“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor W. Frankl
Mom sets the tone.
For years I’d heard this saying, yet it didn’t really register until I witnessed it firsthand.
It was 2011, and my daughters were young. We’d gone to dinner to celebrate a new home that the sellers said was ours. My girls had chosen their bedrooms, and our family was giddy with excitement. After years of being crammed into tight quarters, we were desperate for more space.
And that’s when the curveball came. Halfway through dinner, our real estate agent called and said the owners signed with another family. We soon discovered how they used our contract to get a higher offer.
I was heartbroken – and mad. We’d let ourselves get attached to this house because we thought it was a done deal.
Back at home my anger rose, and I needed a release. For lack of a better option, I threw shoes at my bedroom wall. I was a few sneakers and stilettos in when my oldest daughter, age 9, walked in and asked what I was doing.
As I explained the method in my madness, she joined me in throwing shoes. For a while we both felt better dinging the sheetrock for revenge.
But as my daughter changed before my eyes, I realized what I’d done: My anger had stoked her anger. My mood had darkened her mood. While I wanted her to be honest about her disappointment, I couldn’t leave her in this volatile state
I needed to step up, be the adult, and take my raw emotions to a more mature and stable place.
That 9-year-old girl is now a high school senior, part of the class of 2021. And though we’ve never had another joint temper tantrum throwing shoes at the wall, it’s fair to say that this school year could provide some opportunities.
In short, it will be strange. It won’t look normal, and while parents keep telling me, “Don’t blink, senior year passes so fast that you can barely process it all!” I wonder if this grade may be the exception. Right now, nothing is guaranteed – and while I certainly hope for major milestones, I also pray for basics like getting to go to school.
So far, my daughter and her friends have good attitudes. They understand the need to be flexible and make the best of what comes. As a mom whose strength is planning, I feel unsettled not making plans. Every plan I have is fluid and has a “God willing” attached to the end.
With so much uncertainty, it’s easy to ruminate and worry. It’s easy to join the angry mob of parents fighting to get their way, judging other parents and their kids, and bombarding school leaders with fierce opinions. There is no perfect path for this year’s seniors, and while some things are worth a respectful fight, it’s a waste of time to stay angry and at war. Deep in my heart, I know this:
I refuse to spend my daughter’s last year at home being angry and upset.
I want to finish strong and celebrate the amazing young lady she is,
regardless of what her senior year brings.
I’m not a Pollyanna, and I won’t pretend that this situation is no big deal. Our seniors need us to listen, empathize, and grieve the loss of a traditional year. They need room to cry, feel, and work through disappointments, especially the ones that catch them off-guard.
What they don’t need is to be left in a volatile place or have us darken their mood. As moms we set the tone – and most certainly the climate inside our homes – and since our attitude affects our family’s attitude, it’s worth considering the mindset we bring into senior year.
The attitude I hope to have boils down to gratitude.
Gratitude for every day that my family has health.
Gratitude for the gift of watching my little girl grow up and every memory she’s made since kindergarten.
Gratitude for every milestone my senior gets to celebrate – starting with her senior portrait that I got to witness.
Gratitude for a God who is close to the brokenhearted and promises the best is yet to come.
Gratitude for resilient teenagers who will blaze new paths this year.
Gratitude that I’ve lived long enough to know how life’s best moments are often spontaneous, unexpected, and born out of necessity.
Gratitude for extra time with my family together under one roof.
And gratitude that my daughter is still pumped about her senior year and ready to make it special.
2020 has brought many rude awakenings and plot twists. Every day there are scary headlines, tragic news, and people who darken our mood. It’s hard to feel hope and choose a better road.
But the Greek word for crisis means “to judge” and discern between 2 things. As this Greek Orthodox priest explains, a crisis forces us to choose. It takes us from walking a straight path to facing a sudden fork in the road. Our choice reveals where we stand. Throughout the New Testament Jesus brought a crisis by presenting a dilemma. No longer was the straight road an option; people had to choose between what He said and what the world said.
Today, this same dilemma exists. We can choose a path of anger, division, and despair – or a path of hope, unity, and trusting God.
Even in a crisis, we can fight for joy and chose hope. We can let joy and pain co-exist. Desperate times call for creative measures, and for those of us with 2021 seniors, setting a positive tone, finding common ground with other parents, and thinking outside the box will help us (and our seniors) finish strong. It frees us to pray, laugh, imagine, dream, create, advocate, plan intimate ceremonies and gatherings, and lean on God for unique solutions to a wildly unpredictable year.
Our amazing seniors have come so far and are almost legal adults. This is their last year in their childhood homes, so let’s make positive memories. Let’s celebrate them early and often and save our energy for what matters. Even if curveballs come, we still have a choice. We can choose our attitude and our response – and as we find our footing on the path less taken, we’ll set an example for these seniors that we’d be proud for them to follow.
On Aug. 18, my new book Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter releases. It’s gaining fantastic early buzz, and by pre-ordering, you can receive amazing incentives here. Order through Amazon or through Audible, where I read the book to you. What a privilege it’s been to narrate my first book for moms!
I’ve also written books for teen girls, 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know and Liked, used widely across the U.S. for small group studies. To keep up with future posts, subscribe to this blog or join me on Facebook, Instagram, and the Girl Mom podcast
Posted by Kari on August 9, 2020