Tuesday, April 21, 2015

On Being My Offspring

I have a couple of “flaws” to confess to. First of all, it can’t be easy to be my kid. I don’t hide my feelings or my opinions or my disappointments. I’m not the mom who says, “You can do ANYthing you want to in life” because it’s not true and it’s bullshit to lie to your kids. D wanted to be a nurse for a couple of months. I told her that was a ridiculous idea because I know her limits. I know her study habits and I know her personality. Sure enough, just watching two episodes of Grey’s Anatomy episodes took care of that.

Secondly, I’m sort of an education snob. I went to college right after high school (really because my parents made me) and I always imagined sending D off the same way. Shopping for her dorm, hearing about her crazy professors (because there are always at least a couple), welcoming her home during break. A few years ago I went back to school for an MBA. I like education. I like educated people.

So imagine my disappointment when D didn't want to go to school. She applied to one college, didn't get in, and basically gave up. She started working at a pizza place. I consoled myself by saying, “High school was hard for her. Maybe she just needs a year off. Working at a pizza place has to be motivation to do something better.” Imagine also that, being the person I am, she knew my level of disappointment. I’m not the best person.

In high school she brought up beauty school a couple of times. I pompously dismissed that idea. No. No. No. One must be properly educated and beauty school is the path that dropouts choose. And, before you send me a bunch of hate mail, I've already admitted to my flaws. My parents also had flaws that they passed down to me, so there's that.

A couple of month ago she started looking into the Aveda Institute. She talked about it; she talked about one of her friends who was in the program and loving it. I groaned. I rolled my eyes. She set up an interview with the admissions director and asked me to go with her. Begrudgingly, I went. Sincerely, she thanked me. Knowing I wasn’t 100% or even 40% supportive, it meant a lot to her that I was there.

Aveda put on a fashion show as a benefit for clean water, but it was also a contest for incoming students for a chance to win a full scholarship. Each student had to design an outfit and do hair and makeup for their model. It was all outside of D’s comfort zone and yet she embraced the opportunity. She showed me her ideas but she did it on her own – bought her own supplies, material, and put it all together.

The night of the show she was glowing. Beaming. She didn't win the full scholarship (she did win a partial) and she knew that other people did a little better job than she did. But it wasn't about that. It was about starting something and completing it well and doing it on her own. She was proud of working hard and proud of that achievement. And I was too.

Somehow I managed to raise a child who needs my approval. She requires it and she tells me as much. And, selfishly, I like it that way. I knowingly offer my negative opinions in order to “redirect” her. I do it under the guise of wanting what’s best for her. Which is actually true. In my heart of hearts, I want what’s best for her. I want her to be happy. Of course I do, more than anything. I want this exceptional being, this literal piece of me, to be happy.

The thing is, I don’t know what that is anymore. I don’t get to decide that for her at this age. I really don’t know what is best for her. It’s her turn to decide that. Her mistakes are hers now, she has her own journey and her own dreams. And if those aren't the same dreams I have, then I have to let go of that and learn to trust her.

The whole point of this is to say that there is this really extraordinary person in my life. She saw something that she wanted. She wanted my approval but didn't wait for it, she went after that goal anyway. She’s been through some pretty big shit in the last few years (as most of you know) so I see this as another sign of her strength. I’m still not letting go 100%. It will be inch-by-caterpillar-inch, but I’m learning to trust her. I’m learning to see her and know her as a whole person. A person with goals and dreams who isn't settling for the easy path, no matter, or in spite of, what I think. A person that, no matter what I say or how hard I roll my eyes, I honestly support. I think there’s a part of her that always believed that anyway. 


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