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13 Signs Your Kid is Graduating from High School and You’re Totally Losing It

13 Signs Your Kid is Graduating from High School and You’re Totally Losing It(1)

(photo credit: Lee De Monico for

If you're like me, you've never paid much attention to "graduation season hoopla" until you realized this is the year that will adorn your child's tassel on their high school graduation cap.

Now that you've accepted the reality that you're a parent of a high school senior, you're probably wandering around in a complex emotional state that ranges from pride to panic, all the while utterly perplexed by how fast the time has gone.

You're not alone, and you're not crazy. But in case you're not convinced, here's a checklist of common symptoms that represent every parent's journey through the temporary insanity during this season of life.

  1. You've turned into mom-parazziobsessed with taking photos and videos of them throughout senior year because you’re haunted by the fact that you haven’t actually completed a photo album since their first year of life.
  2. There’s a box of graduation announcements sitting on the dining room table, but You. Can’t. Even. Go. There.
  3. You suddenly feel guilty for EVER missing one of their sporting events and have vowed to attend EVERY SINGLE game this spring—even the “away” games. (Even very far away games.)
  4. You stare at the atrocity of their bedroom, deeply concerned for their lack of laundry competence but secretly thrilled that they’ll soon have to face this challenge on their own.
  5. You start panicking and make a list of essential life skills you still need to teach them.
  6. You take some stealth measurements of their bedroom and wonder how long you need to wait after they leave before it's OK to turn it into a home gym.
  7. You realize you can’t afford to buy home gym equipment (or even a gym membership) because you’ve recently discovered the brutal reality of what it’s actually going to cost to send your kid to college.
  8. You contemplate setting things on fire while trying to navigate the online FAFSA process (AKA the 8th circle of hell).
  9. You’re fanatically savoring their “lasts”—their last Easter at home, last prom, last practice, last game, last band concert, and their last awards banquet.
  10. There’s not a single day in May that you don’t have SOMETHING scheduled that relates to their graduation.
  11. You find yourself awkwardly inserting random tidbits of “life advice for the future” into every conversation with them.
  12. Your senior brings home a form about “cap & gown” fitting and it totally takes your breath away.
  13. You’ve become that person who wistfully advises parents of young children to enjoy every moment because it goes by so very, very fast.

And amid the tears, you begin to embrace the process of truly letting them go.

After all--graduation is not just about a season that's ending; it's about a new season that's just beginning.

So, dear parent--though it may feel like high school graduation signals the final curtain call of parenthood, I promise you that it's not over yet.

In truth, your influence is going to become even more important during these upcoming years.

Your son or daughter is entering into one of the most spiritually and personally formative times in their life, and they're going to need your wisdom, support and love more than ever.

Once they walk across the stage and get their diploma, they'll soon be making an enthusiastic beeline out the door to face life in the real world. And once they encounter a few challenges of young adulthood, they'll seek your advice instead of snarling at it.

So grab your camera and extra Kleenex start planning for all of the new ways to stay connected after their high school years come to a close.

And keep reminding yourself that for everyone, the best is yet to come.

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Written by Kami Gilmour, mom of 5 teen and young adult kids. She's the author of a best-selling book that chronicles her imperfect journey of parenting in this season with a refreshing sense honesty, humor, and practical insights:  Release My Grip: Hope for a Parent's Heart as Kids Leave the Nest and Learn to Fly. more.


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Showing 20 comments
  • Erik w/a "k"

    Great post Kami! I have one more year till I hit this for the first time, but I know I will hit almost all of those categories.

    • Carol

      From one mom of 5 to another, great read!!!

  • Dawn

    Oh my goodness! I can relate to every one of these!
    Can I share this on my FB pages? My friends will love it!
    After each of mine left for college, for weeks I couldn’t even walk in their bedrooms without tearing up.
    But good news…the empty nest does have some advantages. Although you will always miss your babies!

    • Kami Gilmour

      Hi Dawn! Glad you can relate! Share away!! 🙂

  • Amy DePew

    So true. I would add that you just randomly cry all the see a little guy at the mall that reminds you of your son (you cry), you find his old blanket when cleaning his closet out (you cry), you squeeze every hug out of him every chance you get, and secretly think about sleeping in his bed and sobbing that first night he’s gone…

    • Josie

      Love this cuz I totally do this. In fact was thinking today that I could see myself curled up in his bed suffocating myself with his pillows just to get his smell…

  • Reply

    Brilliant. I am the mom of a HS junior, and I can already see every one of these being 100% TRUE! Oh my word. As it is, I cannot believe I am at the point where I even need to pay attention to this. Am pinning to save and share with all my mom friends when they hit this stage.

  • Anne

    You made me cry. It is so hard. I am the mom of triplets graduating in May and this is so true times 3 for me! Thanks for the words of encouragement and the blessing.

    • Kami Gilmour

      Oh, Anne! I cannot even imagine how hard it must be to have three graduate at once! Hugs to you in this season–it’s OK to cry! (and I promise you it gets a lot easier…)

    • Sarah

      I have triplet boys graduating this May, too. Loved this article.

  • Teresa

    My “bonus” child is graduating. You know…the one who came along later in life and seemed like would never grow up…never leave mom. I’m so thankful for him and will let him slip thru my fingers but never out of my heart…just not today, thank God.

  • Kami M.

    What sucks the most is when it’s your last baby soon graduating.

  • Cara

    I have to agree with everything you wrote on this list, especially about FAFSA! LOL!
    However, our calendar is full through April and May… no rest for the weary.

  • Julie

    So glad to know that I am not alone. My oldest (of 3) is graduating. All I keep seeing is the empty chair at the dinner table. Trying to have fun and enjoy the ride – with tears.

  • Harshita Thadhani

    I wish I could post all the emotions I feel as my baby heads to college but like I tell everyone she breathes and I hear her that’s how close we are to each other and I am sure I am sharing the same sentiment of every

  • Reply

    This is so right on! My emotions have been all over the place, I hated the FAFSA form and I have turned it to that person who tells moms of younger kids to not blink! I wrote a letter to my class of 2016 son on my blog that everyone has read and loved…accept for him…can’t get him to read it! But I wish I would have written a piece like this one. So well done! Class of 2016 Mamas hang in there! What a ride our kids senior year has been! Congrats to the grads!

  • Reply

    Just left a comment and I spelled accept wrong…meant to say except…another symptom of this senior-year-your-kid-is-about-to-graduate-fog….I have been scatterbrained and oh so emotional and joyful all in one! Again, your article is SO good and I loved every word of it! Thank you!!

  • Dianne Williams

    I am feeling all of this and I am the Gradmother, I will miss my grandson so very much. I will just have to make sure I am there for my daughter, she is still my baby.

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