Tears…

Tears of joy
Tears of sorrow
Tears of pain

We shed tears for so many different reasons.

As Ben turned and walked away from us for the 5th time since starting college, I found myself surprisingly tearless.

I guess I’m starting to get used to (or numb to) saying “see you later”.  I don’t like it any more now than the first time – but it doesn’t rip my heart wide open in piercing pain like it did the first few times.

Less than 12 hours later, as our plane begins to taxi down the runway, I am blessed with the window view and one last glimpse of the snow capped Rockies.

IMG_3552

That’s when I unexpectedly burst into tears.  But tears of what I wondered?

Tears of emptiness, accepting that I wouldn’t see Ben again for a few months.

IMG_3463

Tears of gratitude for an awesome ski week with my guy and Ben.

IMG_3482

Tears of comfort, knowing Ben is in such a great place – physically, mentally and emotionally.

IMG_3383

Tears of sadness, since I’ll have to wait 9 months until I can ski again.

IMG_3226

Tears of AWE!

As I looked at the majestic peaks of the Rockies, a chill moved through me and I felt God.  I felt him in and around me – and at the very same time – in and around the mountains.

IMG_3476

It was a moment of intensity and calmness, a moment almost too powerful for words to describe.

Does my connection to the mountains make me feel closer to God?  Or does my relationship with God make me feel more connected to the mountains?

IMG_3207

I guess it doesn’t much matter which came first.  What does matter is the fact that I can no longer deny that my heart and soul belongs in the Colorado Rockies.

I can live a beautiful life at the beach.  But in the mountains – my soul sings, my soul dances, and my soul feels so deeply that it sheds tears.

With Gratitude, Joy & Love,

3 Ways to Mark the Milestone of your Child’s Senior Year

My oldest son’s senior year in high school feels like a lifetime ago – and yet, he’s only been a college student for 6 months now.  Living through his last year of high school was a whirlwind , a roller coaster ride of emotions, and that’s putting it lightly.  It was a year that I always knew would come, and yet once it arrived, I was in shock.  It was a year that brought me both immense joy and deep sadness.  It was a year where I  often prayed that I could stop time.  While I was never granted that magical power, I did get to practice being so present in the moment, that it sometimes felt like time stopped.

Now – 6 months later, I feel like the fog is lifting and I can look back with clarity.  I can honestly say that I am grateful for how the year unfolded.  In retrospect – a few things happened that proved to be medicine for my aching heart.  Things that were so powerful, I will intentionally repeat them when I get to relive this  experience with Pete, who is now a high school sophomore.  Here are 3 ways to mark the milestone of your child’s senior year.

SKIP THE SENIOR PORTRAIT

View More: http://shawnabielat.pass.us/feinmanfamilyphotos2014

I’m sure things are different for girls.  They probably can’t wait to do their Senior Portrait (you know – those professionally posed photos involving various outfit changes).  When I first brought up the subject, my son was emphatic that “Senior Pictures” would NOT be happening.  I tried bribing him.  I tried compromising.  I tried begging.  I even pulled the mommy guilt trip on him.  It went something like this; “After all I’ve done for you, for 18 years, you can’t give me just 30 minutes (one outfit / one location) with a photographer so I can have a few darn photos of your senior year?”  Add a pitifully pleading voice to that statement, maybe a tear or two – and it still didn’t work.  No way, no how – he was NOT bending!

I backed off and let it go.

But a few months later I had a brainstorm.  My guy would be celebrating his 50th birthday the same year that our first born was celebrating his senior year in high school.  This was a big year, a milestone year – one that deserved to be captured in photos.  So I purchased a photo session gift certificate from a family friend and photographer as a 50th birthday gift for my guy,  knowing that I would at least get some pictures of B at this milestone point in his life.  He couldn’t argue with my spin on it – and I didn’t disclose my ulterior motives.

I thought this was a viable alternative, but never in my wildest dreams did I think this compromise would exceed my  “Senior Portrait” expectations.  The bonus was two-fold.  First – our family had a fun (and funny) evening together.  We spent an hour at the beach, partly posing for the camera, but mostly giggling and being silly – all of which the photographer captured.  Not only did I get some solo photos of my high school senior, but we photographed every possible combination of the four of us.

I thought I was giving something up by backing off and not forcing the senior pictures – but in turn, I got way more than I could have ever imagined.  There will be NO senior pictures for my Peter!  It’s a family photo shoot repeat in 2 1/2 years!

View More: http://shawnabielat.pass.us/feinmanfamilyphotos2014

MEMORIALIZE THE YEAR

Being a blogger, writing about my experience as the mother of a high school senior last year was kind of a no brainer.  But what began as a form of therapy for me, turned into a year long documentation of  the ups and downs, the realizations and revelations of both myself, as a mom, and my B, as an evolving young man.

Just before his graduation, I intentionally shifted from writing for myself (and you), to writing for him.  I had a vision of giving him a letter filled with my words of wisdom when I left him at his dorm in August.  But the thought of fitting ALL my thoughts and feelings into the confines of a  letter felt constrictive.  So instead I started a journal – dating each entry from early June through mid August.  Sometimes I wrote daily, other times – just once a week.  This letter turned journal, evolved into a 27 page book of sorts, filled with memories of both my childhood and his, lessons I learned as well as lessons I wish I had emphasized more while raising him.  It was both funny and sad, light hearted and deep, but more than anything – it was authentic.

IMG_2707

The end result is that I memorialized both the year, and our relationship, through my words.  But you don’t have to write a letter (or journal).  You could create a scrap book, or a collage.  Make a quilt or paint a mural.  Fill a photo album, or design a slide show.  Write a poem or a manuscript.  Compile all of your senior’s favorite recipes into a cookbook, with mom messages.  Choose whatever form of documentation you are called to.  Let it be personal, therapeutic and fun!  But find a way to both document and memorialize the year.  The outcome is priceless!

KIDNAP YOUR SENIOR

DSC_0084

The pace of the summer following B’s senior year was exceptionally hectic.  He was working full time, preparing for his departure to college and capitalizing on every free minute he could grab to be with friends.  Meanwhile, I was a chauffeur extraordinaire for my 15 year old, who packed his summer with a part time job, community service, pitching and hitting lessons and travel baseball tournaments almost every weekend.  It was obvious early on that it would be close to impossible to schedule our traditional family get away to the Outer Banks.  The only natural alternative was to head out to Colorado a few days early, in order to steal some much needed family time before our family unit as we knew it would be forever changed.

What started as a fall back option, proved to be an exceptional family experience.  One of the unexpected benefits of this plan became clear even before we left town.  Since we knew we’d have B 100% to ourselves for 4 days prior to D-day (dorm move in day), it was easy to let him spend his last week at home, basically not home at all.  His friends took priority, and there was no battle for his time.  This allowed us to freely honor his relationships with his friends – and that felt awesome!

When it was our turn, we were all 100% in!  It didn’t hurt that we were up in the mountains with little to no cell service or wi-fi.  It was 4 full days of family fun; endless card games, adventures white water rafting and ATV’ing, media free days and nights, pick up basketball games, bear sightings and more.  It was beyond perfect!

IMG_8104

I have no idea where my “baby” will end up going to college.  But I do know, regardless of location – we’ll be planning a family escape just prior to his D-day.  There’s just something sacred about that time, and I’m grateful I didn’t have to share B those last few days before he officially became a college student.

Perhaps these aren’t the perfect ways for you to capture, commemorate or create memories for you and your high school senior.  But hopefully they will inspire you to find a way to honor and mark the milestones of your child’s last year of high school (and at home).

with Joy, Gratitude & Love,