Thursday, March 26, 2009

Parenting the Hard Stuff-Part 3

I think one of the hardest things about being a parent is when your kids are mostly grown and starting to navigate the big, bad world on their own. You try for 18 years to teach and guide them and all of a sudden they are trying to fly on their own.

You watch from the front porch as they begin to soar, but run frantically when they start to spiral towards the earth, hoping that you can catch them before they crash. Such has been our job this year with Headless Girl.

(Not that she is going to crash in any horrifying sense. She is wading her way through some tough decisions. You'll see.)(Also, she has given me permission to talk about this stuff.)

Almost from the time I met her, HG has wanted to be a doctor. How cute is it to see an 8yo saying that she wants to be a pediatritian? Beyond cute! As she grew, and grew in relationship with the Lord, she amended that to 'medical missionary', and ultimately medical missionary to Sudan, Africa.

As the years went on she continued to do well in her studies, working hard to be able to gain admission to her 'dream' school, and entered last fall as a bio/chem major, hoping to be accepted into the pre-med department after her first year. Actually getting through the first 2 semesters has been really difficult for her.

Science classes have been hard. I think in some ways she was expecting them to come easier for her once she hit college. I know that sounds off, but let me explain. She has always felt a calling on her life to be a doctor, and I think that in her child's mind she expected things be be easy by obeying God. God never said things would be easy, though, right? After a disappointing first semester we talked about how to handle her studies and things she could change going into second semester. Obviously, as hard as she studied, it wasn't enough. I told her then to look at how much she had studied, compared to the grades that she had earned, and to take that level and push it up so she could work on getting grades that she would be satisfied with. I also think that the first year classes are probably harder to 'weed out' the ones that can't hack it. I believe that she can do it but it's still not going well and she is discouraged.

She has had a rough time adjusting to living with roommates. There are 3 of them in a two person room and with their decidedly different schedules and morals she has really had a hard time. She said to me last semester that she finally understood why I was the "mean mom" and made her go to bed on school nights. I had to laugh because it was such a struggle at times. As her mom I have tried to give her the tools to be able to limit herself when she needs to and adjusting those limits to include others is hard, especially when you are just beginning to impose those limits to yourself.

Her expectations of a Christian university have been shattered and her relationship with God has been suffering because of it. She wanted so badly to find like-minded Christian students to spend her time with. Her faith is colliding with the values of the world. We all need to learn how our world view fits in with the views of those around us, but most would think that at a Christian university it wouldn't be quite so difficult. I believe that it has been her second hardest struggle to date. Second only to navigating the relationship with her mother.

Her relationship with her bio-mom has been strained in some ways. I don't feel I'm at liberty to discuss all of these issues here, but suffice it to say that she still has a hard time relating to her mother. The 2,000 miles that are between them doesn't help, either. I will say, though, that her mom has stepped up in a lot of ways, and although she does things radically different from the way her father and I do, I know without a doubt that her mother loves her and is trying to guide her the best that she knows how.

She has decided to transfer to a smaller, more strictly Christian college, to focus on the ministry/missions aspect of her calling. By taking the science classes that she will need at a community college, she will not be behind when she goes to take the MCAT and apply to med school.

I can totally relate to the difficulty that she is having. I had a hard first year in college and ended up transferring myself, so if anyone can relate to the dread that she feels every day, it's me.

I pray that this is the solution for her. Seeing her so unhappy makes me so sad. These are things that I can't fix for her. She has to learn to fly on her own. I hope she knows, deep in her heart, that this nest is always open for her soft landing. I hope she knows that what ever decision she makes we are always proud of the woman that she is becoming and love her more than anything.

Headless Mom


kyooty said...

I totally understand what she's going through. First year was very tough for me.,

Keetha said...

I can tell you beyond a SHADOW of a doubt (been there, done that - - - FOUR TIMES) that you are right. The fledging stage, and even the post fledging years are far and away the most difficult.

Anonymous said...

Hang in there HG! And welcome to the grown up table! :) It's not always all that it's cracked up to be BUT the cool part is that you can craft your own dreams and if you believe in them enough, you'll achieve them eventually.

As for the Christian vs. the world issue, I have bounced back and forth many times....uber christian to soft christian and back and forth. Along the way what I have learned is: just as there are many gifts of God and one is not better than another, there are also many types of relationships with is not better than another. Christians need to be in the world and we need to appreciate our differences and what each of us bring to the Lord's table. He loves us all.

Good luck sweet pea! And good luck to you too're doing great!

Steph said...

You're a great mom! And even great moms can't fix it all, though it would be very helpful if we could.

Keep up the good work! I learn so much from your strengths!!!!

Anonymous said...

If your daughter is doing poorly in school, maybe it has to do with the fact that she isn't trying very hard. Don't let your child play the victim!

Carol Jennen said...

I had the same problem with my daughter her first year of college too. It turned out that she was spending all her time with her boyfriend. We were very upset to find out that time she had been lying to us about the effort that she put into her studies. We discovered the root of the problem after looking over her phone bill and finding out how much time she spent texting. It is unfortunate that HG is having a hard time in college and hopefully she takes advantage of the opportunity to meet other students in order to grasp a better understanding of their differences.