Is This Really Happening?
Taking my Teenager to his Senior Pictures shoot yesterday, I had an overwhelming feeling as if our lives together had come full circle. The day I found out I was pregnant I was a Senior in High School. I was 3 months away from graduation and scared out of my mind. I knew that from that moment forward my life would be different. I wasn’t going to be just a Teenager anymore. That freedom and seemingly carefree life was never going to be the same anymore. I was going to be someone’s mother. I was 17 and knew that the odds were against me but I was determined to beat those odds. When I found out, my grandmother sat me down and told me she was going to be there for me no matter what. She assured me that I could do this. I could not only finish High School but I could go to college, as planned, finish and still be the mother I wanted to be. Guess what? I believed her. So that’s exactly what I set out to do.
It Wasn’t That Long Ago…
I was almost 3 weeks pregnant when I’d taken my Senior Pictures. I got ready and smiled pretty for the camera the entire time fighting the overwhelming nausea and feeling of dizziness that seemed to take up my entire day lately. Whew! I made it. I took the pretty formal shots with my black satin top with the dip in front. I felt so fancy. Senior pictures were a big deal. They were a milestone in a teenager’s life. That point where senior year became real. That day, I knew something was going on with my body but was in denial as to what it may be. I went home knowing that eventually I would have to face the reality that I may be pregnant. When my suspicions were confirmed, my grandmother stood by my side. She was there every step of the way and I actually made it through the rest of the school year. June came and I made it down that aisle with honors! I had my precious baby boy in the fall and started college that winter. I was doing it. I was a mother and a woman and I was doing them both to the fullest…
As a Teenage mother, I faced a lot of challenges and setbacks. I went to my first college interview 8 1/2 months pregnant (and I was huge to say the least) and although the admissions officer presented herself as being sympathetic and supportive all I felt were eyes of judgment from around the office. Then when they reviewed my academic records and saw my 3.8 GPA they realized the fact that I had the grades needed to be there the attitudes changed. I was even able to secure a job within the Admissions Office for when I started. (This is one of those moments I would call #828Blessings… “All things work together for the good… Romans 8:28) Once in school, I excelled simply because I worked myself ragged. It was as if I had something to prove to my baby. I wanted him to know that I wasn’t going to let him down no matter what. I went to a part time job as a Paralegal Intern from 8am -10am; then to classes from 10:30 to 2pm. I would go home and feed him (I pumped at night for my grandmother to feed him while I was in class) and then go back to class for evening schedule from 6pm-9pm. My schedule would vary between day and evening classes to accommodate my job but I managed it and graduated in 1998 with my Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies and left with a full-time position as a Paralegal for a Law Firm. My motivation for all of it was my baby boy. I felt if I could just excel and achieve my goals for him then I could be the example he needed to do the same.
Now nearly 17 years later, I was standing in a photography studio with that same baby boy watching him get ready to take his Senior Pictures. I can hardly believe it. My life has come nearly full circle. How can this boy who I cradled in my arms and prayed over nearly everyday singing to him how I would never leave him be getting ready to leave me to go to college? Is this really happening? Are we really at this point? Yes. It was all worth it. I didn’t do everything right. I made mistakes. I made some bad choices and no I wasn’t always the perfect Mother, but who ever is? I was the best Mother I could be and I loved him more than my life. I gave him all of me at all times and I tried to make sure I raised him with the a foundation build on Christian values and the belief that if you serve God and seek His face His favor will follow you.
As we drove to the appointment today, I kept glancing over at him astonished at how grown up he actually looked. I guess in the day-to-day hustle and grind of life I missed the man he has become. The bit of peach fuzz under the chin and over his lip, the change in his physique. Where is my baby boy? Who is this Teenager sitting next to me? Earphones plugged in nearly 24/7 and always into his music…? Is this still my boy? Of course he is. He always will be. I will always be Mommy and he will always be the one gave me that Honor first.
When we get to the studio I watch him getting his trombone out of the truck and asking me to make sure he can take pictures with it and I feel such pride in his accomplishments. Not only has he been in concert band since Elementary school but now he is in Marching Band and this year he has earned the role of Section Leader. This young man is leading other young people and he’s doing it well. The days I wondered if I was too young to be responsible for a baby, if I was ready, if I even knew what I was doing. The prayers, tears and work has come to this day. To this young man I see walking towards me. Thank you Lord for your many blessings. Things could have gone much differently. Everyday I whisper a praise of thankfulness for keeping him safe. Yes, he has had some of the normal Teenage slip ups and trip ups but all in all nothing major and I know that is only by the grace of God.
Then we get to the front desk and the girl checking people in can’t be much older than my Teenager. I immediately sense his interest and smile to myself. We start selecting session packages and backgrounds. He picks the ‘Blue Matrix’ which is okay but not something I would have picked but I let it go since they are his Senior Pictures right? Then I tell him I want at least one background that has the American Flag in it because all of the others seem to be graffiti, digital or kinda
cheesy I mean uh average. He protests but I pull Momma rank and I initially select one called the ‘Country Store’ because he has a Flag with a Cocoa Cola machine. When we go to sign up for everything I mention I only picked it for the flag and the guy tells me that we can actually get one that is just the flag hanging by itself. I am grateful and we pick that one instead. I guess it’s the Army Family pride in me coming out…LOL
Next came the waiting game. It was a bit of a wait too. There were kids who were getting a Deluxe package which includes like 4 different poses with about 5 backgrounds. Personally I felt that was overkill. There was even a kid there (a boy) whose mom was actually plucking and brushing his eyebrows while we waited!!! I was totally in shock. I mean do people really take Senior Pictures that seriously? Apparently so…
When we were called we started with the Teenager’s pick of the ‘Blue Matrix’ background…
Next was my selection of the American Flag…
This one actually took about 35-40 minutes to get done because the photographer was trying to get a certain kind of lighting aspect where he was lit from the back and the front. Unfortunately the lamp was not cooperating. When she finally started working it came out awesome! I can’t wait for the proofs!
Lastly, we did the Formal portraits. We were laughing because even though my Teenager’s physique has changed, he is still on the slim size and the girl who was handing out the Tuxedo jackets gave him the smallest one they have and it was still too big. So he turns to me and says, “I blame you for this. You made me this small.” LOL
Once the photo shoot was over I truly had to contain my emotions because I knew if I showed too much my Teenager would have a field day with me. Yet this day meant a lot to me. Senior Picture day for me was filled with anxiety, worry and anticipation of what was ahead of me not because I was a normal teenager headed to college but because I was a Teenager headed to motherhood. Then to be with my child on that same day in his life and watch him be able to experience it. I felt relieved that with God’s help, guidance and my grandmother and husband’s support we were able to make to this day. Now to see what the future holds as he continues to grow as a Teenager and eventually and Young Man.
Do you have any milestone events you’ve shared with your Teenager?
How have you handled the emotions they may have brought on?