You decide, no, I’ll decide?

Updated: Nov 28, 2019

First, heyyyyyyyy ya’ll! I have not written a blog entry in some time! My apologies for the absence, but if you follow me, you will forgive me because you know I have been super BUSY! My rule is that I never write unless I’m inspired. I take the gift of writing seriously, and I don’t want empty words on a page. I have secretly whispered blogs to you that have been running in my head, but I have not put pen to paper (sort to speak), until now. So, I must be really inspired. This one is for the parents that are at the same crossroads that I have found myself at.

My oldest son, Noah, is in his senior year of high school. I know right? Many of you reading this are like, “wait, whoa…little Noah is about to graduate?!?!?! Wasn’t that little dude just like 8 years old playing recreational basketball and football at Redan Park? Yup, that is the same kid. I remember every single thing about being pregnant with him and soooo many other moments of this life, because he was my first-born child and son!

I was pregnant with him while I was in graduate school. I was pregnant with him when 911 happened to the USA. For the latter, I remember quite vividly pulling up to my practicum/internship site for graduate school and the radio programming was interrupted to announce that planes were crashing into the World Trade Center and more. I remember sitting still in the car, unsure what to do. I was in shock. I remember walking into the site, nevertheless, and facilitating a group therapy session for individuals with Schizophrenia. I recall that I was shook and I didn’t have a clue what I could do for the individuals that were waiting on me to bring them peace of mind. All this time I was carrying Noah.

That same group of individuals that were diagnosed with Schizophrenia or other chronic mental health conditions also planned a baby shower for me on their own. The day was scrambled because of the world events, but they were still determined to proceed with their surprise shower. I had been working with this group for about nine months and they were determined to show their support. That was a roller coaster of emotions day!

I remember that I had to sit through and PASS a certification/exit test from graduate school at almost 9 months pregnant. I hoped, wished, and begged God to NOT let me go into labor before I could complete the test. It was a big deal then, and in hindsight, I still say a very big deal indeed. I often joke with Noah and explain to him that I knew he was going to be smart because I had to be smart - a lot of times, while carrying him, so surely, he would inherit that gene from his mama!

YES, he did inherit the smart gene from me (I am sticking to this story so don’t try to argue with me), but I also have had 17 years to get to know him as an independent person from my perspective.

I have really struggled with knowing exactly what “we” (we is defined as Me + him) would do to lay out his life plans post high school. He gave early signs of his path.

1. He expressed previous interest in culinary school. He then got a job as a cook at Zaxby’s fast food restaurant chain; and held that job down for over a year. He only left after not feeling like his value was being represented in his compensation. (the mama whisperer)

2. While still working at Zaxby’s he applied to Kroger Grocery Store. Guess what? Yup, he landed that job as well.

3. He was gifted a 2002 Ford Mustang about a year or so ago from his grandmother. The car has been passed down to grandchildren as they progress through their life. Tag, it was his turn. If you re-read this segment, you will realize his car is about 17 years old. (Ohhhhh I didn’t do that magic 17 thingy on purpose!) He figured out, he actually likes working on his car, and could focus on a career in auto mechanics.

Auto Mechanic you say son? Well we have been researching programs and all the things necessary to explore this path for months. Some may say, well if you have the college experience and then some, wouldn’t you want the same for him? I say ____________________ you and that. I am choosing to build on what I know to be true about this baby born in 2002! He is super smart, but lacks focus and long-term attention. I listened to him express this, without him using these exact words. It would have been easy and frankly super easy, to push him towards what I wanted vs what he wanted. Hey, I’ve been on the earth a good 28 years prior to him showing up, so clearly, I know what’s best. Maybe…

Despite these indisputable facts (lol) I didn’t insert my ideas on him, and I proudly support him navigating the next milestone of his life, his way ……with some measured guidance from me. What? Now you know I can’t let him just fall on his face! He is pretty clear about his decision and accepts that he is a 2-year type of student vs a 4 or 5. I support his insight and his laser sharp focus that he now has on his goals. He is excited to have an attainable goal and a plan in motion. Hell, me too!

This is important for so many reasons; but I’ll summarize it into something super basic. Use the information you have about your children…. their strengths and opportunities for growth. We often know our passions before we give ourselves credit for knowing them! Facilitate their process but let them be your guide. Listen to what they say and DO. Yes, listen to what they do. Help them be successful by supporting them, and realizing that their path is their own. As a result, we are team technical school…. but because I value the life lessons you are taught when you have the “away from home” experience, we found a balance. He will live “away from home” and focus on 2 years max of post-secondary education. He told me what he wanted and I matched that data with what I know about him from 17 years of experience.

I am uber excited for my first-born son. He has an apartment under lease for Fall 2020 and acceptance into a technical school. I have already made plans to remodel his room. Wait, that’s a different blog. I digress.

Point is, this time is stressful, exciting, and scary! My best advice for any parent or guardian in the same place as I am in, don’t compare your child’s path with others. Your child is uniquely who they are. Let them be your lighthouse waiting for you to provide the guidance of light. My excitement level has nothing, and I repeat, nothing to do with I just might be grooming someone that can work on own car! Yessssss!

- MJ

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