It’s February 17th.
This photo is what it looks like when the deadline to apply is February 16 at midnight and it’s February 15th at 10:30pm.
I’ve always asked women who have gone before me what it’s like to not know… to have no answers yet… to be in the middle.
And they all told me the same thing: You just get through it.
But I find I’m not just getting through it. I’m holding back so I don’t freak out or worry us both. I’m trying to not ask WHY did you wait until the last minute? Or WHY could we not have done this in OCTOBER??
But I made a different commitment to myself, so I don’t ask these questions out loud. Here’s why.
In December, he got rejected from one of his top film schools. He didn’t want to apply to any others.
By January, we sat down at a local Chinese restaurant and made a list of all options – blue sky’s the limit. Truth is, I DON’T KNOW what he “SHOULD” do. I know what many kids do culturally. I’m not convinced there’s a “right” and “wrong” after college (except sleeping all day and not working, that’s not an option).
For him, options included 4- year college, community college, his own film business, living at home, living with a friend, living at school.
The ONLY criteria was that he had to love it for it to be on the list. If it happened, he would be EXCITED.
The goal was to pursue each college, or avenue until there were closed doors or open ones.
Next to every option, he made deadlines so he was very clear.
Then I made the commitment of a mom’s lifetime: I would say no more. We hung the paper on the fridge and I let him navigate his way from there.
I have had nail tips on my fingers to keep from biting them. I highly recommend this. Smartest thing I’ve done yet.
Eventually, I did cave. He wasn’t applying for anything and by the end of January, I had the “gap year” talk. Here’s what a gap year looks like here: he pays rent, he works at least 25 hours a week, he goes to community college, I don’t cook dinners or wake him up for his day. I go on dates. 😉
But other than that one addendum, I’ve said nearly nothing. Here’s why: if he can’t apply online to colleges to move toward a life he loves, then maybe he needs to be home a year.
I don’t know.
I’m learning that it’s ok (finally) to say I don’t know and mean it.
To be ok with whatever happens.
To know that he is an amazing young adult, and I have very few regrets parenting him.
So maybe right now, it’s okay to pull back, give him breathing room while I hyperventilate in another room. Write messages of encouragement on his mirror. Tell him he’ll figure it out. And believe for us both that life will get him where he needs to be.
A few days ago he asked me “Are you going to be glad when I’m gone? You don’t have to cook, and stuff.” And I asked if he really wanted the answer even if I cried.
“No… ok- yes.”
“Truth is, you are like a little bird here on our back deck. Let’s say we took one inside and wanted to love it. We feed it and even when it got older and bigger, we kept it. You know what would happen? It would cripple him. Well, you’re that bird. And if I keep you home with me, I cripple you. The greatest sacrifice any mom ever makes is to let you guys go. But you of anyone I know are ready to fly.”
And we hugged.
And now we both wait for the next season, the next step… knowing that no matter how long it takes, he’ll fly. And so will I.
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