Ten years ago she came to live with us. Well - she had always come on weekends or vacations - but as a Junior in high school she would live with us full time. She had not been incredibly successful her first two years in a private high school and she had been unhappy there. So she would be making a move. A move to our home to attend our local public high school.
We hoped that she would have a better experience. Make friends. Develop a good social circle. Perhaps meet a nice fella. Join some activities or clubs. Do well in her studies. But honestly, none of those happened. She kept mostly to herself. Maintained a boyfriend we didn't much care for let alone approve of. She went to school and immediately came home. She didn't exert any extra effort socially at all. She didn't join a thing. But she had a job.
She worked at a BJs warehouse. She worked hard. Long hours. Was a great employee. Worked to become a manager. Wanted to be successful in her workplace. We tried to tell her not to work so hard. Enjoy other teenage things. She would have to work for a long time eventually and this was her time to partake of her youthful freedom. She did not listen to us.
Her grades were mediocre. She didn't really try. Didn't study very much. Didn't ask for help. She was disinterested really. We worried. How would she ever get into college? What would she make of her life?
We had heated arguments where we "counseled" her and tried to point her in what we deemed a "better" direction. All to no avail. She had her own ideas. Thoughts. Motivations. We agreed on very little. We held our breath.
She attended our local community college the following year. She had no idea what she wanted to study or career to pursue. And if the truth be told - she didn't really care. She was into her boyfriend, her job at BJs and dreamed of buying a new car. That was about it.
Then one day she decided she wanted to apply to Salisbury. A public college on the Eastern shore of Maryland. She worked diligently at the community college to have a nice grade point average to transfer with. She was accepted and the next thing we knew - we were moving her into her apartment.
We waited to see what she would accomplish. The "boyfriend" became a distant memory. She made friends on campus. She worked hard. Her grades were good. She was completely self motivated.
One day we received a phone call that she wanted to apply to the Business School for her Junior year. So she did and she was accepted. Her Junior and Senior years of college she spent all of her time studying and in the library. She had a purpose and was driven. She wanted straight As. And she got them. She went after internships and received them. She graduated with a degree in Finance.
She graduated in May and already had her first employment lined up. She began working for a defense contractor in Washington DC with a starting salary of over $40,000.
Since then, she has changed jobs. She still works for a defense contractor as a financial analyst with a more than $30,000 increase in pay. She has moved into an apartment just outside of the city. Her job requires her to travel all over the world. She just spent a month in Hawaii - paid by her employer. Other trips are lined up for this year - Alaska. Spain. France. Las Vegas. California. Not too shabby for 26 years old, right?
I tell you this because my husband and I find ourselves constantly bombarded by parents these days questioning us about Son #1's BIG college plans. Then they want to spout off about the long list of colleges their kid has been accepted to and all of the awesome scholarships - yada yada yada. They all seem shocked when we say, "He is applying to the colleges in Maryland. But we really would like to see him do a year of community college. He doesn't really KNOW what he wants to do - we'd like to see him take some more time."
The stream of disparaging remarks about community college then begin. Followed by all of the great aspirations that their 17 year olds have and all that they want to accomplish and be. Now don't get me wrong - I hope their children succeed and accomplish all that and more. But for those kids out there - that don't know what they want to do with the rest of their life at 17 years old - and all of the parents who are worried...
Don't be. Relax. The sun doesn't rise and set with your child's Senior year. Their lives won't come to a screeching halt if they don't get into an Ivy League school. Or for that matter - any college at all.
Be patient. Trust in time. Trust in maturation. Trust in yourself as a parent.
Your child's success or failure is not your own.
It is what it is and it will all be okay.
It will be MORE than okay.
It will be your child's life to discover.
In their own way.
They will find THEIR plan.
In the meantime, what is MY plan?
Love my child.
Just like I've been doing for the past 18 years.
Have faith in them.
Trust that they will find their way.
That's my plan.
Love. Faith. Trust.
P.S. Did I mention that Stepdaughter is working on her Masters Degree, all of her own volition and paid by her employer? Yeah - thought I'd throw that in there for you...