Milestones Look Different for All of Us


    Our children’s paths should not look like ours, but sometimes they are so foreign that I fear mine is missing out on some of life’s great milestones and memories.
    I have a daughter who is in her senior year of high school. I know better than to compare lives on social media, but I have friends with similar-aged kids posting homecoming pictures, what colleges they are touring, or senior photo shoot sneak peeks. Not me.

    And that’s ok.

    Her journey has always looked different, and I guess I have had 17 years to come to terms with this very moment in time. She won’t be heading off to a 4-year college in the fall because she isn’t ready to live independently. She won’t be going to homecoming or prom (she did try that last year, I have to admit) because that would set her anxiety through the roof. No senior pictures for us either because she didn’t want to take off her sunglasses (prescription ones, mind you) because looking people in the eye makes her uncomfortable. And at this point, we’ll probably say no to a graduation ceremony because large crowds are like a nail in the coffin for her.

    Why would I want to do anything that would bring my child misery and anguish just because I feel she is missing out? I don’t. So, I will continue to cheer my friends and their kids on from the sidelines. I will continue to like and love the things they are posting. But most importantly, I will support my daughter with what she wants to do to mark this milestone in her life, whatever that might look like.

    Focus on asking what things bring them joy.

    Remember, if you have mom friends with high school seniors who aren’t sharing every “last” moment. Don’t ask them what’s wrong or go on about their child’s plans after high school. Instead, try focusing on asking how their child is doing or what things bring them joy. Let’s make this senior year one in which we can celebrate all seniors – not just those that are on one certain path.

    Success comes in many forms, and the path there is varied. It’s what makes it interesting.

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    Tracy is the Director of Programming and Partnerships for Darkness to Light, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. She grew up in northeast Ohio, and has lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Northern Virginia and has worked in the arts, in education, in non-profits and in ed tech. Her husband's job brought them to the Bay Area and there's no looking back! Tracy is mom to two trans teens who are just beginning their journey. Self-care includes pedicures, reading, cooking, crafting, and just being with her family. She also serves as Chair of the Board for the Attachment and Trauma Network, a national non-profit.


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