This past week the sunshine showed up.

It was perfect timing.

For us, it was the last day of school (from our living room) and the start of summer and picnicking and movie marathons and snowcones and late-night discussions in the back yard with marshmallows and chocolate and fireflies.

I almost cried a little as I just typed those words.

The last day of school as a junior.

And the start of the twin’s senior year.

Yes. It’s true.

SENIORS 2021 here we come.

I was cleaning out a box in the attic of all the twin’s school stuff to get ready for senior videos and senior announcements and all the things that go along with getting ready to let your last two chicks leave the nest. There, tucked among good neighbor certificates and fifth-grade math homework and faded flowers from an eighth-grade dance was a handwritten contract scrolled in hand-written cursive.

The best part?

Behind every good contract is a story—especially one good enough to tell again.

Fall (2)

After the twins were born, I stood in the middle of my living room one evening bleary-eyed from lack of sleep with hair that hadn’t been washed in a week, wearing pajamas covered in spit-up…..

…..and wailed plaintively to my mother.

“How can I do this?”

“I’m not going to make it.”

“They are totally winning.”

Then I wiped my face and brushed the hair away from my eyes, inhaled and exhaled several times and stood patiently waiting for her words of wisdom.  I mean, after all, my mother is brilliant (and getting more brilliant with every year that passes) and experienced and wise….

….and has never met a good piece of advice she didn’t like.

Fall (3)

But for once she didn’t say a word.

She just took one look at me and laughed.

And laughed.

And laughed some more.

And then she offered up this sage piece of wisdom that made my heart beat faster and my palms sweat and shivers run up and down my spine.

“This is nothing…..just wait until they are teenagers.”

Fall (1)

That was 12 years ago.

But I’ve never forgotten it.

Sometimes I would look at those cherubic faces and sweet smiles and tiny hands tucked into mine and bright blue eyes that were full of wonder and joy.  I’d listen to those little voices chirping out the funniest things that made me laugh out loud….

…..and think about what she said.

Fall (4)

Was it possible?

Could they?

Would they one day roll their eyes at me and say things like “Whatever” and “I am so sure” and toss their hair and stomp their feet….

…..and demand a tattoo and jeans full of holes that cost $200.

Fall (5)

And even though I worried, I thought I kept all these concerns to myself.

Truly.

I mean why borrow trouble?  Why give anyone ideas about what might be ahead on the horizon?  I wasn’t even sure they understood that sometimes being a teenager could be challenging for parents.

Until the other day.

When the twins trooped into the kitchen whispering and laughing and hiding something behind their back.

“Ummm….mom.  We have something we want to show you.  Something to make you feel better.  Something so you won’t worry.”

Two sets of twinkling blue eyes looked at each other conspiratorially and then smiled at me with mischievous grins.

“This is for you, mom.”

Contract

It was a one-day-I’m-going-to-be-a-really-nice-teenager contract, written on a purple piece of construction paper scrawled in their own handwriting that read:

“I promise that I will try to be a good and nice teenager.

And if I am not….you may pull out this contract and show me.

I will try to be nice and kind to all people around me

and follow rules

and ten commandments.

Thank you for your appreciation.”

And at the end it was signed and dated.

Super official looking.

Fall (6)

I wanted to laugh.

I wanted to cry.

I wanted to call my mother and tell her she was wrong because the next couple of years would be a breeze.

I mean….after all…..I had a contract, right?

But I didn’t.

I simply smiled and told them how proud I was and tucked that purple construction paper contract away in a drawer for safe-keeping.

Just between us.

I never needed that contract.

They’ve followed the kind rule and obeyed a few of the ten commandments and made me one of the proudest moms on the planet.

But now?

When their senior year is finished, I need them to write another.

One about phone calls from college.

And inviting us to parent’s day at school.

And promising not to forget me.

And understanding that if they ever need a safe place to land…

…I’ll always be home.

PS  Have a little more coffee left?

Here’s another story about growing up.

And one more for the road. 🙂

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Comments

  1. Image for Nicole Nicole

    I can't believe there are going to be Seniors! I started following you when they were still in Middle school! We are still "in" school (from our kitchen) here in MD but my oldest is leaving elementary school to start middle school this fall. And I can't believe how the time goes. When he was a baby, the days felt sooooo long. I couldn't imagine making it till he was 5, more or less Middle School. So from one Mom to another, soak up every minute of time with them; you worked hard to get here!

  2. Image for TERESA GONZALES TERESA GONZALES

    Yes the hardest contract is in the letting go. Love your stories and so happy they abided by their earlier contract.

  3. Image for Jolyn Jolyn

    Awww.... such sweet times. But, SENIORS, already!?! Wowza! I love everything about this story. Here's to a great summer and a fabulous senior year!

  4. Image for Colleen Colleen

    Too precious! I think your mom is wise! As a mom I got good advice from my mom 25+ years ago when I felt like I had come to my breaking point with teenagers. She too laughed but she said "you have no choice!" Somehow we all make it and now I have 3 married adult children and 8 wonderful grandkids and I get to say to my adult children, "you have no choice" oh, and "good luck, there's more coming"!

  5. Image for Debbie Pennington Debbie Pennington

    Karianne, you my dear are a fabulous storyteller! I could read your writing all day long! When the girls go off to college, I think it's about time you become a book author so I could spend my days reading your sunshine and humor. Thank you for always making me smile! XO Debbie

  6. Image for Stacey Turner Stacey Turner

    Well reading this almost made me cry. I had all of your children in class and love them all. You have some great kids, and "The girls in the pink room," will always hold a special place in my heart.

  7. Image for Linda Linda

    Your stories are always so inspiring! What a wonderful mother you are! And those beautiful pictures of your girls — be still my heart! 🥰 I love your wreath of pictures, too. I think I may have to copy that.

  8. Image for Donnamae Donnamae

    Seniors already? Seems just like yesterday doesn’t it! My boys became men in that same time span. Wishing them and you a fun summer...and a great Senior Year!! ;)

  9. Image for Mary Caliendo Mary Caliendo

    Dear KariAnne, My heart is touched and tears are flowing as I too remember as my mini me went off to college. How sweet her smile as she told me, it will be alright mom. And you know it was...I taught she listened, she's a fine young woman with a very learned career. Now seeking advice on recipes and family history, with giggles and wine. Thank you for sharing this story of life and your sweet twins. Thank you my amazing friend.

  10. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    I can’t believe they are ready to be seniors. But, I have never once doubted that those blue eyed twins would be less than kind and keep that contract. What a priceless treasure they are and that sweet contract. Senior year was hard for me with my boys. I can’t imagine with girls. Of making sure that you have poured into them all they need to launch into the next phase of life. Praying for you sweet friend that the next year is wonderful and easier than anticipated. ❤️❤️❤️

  11. Image for Marty Marty

    The last ones leaving home is really a sobering moment. I remember feeling like I wasn't sure what to do with me. "Nobody needed a mom anymore". Well not on a full time all day basis anyway. They now needed me to be there even more for them, but with distance. As a single mom at the time this was really daunting. I am so proud of the people they were then and the people they are now. It seems they really did listen to me all those long years ago.

  12. Image for Regina Merrick Regina Merrick

    I can't believe they will be SENIORS next year!! Such beautiful girls - just like their mama! We've been finding all kinds of things as we clean out closets and basement - and I realize that the Lisa Frank company got a LOT of money from me in days past! Have a happy Wednesday, friend!

  13. Image for Margo Margo

    Oh My....all misty eyed over here....time flies, doesn’t it? My sweet little chickees are now grown women and it happened so quickly! Bravo to you for raising those KIND, soon-to-be-seniors who will always have a place to land. XOXO, M

  14. Image for Karen Mary Karen Mary

    What darling girls! That contract is the sweetest!I loved having teenagers, BTW. Despite all the warnings, I thought they were fun and delightful and creative. I learned a lot from them. As long as we all remembered we were on the same team, it was smooth (and fun) sailing!

  15. Image for Kris Kris

    Aww! My son will also be a senior in the fall. He and my daughter (she'll be in ninth grade--I'll have two in high school! To quote an old song, "I don't remember growing older; when did they???") have never given me reason to worry. We are blessed, aren't we?

  16. Image for Marlene Stephenson Marlene Stephenson

    God loves them and will take care of them when we are not around. I enjoy all your stories and know because of your wisdom and love they will be fine. Enjoy their Senior year.

  17. Image for Jenn Jenn

    Oh friend! I feel ya! My oldest will be a senior. It is time, I see that in him, he is more man than boy now. But the thought of him not being here every day...uggh it gives me a lump in my throat every time I think of it! I wonder is it harder with the first or the last? Your first was a son your last are daughters...that must be different too!?! Parenting is so sweet, and so wonderful, but doggone the emotions are not for the faint of heart! I also never bought the lie that the teenage years are awful. We have three teenagers in the house now, it is different, and louder, but it is Good! And so fun!!

  18. Image for Kristi Essman Kristi Essman

    Your stories are priceless! I am so glad you write them all down, your grandchildren will some day be so thankful and have so much fun reading all about their parents when they were kids. And it will warm your children's hearts to read them and feel all that love from you gushing out. You are the best mom they could ever have Karianne!

  19. Image for Kathy Kathy

    Oh, how sweet! Your girls are so pretty! I love that they are kind and have good hearts, like their mother! I hope their senior year will be wonderful!

  20. Image for Pamela Smith Pamela Smith

    I can hardly believe they are going to be seniors!! I have 2 daughters (not twins) and I enjoyed their high school years and into college. They have been a real blessing! Yes, there have been times of turmoil and attitude, but for the most part, we all did great together. I'm sure your girls are the same! Now my girls are out of school and on their own, but they still call and say they need their mom! Best ever!! Enjoy all the special times with your girls!

  21. Image for Marie Marie

    You are the best writer! I’ve been following you for years! I absolutely love the way your deck right and I just read everything and sometimes I cry. You always make it sound like I’m just sitting visiting with you and I love that! That one totally brought me to tears I have one that is going to be a senior next year too... We have to cherish these moments this year!! Thanks

  22. Image for MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!)

    KariAnne, I just love to read your posts. This one was so precious! Also, loved to see all the pictures! Your twins are beautiful and you have been a wonderful Mom! Your twins are so proud of you -- and always will be! How wonderful to see a family that is so close, so loving, so caring and loves the Lord! Your girls will always be there for you because of the precious Mom that you are -- and always will be! You and your dear hubby have done a fabulous job of raising your children! God bless you all!,

  23. Image for Michele M Michele M

    Ouch, Once again you have tears streaming down my face. I reared two lovely sisters with blonde hair and bright big blue eyes too.....and I remember Mom telling me that very thing. And she told me it would pass faster than I want it to in all its hormonal dramatic ways..........they would soon leave and well, just ouch. You brought up loving wonderful children. They won't be far away in your heart no matter where life takes them. Savor every moment. And know the next chapter is pretty fun to hear about too. Hugs of understanding. They grow way too fast. OK. I don't need more coffee but I just ran out of tissues,. My husband is giving me that look again. I told him "KA from Thistlewood" and he gently nodded and said he'd go get me the tissues. He knows.

  24. Image for Detra Coley Detra Coley

    This is so hard to believe! Our girls are nearly ready to leave the nest. I know they will be okay, but I can't help but remember a Candy Cane hunt when two little blondes from Texas met a little brunette from Kentucky and went on to form loving friendships. And so did their families. Love you all.

  25. Image for maureen maureen

    Your girls will ALWAYS need their mom! Your next step will be navigating them through their phone calls when they get homesick and are stressed out over a test. They will need those care packages that only you can send and a few prayers mixed in. You will be lonely for about 6 weeks and then you will switch gears and find quality time with your hubby. It all works out. The best is yet to come! I'm going to be a grandmother twice this year! I'm so excited!

  26. Image for june june

    I am reading this with those big drippy tears sliding down my cheeks. I cannot believe the girls are going to be seniors. I miss those days with my boys so much. Grab every single wave you can as they surf this last year of high school. So excited as a follower of your blog to be taken along for the ride.

  27. Image for Marilyn Marilyn

    Hard to believe your girls are going to be seniors. They are so lovely. You do not have to worry about them being kind and thoughtful. I can tell they are loving and kind young women. They will always be there for each other. I am a twin and there is a special bond between twins. God bless them. Marilyn.

  28. Image for Mary Mary

    Those adorable girls have a sound floundation and are going to grow up to be lovely, smart, caring women who will be great contributors to society. I believe they will grow up with the same values as their loving parents. I only hope they go to a school that will continue to enforce their Christian values and not one that will send home a child you don't recognize. I witnessed this with my niece, and isn't a pretty sight. Growing up as God fearing and coming home from "university" with a totally changed opinion and ideas. Heartbreaking and frightening to say the least. Hoping your girls will be strong enough to withstand that kind of "education".. Bless them!! And Mom and Dad too! Just enjoy their last year for now.

  29. Image for Lynn Mosher Lynn Mosher

    Such another sweet, heart-touching chapter of a twin journey. Their backpacks for survival have been loaded with wonderful, Christian values and stuffed with lots of love. May their lives always be ones of caring for others and keeping Mom and Dad's buttons popping! ❤

  30. Image for Erin Erin

    My youngest is also going to be a Senior. We’ll be going through it together. Thankfully his sister just graduated (without graduation 😞) and will be back in town, at least for now, to remind me that it’s all gonna be ok! Praying for a normal year!

  31. Image for Tricia Ann Tricia Ann

    What a wonderful story! And what lovely girls! So if you don't mind advice from an older Mom? It take prayers, prayers, and more prayers!! Like this one, God, let their light so shine among men that they may see their good works and glorify the father (Matt 5:16). And teach them to number their day aright so that they may have a heart of wisdom. (Ps 90:12) and of course some of your favorites. My daughter wanted to be a doctor so that meant sending her to a major university for the greatest opportunity. But it also meant exposing her young heart to all kinds of misdeeds. She is a doctor and a very good one. And all those hard knocks that she got at the university have made her stronger. Let God lead, and then pray!

  32. Image for Lauren Lauren

    Wonderful story. The greatest gift we can give to the world is to be the best parents we can be and make sure our children grow into decent, kind, and honest individuals who help make the world a better place. You have given your children that gift with your love and wisdom. I love your stories of your journey with your children. Your story made me remember the day when my son (who was then 6-7 and now 49) came home cranky and unhappy after playing too long at his friend’s house. After a few moments with that kind of attitude, I told him he was a very nice boy, but he had used all of his “niceness” on, Bryan, and didn’t have enough left for me. I told him he had to go to his room until he had saved up enough niceness for me. He would emerge every few minutes from his confinement saying, “I saved up enough niceness, mom” only to be returned to the room until I thought the lesson was learned. He has become that kind of decent man/father with my two grandchildren.

  33. Image for Jane Jane

    Oh bless you, girl! I giggled as I read this story, having been there myself! Now my babies have teenagers of their own. While change can be hard, especially on a mama’s heart, those sweet girls of yours will continue to blossom & bless you all the days of your life! Greatly blessed, highly favored. Enjoy the ride😊

  34. Image for Carrie Carrie

    Oh so sweet! And my hope is that they have the best senior year imaginable, filled with all their favorite moments and dreams. The foundation is laid. As I said to my own two kids as they started their senior years, « we’ve given you wings to fly, please never forget your roots » and they haven’t. Your sweet girls won’t either!!

  35. Image for Barbara at Mantel and Table Barbara at Mantel and Table

    Oh that's so beautiful KariAnne! What a darling thing for them to have written - to have found - and to have shown you again! :) You've got some lovely girls there, and I imagine your other children are right there with them! 💗 So glad you get these wonderful moments! Take care all of you, and have a great summer!

  36. Image for Debbie Debbie

    What a beautiful post. Your daughter’s are so lucky to have you as their mother. You are their parent, first and foremost, but also know they can come to you with anything, and you’ll always be there to listen. This senior year will go by fast for all of you, so try to enjoy every minute of it, take lots of pictures and celebrate every triumph like it’s their last! Even though they’ll have many more wonderful events during their senior year, it’s one they’ll never forget!

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