The end of the beginning. The beginning of the rest.

Today is Hailey’s first day of their senior year so we went outside to take our annual photo and I got a bit teary when I told Hailey that this will probably be my last time taking a first-day-of-school photo. The look on their face when I said that was of excitement, and wonder and fear and it was the perfect photo in that moment:

And they said that they would ask their roommate to take a picture of them for me on their first day of college, which was very nice but I explained that probably I’d be there too, secretly taking a picture with a telephoto lens so that they had privacy and could live their life with autonomy but that they should be prepared for me to yell, “STAND UP STRAIGHT” from my hiding spot in the parking lot and that probably I wouldn’t be the only mom hiding in a parking lot and the other moms hiding in their cars or perched in tree branches would be like, “Fucking THANK YOU, why do they never stand up straight?” and then suddenly the whole flock of college freshmen would scatter like spooked deer but that I hoped they’d look back and smile for a moment so I could get one good shot in before the police removed me.

Anyway, that’s how it’s going over here. How are you?

120 thoughts on “The end of the beginning. The beginning of the rest.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Both my littles are at school all day and I am…not sure what to do with myself. (Youngest only had 2 half days this week so far and I AM NOT READY FOR HIM TO BE SCHOOL-AGED!)

    So I am trying and FAILING to not be a huge fucking mess about it.

  2. Goodness, they look so much like you. I mean, I always saw it but here, wow,
    As an aside, if I had a penny for every time my father told me to stand up straight, I’d be retired already.

  3. Did they decide to go back to in-person classes for senior year, or are they doing mostly/all online? (Envisioning you stalk-picturing them during the school day as well). Either way, I hope Hailey’s senior year is all the fun and excitement and just a bit of nerves for whatever comes after graduation that it’s supposed to be. 🙂

  4. Beautiful photo!!! Tears in my eyes reading this. . . and I don’t have any kids to send off to school.

  5. My son (my only) is heading off to college in ONE MONTH! ARGHHH! I’m going to be a wreck. I’m trying to focus on how I will be able to focus on who I am, etc but GOD DAMN I’M GOING TO MISS HIM!!!

  6. My oldest is a college freshman starting soon, so I relate!! I also have a high school freshman starting next week. 🤩
    😱🥹 where does the time go?!
    People always tell you: “they grow up so fast”! But I don’t think one really gets it until one has their own kids.
    I sit here n think to myself: how did they get to be this old? Because I’ve been here the whole time and I haven’t aged a day! 😉😜

  7. I was never able to have children. I can understand why you would do the completely. Hailey is gorgeous, you have done a brilliant job.

  8. Awww, ya done good, Mom! They are moving on to such wonderful adventures and both you and Victor have taught them well. (They are SUCH a “mini me”, makes me SMH every time. I wonder if you will have any dresses left in your closet after they leave! LOL)
    Doing OK over here….broke my arm up in the shoulder a week ago today, so just hanging out in my recliner, doing as little as possible!

  9. How are these things possible? I graduated from college 30 YEARS AGO, and yet I remember sitting in my first class on my first day like it was yesterday.

    Hailey looks amazing and I’m trying to restrain myself from exclaiming how much they look like you because you’ve heard it a thousand times but it is TRUE! ❤️

  10. My oldest (of two) is also starting his senior year of high school. I thoroughly look forward to sharing this end of the beginning and the beginning of the rest with you, Jenny! Your prospective on all things–for me–helps keep all things more objective. Thank you!

  11. Children grow up in the blink of an eye. Tomorrow you will post a photo of Hailey graduating from college.

  12. Do yourself a favor and DO NOT put this pic next to the kindergarten pic. Trust me.

  13. I’ve had to send reminders, but my have always obliged with first day of class pics/selfies 🙂

  14. My oldest is just starting 8th grade but all of you with seniors are making me fast forward mentally and…it’s not good. Excuse me as I go cry in a corner.

    Hailey looks wonderful. They have such an expressive face in all the pictures you post. I hope they have a beautiful, exciting, happy senior year!

  15. My daughter takes a first day of school photo every year and sends it to me. She starts her senior year of college in September.

  16. I love this! Great photo! Good luck to Hailey! I have a son who hasn’t let me take pictures of him except for Certain occasions like first day of school and some holidays. When he went to college it became a move in day picture. After he graduated from college I got to cash in on one random day as a trade for not having school anymore. So he usually lets me do it when we have a visit.

  17. Perfection. All this stuff is so hard, but entirely worth it. She looks so much like you – beautiful.

  18. My oldest son is starting is last year in college, my middle child is starting college this year, and my youngest son is starting his senior year in high school. As of right now I’m really excited of the possibility of getting everyone out of the house. But check back with me at the end of the year.

  19. A year ahead of you. It hit me when we bought two round trip tickets to the college town but a one way ticket for our daughter. Still have her for a month. Then the nest is empty. Prayer chain? CBD sodas?

  20. Girl, I set the table for my first born his entire first year at college. Hugs to you dearest and best of luck c/m to sweet Hailey.

  21. My son leaves for college NEXT WEEK. It will be the furthest away he’s ever lived from me.
    I am simultaneously thrilled and sad.

  22. Did she scatter like a deer in the headlights after you told them? I call it “managing expectations”

  23. I completely understand. Both of my kids sent (send, my son is starting his 4th year of college in a few weeks) me selfies on their first day of class. I get a lot of mumbling but they know how much it means to me.

  24. This one is hard, but I always took one on the last day of school too, and that one was the worst for me. The smile on their faces though: worth it.

  25. Mine starts senior year on Aug 22. I’ve already been freaking out for months. I will totally be hiding in the parking lot with you next year!

  26. You miss them so much. You worry about them. You hope you’ve given them the tools to make good decisions and meet each challenge. You love them when they do and when they don’t. Hailey seems like they will succeed no matter what, at whatever they do. With you as a role model, how could they not?

  27. I drop my twins at separate colleges for the first time in 10 days. Definitely not ready.

  28. I have a friend who did first day of school all the way thru completion of PhD.

  29. My kids knew how important first day of school pics are to me, so each year at college they’d take a selfie and send that to me. When my daughter became a teacher herself, the traditional continued!

  30. I just took my 6 yr old to kindergarten “camp” and after the preliminary speech they sent the children off and were like, “ok byeeee parents, see you at 2” and I nearly (read: totally did) made a fool out of myself freaking out because Maggie didn’t know (nor did I) that I was supposed to leave her! I’m at home doing that nervous, manic cleaning and sipping a beer because – I don’t even know what to do.

  31. I will also be in the bushes next month as my son starts his first day of college. I will try and be discreet but if I get made, I will try my best to act like a clueless and very old Freshman.

  32. My daughter just turned 6 months old and yeah, that will be me on her first year at uni!

  33. As another mom of a high school senior, you’ve got that right! We’ll make it through this wonderful/terrifying year!

  34. Parents getting their move in photo for first day of college and then going to their vehicle to cry their eyes out after their student tells them it is time to go is a time honored tradition! You don’t have to hide in the bushes.
    Don’t worry, they are usually a little homesick (even though they might not tell you) by Thanksgiving or Christmas break, and then it gets easier to have each of you let go a little more each year after that.
    Hailey looks wonderful! Tell them to enjoy and make the most of this year, and that anytime they want to call to winge about how hard college is, or bring laundry home, or visit for the weekend during their first year at college, you’ll be there to welcome their phone call or visit anytime day or night. Them knowing that you’ll still be their safety net while they are trying their wings of independence, is the best gift you can give them besides the marvelous skills you gave them when they were in your care full time.

  35. Lavinia, #9, I read “stalking” as “striking” and was both horrified and amused. 🤣

  36. Yep, I have been scouting my stakeout spot outside my child’s soon-to-be college dorm since May. Hadn’t thought about using it for a first day of school picture spot, but I’ll be on the lookout for other moms now! Good luck with this year of lasts, but also lots of what’s nexts, which can be scary and fun!

  37. Good luck to Hailey in their senior year! Tomorrow is my grandson’s first day of high school. He sent me a picture yesterday of his new haircut; he had 16” cut off and he looks way too grown up now. 💞

  38. Having our kiddo go off to college was so hard, especially for my wife who really struggled with her baby leaving the nest. As it turns out, the baby didn’t really want to leave either, so they talked on the phone literally every day for the first year or so. That helped them both so much!

  39. Mine starts tomorrow and my older kiddo is moving 1400 miles away on Monday. It’s a lot for my mom heart to take.

  40. Not much that I could say that hasn’t already been said, so I’ll just add this: Pancakes. And Bacon.

  41. What a lovely picture! I can’t believe college is coming up so fast for them, I’ve never even met them but I’ve watched them grow up on your blog and now only a year away from college?? (So, joke time, I’ve literally responded to ‘stand up straight’ with ‘there is nothing straight about me’ in the past, lol)

  42. This is fantastic! I’ve sent this along to my brother and sis-in-law whom are dropping off their daughter this week to her first year in college. She’ll be over 2200 miles away across the US. They sent me her official freshman college photo and I got teary eyed so I can only imagine the emotion they and you feel at this time. *Safe distance healthy internet hugs*

  43. I love this moment capture in time! You’re leaving the season of ‘lasts’ and entering the wonderful season of ‘firsts’. You both will love this time and perhaps find you’re still welcome in their world. But from a distance, of course! 🧡

  44. My oldest still claims I dropped her off, screeched out of the parking lot and never looked back. Untrue, I hung out until it was practically dark then cried all the way home to NH. Adult kids are so great.

  45. I’m sending my only to college next month and experiencing SO MANY FEELINGS. sigh

  46. Enjoy every second! I’m sorry to say, it will fly. Then the excitement, and fear of leaving for college begins. Enjoy the excitement!
    When my girls were in college, I always asked for a 1st day picture. I did not always get one. My very last 1st day was last year. 2 months after college graduation, my youngest moves from our home in NJ to Orlando, where she landed a dream job in Disney World! I have yet to receive my requested picture of her in her uniform and she is 3 weeks in. My oldest went to college in NC and stayed to teach.
    Enjoy the ride! From preschool to graduation. It really does pass too quickly but every stage has its own excitement. I miss my girls being little but I also enjoy them as adults.
    Best wishes for Hailey’s Senior year snd good luck to all of you with every phase of your childrens’ lives.

  47. I just dropped my youngest at college 3400km away a few days ago, and walking away from her to fly home was literally one of the hardest things I have ever done. She is managing significant anxiety about the move, and it’s been so difficult to watch her struggle when she’s normally so confident and “in charge”. But she’s working through it hour by hour and day by day and each day is getting easier (for both of us). My biggest regret is I was so concerned about her and so caught up helping her cope that I didn’t get a photo of her in her new dorm room with her new roommate as I had planned to. Sigh. Treasure this last year of high school, it was truly special as a parent to watch my daughter start to take those early steps to full independent adulthood.

  48. My teen goes to their first day of high school next week. I get queasy and teary and happy all at once when I think about it.

  49. I can still envision the last “First Day of School” photo I took of my daughter. It was as she climbed into her car, and I’m pretty sure there was an eyeroll involved. Next month her daughter will start her 1st day of Kindergarten. :::sigh:::

  50. Wouldn’t maybe be better to let them slouch and go on stalking? For the greater good, I mean?

  51. Wonderful photo! Mine are done with school, but today was my son’s first shift as a firefighter/EMT. Very early start so no “first day of work photo” before he left (he was too nervous and I didn’t want to add to it) but I told him to be prepared to take one when he gets home. They’re never too old for a “first day of…” photo!

  52. Im crying all over again! That’s how my morning went, except it is our second to last time I will be taking a first day of school photo of my youngest. Ugh.

  53. I’m crying. And laughing. And totally not ready to take my daughter’s last first day photo next week.

  54. They are beautiful. (And they look like their mom, which is not what any teenager wants to hear, lol.)

  55. The two most important things to give your child are roots and wings ❤️

  56. I love how supportive you and Victor are of precious Hailey. I love that you have taken their first day of school photos all their life. You could do a gorgeous collage or art piece after this last photo with all the photos placed together somehow!

    I hope you and Victor know that they will remember all the little moments that you made them feel important and special throughout their childhood and life. It truly matters a lot.

    I didn’t really have moments like these growing up, but I’m very happy for those who have.

    Only one more year of high-school left..they did this during a pandemic and all. It’s truly impressive!! Good for them!

  57. But don’t worry too much. There will be a lot of bonding(arguing) over dorm supplies, bedspreads, and budgets before that freshman semester, and yep, you’ll cry, but also be slightly relieved!

  58. I’m feeling this so much right now. Good luck to you and Hailey and all us moms who are trying to just get a glimpse of our baby deer without spooking them.

  59. OMG. I was that stalker parent, only I did it by monitoring his ATM withdrawals. “Is he still okay? Did he take money out of his account today?” Also checked the chat groups he monitored. He was so young…I was so worried. Turned out, I had good reason to be!

    They, and you, are a beauty sorely needed in this world.

  60. I know! Just when I think I’ve gotten used
    my daughter being one age, she goes and gets older!

  61. When you are ready for a sloppy sobbing, hopefully cathartic cry, turn to Brad Paisley’s “Last Time for Everything.” I

  62. I wish the best year ever for Hailey! My son is a senior in high school, too. He doesn’t start until September, so I’ll be feeling this way in about four weeks, It’s always nice to know someone shares ALL your feelings and plans for their college careers. See you in the parking lot next year!

  63. Oh goodness! What an emotional day! I wish you both the best! And since you asked, my day has been AMAZING! I just received the best job offer and I’m so excited!!

  64. I also have a high school senior this year. My second (and last) child. It’s bittersweet for sure. Stocking up on camo gear for hiding in bushes. In a non- creepy way, of course. ❤️

  65. My daughter just started her senior year, too. It’s going to be a year of many lasts. It’s exciting and dreadful at the same time.

  66. I feel this so hard. My baby is starting high school. I am currently trying to see if security at the high school where I work can get a live feed from my sons school!

  67. Whoa! They look so much like you in that photo! My oldest son started college last year and I did text him and ask him to take a first day of school picture. He took a selfie by the door to his dorm. He knows his mama. My younger son is a junior this year and, while I will ask him when he goes to college in a couple of years, he isn’t likely to do it – LOL. Enjoy your year, Jenny, and have a great time, Hailey!

  68. So true. Dropped my sophomore aged daughter off at camp this summer. One in which I knew she would be roaming around a large university campus (albeit with at least one other person). Thoughts in my head were, I should sit in the car just around the corner (perhaps behind a bush or tree) just to be a “resource” (wink, wink, nod, nod). In the end we all get there I guess. Some of us just have better optics and tree climbing capabilities.

  69. That’s a beautiful photo and I wish them all the best in their last year (sigh). Over here, we had to make the decision about whether our 9-year old son would go back to school in person, or continue homeschooling with his dad. This is no longer about the pandemic, and it’s not about religion (we’re not religious, or trying to shelter him from curriculum of any sort). Some would say it’s about fear, and disappointment about the reaction (or lack thereof) of our schools in regards to recent events. Whatever the reasons, it was our decision alone, and it was never going to be easy. We elected to keep him home, so there will be no back-to-school photos. My heart breaks no matter what we choose for him.

  70. Taking last year’s first day of senior year was super tear-inducing for me too, especially since we didn’t know what would come next for our autistic teen. We were frankly overwhelmed with trying to figure out what to do or how to help him, since there aren’t a lot of resources where we live for disabled adults. If you googled “Adult Day Center”, they were all for seniors, not disabled adults who are (at least right now) unable to hold a job, etc.

    Fortunately, our district got a new ‘director of special populations’ over the summer and opened a door that had been slammed in our face by her predecessor. So next week we have an ARD meeting (which is more formality than anything) and he’ll start going to the high school’s Adult Disabled Student program where they’ll work with him on interview skills, basic cooking skills and things that we’ve tried to teach him but he’s been resistant to learning from us because he is as stubborn as a 40 mule team (which he gets from both of us LOL).

  71. This was me with my oldest and it will be me with my youngest in a few days. You may get more first day of school photos in the future whether from a roommate or a telephoto lens, but they won’t be the same. Hailey is likely too young to appreciate the difference but other mommas do. This is such a bittersweet time. It brings such joy to see them step into young adulthood, but such longing as well.

  72. Right there with you, sister. My only child starts senior year on Wednesday. How did we get here?!

  73. I had my college-age son send me a first day of school pic for those 4 years. It’s not the same, but he played along. He also sent me a “first day at first degree-related job” picture too. I love that kid 🤣.

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  76. OMG! Its been too too long since ive seen your wonderful blog and extraordinary child! Hailey is so gorgeous and thyere obviously made of all the beautiful pieces of you and Victor!

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