I created the Tech Proud Parent Association 12 years ago and it has been one of my favorite aspects of my job ever since. Now I can truly empathize with what you're going through. Before this year, I've related other parent's experiences and have done research to help parents prepare their students and themselves for the huge transition in front of them. This year my oldest went away to college. Simon Cowell might accuse me of being "indulgent" but since dropping off my daughter at NMSU to study film a few days ago, I feel like I've some insight that might help you. I don't often get such timely opportunities, so I'm going to take advantage of it.
One of your greatest gifts is that you know your son/daughter better than anyone else. They may THINK their friends do but teenagers see everything through a very limited lense. Parents have the wisdom and experience of the years (and white hairs, for some of us) and knowledge gained by years raising one particular human being. You know their glorious strengths and you know their frustrating struggles. My daughter has inspired me with her perseverance despite extremely painful, undiagnosed stomach issues. She excels in just about everything she tries despite her health. Her maniacal need for social interaction and need to be in the midst of all the excitement will be her challenge. Luckily, she recognizes it. We had many conversations about her strategy to have fun, stay healthy and do well in school.
I worry a little about what life will be like without my oldest daughter in the house. I'm a single mom with a high school junior still at home. We have similar humor, love Harry Potter and running but we have very different goals and temperaments. She's usually good company but occasionally, I'm at my whit's end to understand her. That's when my oldest has been a great mediator. I suppose we'll have to create new ways for us to either fill familiar roles or create new ones. I'm looking forward to what my relationship with #2 daughter becomes - if a little anxious about how we will arrive at it.
In the current economy, college has taken on additional focus and pressure. While it remains a time for self-exploration and growth, more pressure has been placed on good grades and development of a lucrative career. Scholarships are riding on student performance and every grade counts. My daughter did well in high school and received scholarships and I'm counting on her to continue to be as motivated and maintain them. I also have expectations that she makes the most of her time in college in terms of opportunities outside of the classroom. These days, employers are looking for graduates who are smart AND have experience. It's hard for me to sit back and not push her to be awake and assertive. That will be my biggest challenge - not pushing her toward the opportunities that quite honestly, I missed. The decisions I would make for myself may not be the right ones for her life.
My daughter is one of my favorite people on the planet. As she gets older and more mature, it has been tempting to think of her as one of my best friends. The week before she left, I wanted everything to be perfect but the pressure of getting everything done and some difficult relationship dynamics created squabbling before she left. It was definitely NOT how I pictured our parting. Despite how heart broken I was, to share my feelings as I might an adult confidante would be a mistake. I'm still the Mom and will be for a while longer. Maybe you experienced some of the same things? I've learned from other parents, it is normal. Group hug....
Throughout this year, I intend to share some more experiences and thoughts. Many of you may want to share your thoughts and feelings about what you are going through. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com. Please indicate whether your thoughts are for my eyes only or you would like to share them with other Tech parents. I have a Tech Proud Parent FB page but it has not been used that much. If you would like me to use it more, please let me know that too.
Thank you all for allowing us to educate and care for your sons and daughters. It is a great honor. I feel your pain and I feel your great joy. Allison.