baby girl and BYU

You know those times you say something obnoxious out loud and later come back to eat your words?

Like the time my 26 year old self said, “I don’t see how anyone could NOT finish The Moonstone” (an incredibly intriguing mystery by Wilkie Collins) to my book group full of moms with more/older kids. Trust me, I found out exactly how you could NOT finish The Moonstone.

Or when I said, “I’m not the kind of person who forgets appointments.” And then missed approximately 38 orthodontist appointments for Ben and Stefan.

Or when I told my friend Shelah, “You shouldn’t let Maren skip kindergarten. You’re missing out on a whole year of having your baby at home.”

Ouch. I’d actually hoped I didn’t say that out loud to Shelah. But I did. And she still puts up with me.

And I’m eating my words because my baby is skipping her last year of high school and heading off to Brigham Young University in the fall.

Covid put the idea in her head. After witnessing the end of Gabe’s senior year, when everything was canceled, Mary realized nothing was a given. And when she looked at her classes for the fall and imagined choir and orchestra and the musical with masks and social distancing, it all felt pointless.

So she dropped choir, orchestra and AP Calculus, (shh, don’t tell her brothers, it will break their math-loving hearts) and set her sights on graduating a year early.

Last summer, she took online classes and filled out packets and ticked off graduation requirements one by one. For fall, she registered for classes at Skyline High, Salt Lake Community College, and Utah Online. She took the ACT three times.

Still, she wasn’t sure if she’d actually skip her senior year until she received her acceptance to BYU a few weeks ago. It’s just not done around here. Is it more common where you live? Graduating early is so unusual it left our counselors and administrators flummoxed and confused. We’ve navigated every step on our own.

Here’s the problem with graduating early– you don’t skip your junior year, you miss your senior year. You miss the year of fun events, of madrigals and student government, of awards and opportunities, senior photos and senior sunsets. And after missing half her sophomore year and her entire junior year in a pandemic, I’m sending my baby to college who really never went to high school.

And it’s perfectly OK. Nothing is guaranteed; nothing is given.

She’s working through her classes, ticking off one requirement after another and now, looking forward to roommates and nursing prerequisites and an on-campus job.

I’d love to keep her around for her senior year. I would love to shop for prom dresses and make her go to auditions and apply for awards (and those could end in disappointment too). But it’s all OK. As they say, “the world steps aside for someone who knows where they’re going.” And she knows, my baby girl knows.



  1. Adri

    March 3, 2021

    Congrats to your amazing Mary! She’s bound for great things! Several seniors in our area opted to graduate early (in Dec) when they realized last fall that their senior year was going to be lame. But I don’t know any other juniors who opted to graduate early. Best wishes to her as she finishes up and starts her next exciting chapter!

  2. Annie

    March 3, 2021

    Congrats Mary! My son graduated a semester early and started BYU in January. It’s pretty common around here for kids to be done early (NC) but we never ever even considered it until covid entered the picture and everything for seniors this year was canceled, postponed, or altered severely. It’s been great, he loves BYU and gets to be roommates with his returned missionary brother, something that never would have happened otherwise.

  3. Katie

    March 5, 2021

    Two of my sisters graduated early (SC). It wasn’t that uncommon, though most people stayed on for their senior year. Your kids’ high school sounds a lot more exciting than mine was, haha! I’m not surprised that graduating early is so uncommon.

    Mary really seems to have a lot of valuable skills under her belt; she’ll do great at college! (and I know you know that).

  4. Mary

    March 6, 2021

    Aghhh!!! She’s going to BYU!! She will LOVE it!!! I’m right close by in Orem if she ever needs anything. She’s landing in a great place

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