I was truly more emotional when they went away to college than when they graduated! I’m such a proud mama this past weekend as both my boys received degrees, one Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and one as Juris Doctor degree, or JD law degree.
Unfortunately, as a solo parent, I was only able to attend one graduation. As a widow, I never chose to be a solo parent and that emotion has been creeping up into my psyche for the past month or so. I have been able to shut out those feelings most of the time, but on packing my bags to travel to Mississippi I will admit the waterworks finally flowed.
Anyone who knows my late husband Mike knows how unfair it is that he was not here this past weekend to see his sons graduate. He was instrumental in bringing them to where they needed to be to begin their higher education. He worked consistently to model a strong work ethic, he pursued active learning by always reading and learning another language and when he was not at work, he enjoyed himself as he really did love his family and his life. I fall short giving guidance to my young men as they move forward in the search for future careers they will thrive in. Mike was always the guy with the ideas and he would probably be giving lots of suggestions about what they could do next.
But, maybe that is what college was for. It is a time to live away from home. To find out what you are good at, what your strengths and interests are and a time to try new things. It is a time to use your brain to study a specific field and master a level of competence. It is a time to debate topics and form your own opinions outside of your family. It is a time to make friends who are different from your own neighborhood, live in unfamiliar towns and environments and travel to appreciate different cultures and maybe even learn a new language.
My college experience was a wonderful time of coming out of my shell. I made new friends and took some challenging classes, that with late nights and caffeine pills, I was able to pass. I also took the opportunity to study in England for a semester and backpack across Europe with new friends. The sense of independence I got, along with a lust for travel, has stayed with me all these years.
College is not for everyone. As an educator I am seeing this more and more. We have tried so hard to make “everyone” college ready but we really do need skilled workers who have not wasted time in college at Fraternity parties getting dogs drunk on kegs of beer (yes that was in the news today – disgusting!) Young people who are not interested or do not have the aptitude to study in college can increase their earning potential greatly by starting to work and training right out of high school for a trade.
Young people today do not want to work as hard as the last generation did. 90 hour per week jobs are no longer so desirable. Making money is a goal, but I think kids in America today have enjoyed a good quality of life and want to keep it that way. Young moms especially have a say in this matter. They want to be there for their kids even if they do work. Many people have found that working from home can be satisfying and still lucrative. The workplace may just have to become more flexible.
I did not cry at graduation. I am happy for my kids. I know the experience they had at school will be with them forever. They have degrees and opportunities are out there. As one of my favorite authors Dr. Seuss says ” You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
Now they will both be coming home, for a while. I am so lucky that we still have our home for them to come to. We will be making sit down dinners for 4 again, as my fiancé will be moving in soon after we get married this summer. Change is the only constant and I am bracing myself – here we go, full speed ahead!!