This day was hard, even years later I can still feel the emotion of this moment. I stood there and watched my oldest son and his high school football team leave the field for the last time.
He’d been playing this game for years, his very favorite thing to do…and in one evening it was over. All of the practices, all of the early mornings, the balancing of homework and strength training it was all over after this loss. For him, he was lucky because although his high school football career was over, he would be playing in college in the fall. But he was still devastated. He wanted this win so badly with his team. I remember standing there watching him struggle, we were giving him the space he needed, and I quietly took the photo. I didn’t show it to him for a few days and when I did, I asked him if it was ok to share it. And he said yes. He was still devastated. He still is and likely will remember that moment his whole life. But life isn’t all rainbows, and the varied stories of our lives deserve to be told as well. This moment helped shape him into the young man that he is now and deserves a spot in his story.
I’ve heard many people say not to focus on the “lasts” as your child grows…I’m one that believes that they are important milestones worth documenting when the time and circumstances allow. For me these images show a transition from one point in their lives to the next, even when we’re uncertain what those next steps might be. Sometimes “lasts” are full of tears and sadness but other times they are to be celebrated and can be a great reference point for your teen’s life.
Above are two images from the last game of the season for my youngest during his junior year…his team had a great run, they were hoping for so much more, but it didn’t happen. There was so much to be grateful for in the season (the year of CV19…the season that almost didn’t happen), but at that moment all they felt was the hard part. My youngest son is more protective of his feelings and I am aware and sensitive to that, so for him, I remained back and took images that told the story in a different way.
My sweet girl on her senior night for basketball…it was bittersweet but I wanted to make sure that I got some images from her night to tell the story. She is more open with her feelings than my boys are, so she didn’t have trouble with me taking or sharing these images…but I always ask. These moments are hard and sometimes these emotions are private for your teens. Make sure that you validate those feelings and honor them if they would prefer for them not to be shared (and if they would prefer the image be deleted from my camera, I would do that as well). My boys are typically fine with sharing – especially if it’s a fairly non-descript photo like the ones I often take of them walking away…but again, I always ask first.
He’s not exactly a teen anymore, but he’ll forever be my kiddo. These years in college football have had their ups and downs and this past year there were some big moments. We moved through them together, always doing our best to be there for him and give him the space that he needed. Even now…I still ask first. These are his stories and moments and I’m grateful he still allows my help and let’s me tell the stories from my point of view as well. I’m so very proud of him and how he navigates this.
Make sure that you are mindful of your teen’s feelings. Don’t force a pose from them for photos in these hard moments (unless, like my daughter they’re ok with it). But having these images tell a more complete story of their lives and yours. These moments are tough on us as parents as well. My heart breaks for my children when they are in a tough moment. One day they will be able to share these memories with their children when they’re going through something hard and tell their own story. Remember, life isn’t just a highlight reel. All of the pieces of our stories deserve to be documented.
Sep 29, 2022