahead. Thank you for taking time to adjust my viewpoint. I needed it. Best wishes, truly, to you and your daughter.

      • that was completely not my attention, and I hope I didn’t come across that way. You should be very proud of your daughter and all that she has accomplished

      • Oh, NO, Jeremy, you did not offend or insult me at all! I absolutely needed that adjustment to my perspective and have thought of your comment many times since I first read it. Truly, I thank you again for sharing so honestly, because I am SO prone to getting sucked into focusing on things that don’t really matter. We all just want what is best for the kids we love so much and for them to do the best they can. Again, sincere wishes for future success and happiness to you and your daughter, and thanks so much for checking back in!