I wanted to take his fears away. I wanted to tell my son D that everything was going to be okay. He was anxious about going back to school for his last semester of college.
“What will life be like after college?” he said, “I don’t know what I want to do. I’m not sure what I want to be.”
I told him that I too was scared of the change from student to working girl more than three decades ago when I graduated from college. I remember going cross country during the summer after my senior year. I was a chaperone for a teen tour. It was an incredible experience. I didn’t look forward to returning home, nor to the full-time job search. I took the first job I found and became a secretary at a small ad agency. That job lasted a few months and then I went to work as an editor in publishing. Two years later I went to work for a food manufacturer and then another food manufacturer and there I stayed, working my way up the career ladder. I never became the famous fashion designer I always dreamed I’d be, but I’ve had a successful career. (Maybe I will be a famous writer and author during my life after 50. Many famous people have become famous during their third act.)
I wanted to take his fears away. I tried to share some of my 35+ years of wisdom with my son D. I stayed up until 1:00 a.m. talking. I don’t know that he was ready or willing to listen. He was too anxious.
“Your years after college will be some of the best years of your life,” I said. “I loved my twenties. No more homework. No more tests. No more school books. No spouse or kids. No lawns to mow or house to clean. No mortgage to pay.”
I wanted to take his fears away. But, I could not do it.
As D approaches adulthood, it’s time for me to take a step back and for him to take the lead. (Go D! Go D! Go D!) “You know I will always be your biggest supporter and I will always love you,” I said to D. “And, I will continue to feel your pain.” (Okay, I didn’t say the second sentence out loud, but as a Jewish mother, rest assured that I will always feel my son’s pain even if I cannot take it away.)
I put D on the bus back to school on Wednesday morning. Off he went to the big city. Then I took myself to Starbucks, ordered a Skinny Vanilla Decaf Latte and a slice of Reduced Fat Blueberry Coffeecake, and breathed a sigh of relief. Ahh. Omm. Ahh. Omm.
I know my son D is going to do great things in his life after college. (Go D! Go D! Go D!) He will face many of life’s ups and downs. I hope he listens to Dr. Seuss. who says it best in his book, “Oh, the Places You Will Go!”…
“On and on you will hike.
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.”
“You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.”
“You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.”
Go D! Go D! Go D!
Funny, we used to give out that dr. Zeus book to our graduates as a gift.
As I read your blog, I remember how my sons never wanted to hear advice from me. Just last night I was having a conversation with my twenty year old who was as stubborn as ever. And iT was only after being on his own for five years that my twenty nine year old would even entertain my opinion about life.
Thank God,however, that the high school students I teach are far more tolerant of me than my own kids. Go figure.
Gave me a little tear, Judi — your compassionate reaction to D's fears and the wisdom in Dr. Seuss' verses. Thanks for writing!
Thanks for your comments Linda B and Janet. Sounds like this post struck a special cord with you and that makes me happy.
Dr. Seuss was a wise man. After reading your post, I got out my copy of this book and read the whole thing. Lots of good stuff in there!