To the Mom Who Sent Her Son to Senior Pictures With Dirty Fingernails

working hands

Work ethic is an admirable quality that every parent hopes to instill in their child. But while it can be a sign of child-rearing gone right, Cassandra Lane couldn’t help but wonder if it was something that she pushed too hard on her own teen son.

On their way to get her son Zeke’s senior pictures taken, Cassandra noticed that his soiled hands complete with dirty fingernails looked like “working hands.”

She tried to not think too much of it, as she anticipated most of the pictures would be headshots anyway. But when they arrived, Cassandra saw how pristinely the other kids were dressed in their letterman jackets and class rings (things her son never even asked for).

Over the next few days, thinking about the senior picture incident got Cassandra roped into the “parent comparison game,” and she even cried multiple times wondering if she’d deprived her son of the things he deserved.

But Zeke’s response to his mom’s tears reminded her that she, in fact, was on the right track. Further, her sister reassured her that “the best things in life are not things,” and any parental shortcomings are covered by God’s grace.

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Since Cassandra shared her powerful story on Facebook, it’s been shared and liked over 80,000 times. Read her post in full below:

“Earlier this week we went to get Zeke’s senior yearbook pictures. On the way, I noticed his hands. Working hands. Hands that look familiarly like my dad’s work-stained hands and like Brandon’s in the early years of our marriage. I told him not to worry about it because they were doing headshots. I was wrong.


As we sat in line, I notice kids in letterman jackets with their class rings. And I notice Zeke’s stained hands. I began to tear up. Have I given him everything a parent should give to their child as he has grown up? He works out in the heat, 30-40 hours a week during the summer. He didn’t want a class ring or a letterman jacket. He didn’t get a new car. The mommy comparison game tells me I didn’t show him how much I love him with things. I left there feeling bad about myself and how we have raised our son. I’ve been reflecting the last few days and crying a lot, honestly.

I apologized to Zeke and he laughed at me. He said, ‘Why are you sorry? Because you’ve taught me to work hard for things I want? Because I know the value of a dollar? Because I’m not going to think that I deserve to have everything I want?’ And my sister reminded me that the best things in life aren’t things, but relationships, and any shortfalls in my parenting are covered by God’s grace.

So mamas, if you’re struggling with the parenting comparison game, just know that God gave you the babies you have because he wanted you, YOU, to be their mama. Not someone else. I am beyond proud of Zeke, who has taken his brother shopping for a canoe today, using his money that he earned in a vehicle that he fixed with his own hands and gas he paid for by himself. I’m not ready for Zeke to grow up, but I think he’s well on his way. ❤️”

Kelsey Straeter
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Kelsey is an editor at Outreach. She’s passionate about fear fighting, freedom writing, and the pursuit of excellence in the name of crucifying perfectionism. Glitter is her favorite color, 2nd only to pink, and 3rd only to pink glitter.