Just over four years ago, I wrote Praying Them into High School for Catholic Mom. It was June 2019, the month my son graduated from his wonderful K-8 Catholic school (where my daughter still thankfully attends), and just a few months from when he would start attending a local Catholic high school for boys. He was 13 when I wrote that piece, and I was worrying about him adjusting to high school and the enormity of this change. He is our oldest child, and thus we lack experience with all of these “firsts.”
As it turned out, it was indeed a significant transition for all of us, and our son struggled at first to find his footing academically. With some support from the school and a lot of support at home, he did develop the study skills that he needed to move forward successfully. It took a little time, but he eventually got there. He also got there with athletics, which was a big motivator for him. He tried out track and field and ran competitively in that program, and then also in cross country, for his final three years there. It was wonderful to see him grow and thrive in confidence and accomplishments. I was quite emotional when he graduated from this fantastic high school this past May.
And now we’re undergoing our biggest transition yet: our formerly towheaded 13-year-old is now a nearly eighteen-year-old grown young man, and he started college just a few weeks ago. This particular change, which is accompanied by him acquiring his driver’s license and driving himself to and from campus each day, has caused me more anxiety than I can ever remember facing in my parenting journey.
The realization of how vast this change is, coupled with the limited nature of my ability to control the things that he will encounter as he navigates his days at this point of his life, is a tough mental adjustment to make. The driving part was literally keeping me up at night. So what did I do?
Well, as I did the high school version, I prayed. My son’s Confirmation patron is St. Maximillian Kolbe, whose feast day (very conveniently in terms of school-related prayer requests) is August 14. I prayed a novena leading up to that feast day for safety and security for my son always, and for me to be released from the anxiety that was gripping me as we moved closer to the first day of school.
I’m happy to report that I am doing much better with this, and my son is also doing marvelously with his driving. He is loving his new classes and settling in nicely to his new life in college. When I wake up in the night worrying about things, I begin praying a Rosary, and eventually I drift back to sleep. Some nights I’m awake longer than others, but overall, I’m slowly beginning to adjust to this new stage in our lives.
Do you have any comforting novenas or prayer suggestions for challenging new situations? What are your prayer strategies for particularly nerve-wracking times in your parenting journey? We would love to hear about them in the comments!
About Tiffany Walsh
Tiffany Walsh is a wife and mother, a native western New Yorker, and a college librarian. She is a cradle Catholic who rekindled her childhood faith as a graduate student via her love of books, and is the author of
Exploring the Catholic Classics, part of the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women series. She enjoys writing about faith, crafting, dance, fitness and wellness. Visit her blog at
Life of a Catholic Librarian.