Monday, November 14, 2016

Super Mommy Pancakes

There is an episode of The Middle where Sue is touring colleges with Mike and then run into a father/daughter duo.  The father is over the top, super involved, emotional, and proud.  They dub him "super Daddy pancakes".  This term has been used lately in my house to describe me, in a tongue and cheek kind of way.  With Grace looking at schools lately, I have to wonder if she were in school, if I would be a "super Mommy pancakes" kind of mom: super involved in her after high school choices, crazy emotional over whatever her choice was, and sentimental over the prospect of "losing her" to college.  Part of me thinks I would.

As I walk through this with Grace, I realize how my senior year at a high achieving suburban high school left its mark on my psyche.  I still feel the angst of sitting in my senior seminar class listening to the college acceptance announcement read over the microphone broadcasting to the 400 seniors who was going where.  I was accepted into several schools, but never submitted mine for broadcast because I felt less than.  My schools were less than theirs.  My scores were less than theirs.  My rank was less than theirs.  My accomplishments were less than theirs.

Driving through Waterbury at sunset

It is silly that I still can recall this angst with such clarity.  It is silly that I never realized my own worth and that it had nothing to do with college or school at all.  I thought that if I just did it all "right" everything would be okay.  Right classes, right extracurricular, right career choice, right life goals.  It's such a naive approach to the world and yet for the most part the choices I made, some "right" and some not so right, led me to where I am now, which is perfectly right.

All these feelings come up when I am visiting schools with Grace.  I could so easily be that "super Mommy pancakes" mom, who is really just my 18 year old self, following around the tour guide like a puppy, asking all kinds of questions, wanting to prove I was good enough for their school.  Grace is not like me.  She is so centered in herself.  She knows who she is and what she wants.  She already sees herself as a photographer, school is just an extra.  She sees school as an opportunity to mature with photography, have experiences with other college age kids, and develop her vision.  She wants to join the ski club, the Bible club and perhaps take pictures for the newspaper.  She wants to hang out in the student lounge and was super excited that there is both a Starbucks and a Moe's the exit before the school.  She has no sense of comparison.  Her friends are looking at schools like Vanderbilt, Penn State main campus, RIT, and more and she is genuinely happy for them.  It is just not what she wants.  When I ask her why this is not what she wants she replies:

  • I want to sleep in my own bedroom.
  • I want to be able to attend my own church.
  • I want to be with my dog.
  • I want to have my instruments.  A piano is hard to bring to college!
  • I want to keep my lessons with Rob (her piano teacher).
  • I want to keep my Saturdays with Dad.
  • I want my life to be my life, just with a few more classes.

After the holidays we will go back to this school to visit during the day, when he quad is busy with students and the classrooms are humming with activity. She wants to see the photography lab and the equipment.  Ask questions about the program, what kind of photography the professors specialize in, the goal of the program, and what students go on to do.  She needs to know about technology requirements, if she can use her own equipment, and if equipment is available through the school.  What happens at graduation?  Is there a portfolio review?  A chance to meet professionals?  Mentorship/apprentice/assistant opportunities?

This is an exciting time.  I am grateful that she can make these choices independently, without the confusing aspect of peer pressure.  When she was young, just a toddler, I vividly remember wanting to pull my hair out in frustration over not knowing how to parent this strong willed, independent child.  I told myself over and over that the qualities that made her a challenging little person, would make her a pretty incredible big person.  Whatever she decides, wherever she goes, she will go forth with confidence and determination to conquer her goals and achieve her dreams.


Theresa B said...

I got goose bumps when I saw your picture. When I first saw the photo, I recognized the landscape and looked immediately for the cross. It must be 15 years since I drove past it, but this photo made me feel like it was yesterday! I ALWAYS think about that cross on the hill. I always loved driving that way because of the reminder of Jesus. I always said a little prayer when we drove that way and it was always so comforting to me to have the cross there.

I love this. I love how much thought Grace has put into this. I love how she knows what she wants and she is "interviewing" schools herself, it's not just about the school accepting her, it's about her finding what she wants. I admire how prepared she is.

As I commented in your last post, Allie is on the fence between education, marketing and journalism--she likes all of those and I told her she doesn't necessarily NEED to narrow it down. But that is another story. I see the same sort of confidence and self-assuredness with her in terms of not feeling "less than" and I think a lot of that has to do with homeschooling (I can not thank you enough for giving me that little push of encouragement all those years ago, I am not sure if we would be here now if you had not). I think NOT being in school and not being around peers our girls are able to be their own authentic selves, not follow what everyone is doing and feeling like their grades, clubs, schools, activities, etc. are "less than". But also, I think they have seen that there are many paths to success, there are many different ways of doing things, and sometimes doing things a little differently is very valuable. I hope our girls apply that throughout their lives.

Mother of 3 said...

I love that she absolutely knows what she wants and can express it. I knew I did not want to go away to college but it seemed like it was expected of me. I toured so many and got into tons.. but ultimately ended up backing out entirely at the last minute. I stayed home and commuted to a local, small college and wonder now that I just didn't tell everyone I had no desire to move away. I was content where I was and enjoyed being around my family and friends.

Karen said...

After JUST talking to you on the phone I love everything about this post. I was never a person who was freaked out about college when I was 18. I knew I was going to the community college and I did. Now Keilee doesn't even want to go to college (as of today). I love that Grace knows what she wants. That is something my 18 year old self didn't have a clue about.

LJS said...

I would so love to have coffee and talk with you about this. I was on the phone with Karen yesterday and I commented how the three of us have walked through this journey together and are all feeling similar feelings right now about the stage of life our daughters are in.

Grace has not ruled out two associates degrees, one in photography/fine arts and the other in music. If she went summers, she could do this in three years and have her fourth year in Manhattan. This was new to me. I thought.....hmmm....rather than spent hundreds of thousands on a bachelors, she could have two associates. That's interesting. Having the music degree would help her if she wants to teach music on the side. She has been teaching one of our friends through Instagram over Facetime every week. It has been a great experience for her and she is good at it. It thought she would need help planning lessons, organizing content to cover 30 minutes and help remembering to review what was done last week and preview what it to come, but it all comes very naturally to her. Choices are a good thing so long as they don't freeze you with indecision. I know the girls will work it out and find their way.

LJS said...

I wonder if it was because I was a child of the 80s. Everything around me was money driven. I thought it was expected of me too because everyone I knew was so eager to get away. We were driven by goals, money, status, not by the values that we held or how we could use our goals to better others. I remember changing my plan in college and thinking I would work for a non-profit. I sent out dozens of resumes and never got a call which in hindsight was a blessing because working in Washington would have crushed me. My professor came up to me after and talked to me because he had never had a student express the desire to work in the non-profit world. I knew back then there was something more I just did not know how to put the pieces together.

LJS said...

I wish I could sit down with my younger self and give her some advice......

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