I made our first set of college visiting appointments. This year, being her junior year, and having a mom like me, we are using every long weekend to visit colleges. So I took her list, looked at the schools in the geographic area we want to cover in October, did my best to make an itinerary that won’t kill us (can’t promise anything) and made appointments.
As I was doing all of this, I started thinking about the significance of what we are doing. She’d old enough to start considering colleges. She’s old enough to start considering her life after high school graduation. How did that happen?
There are many things I want for my daughter, but the number one thing is for her to be happy. And that means having the freedom and ability to choose her own path. I’ve never asked for perfection, and have ALWAYS clarified my expectations with her—you don’t need perfect grades, you need grades that reflect the best of your abilities. Sometimes she succeeds and other times she fails. That’s part of life. But as I’ve told her many, many times, I want her to have as many options open to her as possible, and in order to do that, she needs to try as hard as she can and always do her best. I think we’re succeeding, basically.
When things have gotten rough, either with her friends or her classes or just with life as a teenager, I have reminded her that her goal is the same—to do what she wants with her future. It’s a long-term goal and one that hopefully helps her rise above the daily stressors and focus on where she wants to be later in life. College is one of the things that will allow her to escape from the “here.”
In the next year and a half, her life is going to be one big ball of stress. And it’s going to be compounded by others—classmates who talk incessantly about grades and test scores, adults who talk incessantly about grades and test scores, people who ask what her plans are or whether she’s getting tutored for this test, that test or a completely different thing we hadn’t considered. As with every single stage of her life, there will be people who over-dramatize everything. And as with every stage of her life, I hope to step back and remind her and me that it’s a big step, but it’s the NEXT step. It’s the next step in a logical progression, based on her current abilities and dreams. We’re not going from Kindergarten to college. We’re not expecting something she has no hope of being able to achieve.
And on my part, I’m not going to play into everyone else’s hands. She’s old enough to begin this journey. It’s her journey, not mine. My hopes and dreams for her are nice, but they’re pretty irrelevant. So I won’t be talking about specifics. I won’t be telling people her test scores or her grades or even what specific colleges she’s looking at. Those announcements are up to her.
Because this is the opening chapter of her story. And it’s her story to tell.