Though I don’t feel old enough for this to be the case…I have an 18 year old daughter. Her very existence makes me both incredibly happy, extremely proud, and often beyond frustrated. Part of that frustration is a result of a concern that said daughter is making poor decisions, or no decisions, or no progress, and therefore squandering the life I worked so hard to ensure she had. I mean, did I really spend six weeks on bed rest, hospitalized multiple times and stick to a very strict diet so that she could work as a hostess and be in debt up to her eyeballs?
Recently, she has been talking to all kinds of college recruiters, since she graduated early from high school and is now finally considering that she might want to get a higher education if only she understood what that entails and how she can do it online from the comfort of our home. This is something of a deal breaker for me. She was supposed to go away to college. It didn’t have to even be far away, but it was supposed to be out of out of our home, maybe living in a dorm across town, even. Instead, she stays and we struggle with her desire for more freedom while shouldering less responsibility. We struggle with her passive aggressive ways of disobeying and doing her own thing.
Step-Sam is beside himself. He looks at our infant daughter and worries that she, too, will one day grow up and break his heart. He’s a lot more sensitive than he looks.
But I remember 18. I remember it even though it is 22 years behind me. I remember that I didn’t know what I wanted to be, or more to the point that I did, but didn’t know how to get there. In Rachel, the 18 year old, I see a lot of me…if I were taller and thinner, except for the food baby named Hidalgo. I hear her talking on the phone and getting frustrated and venting to me.
Rachel: Would you believe there are no art education programs in the US that offer an online program?
I look at her blandly for a moment.
Rachel: Why? Why would they not have an online program?
me: Well, art is rather hands on and subjective. It’s not like you are going to complete a piece and email it. You need a portfolio…
Ah, but she has already tuned out, unable to move past her disappointment. And why wouldn’t she be disappointed? She can’t figure out what she wants to do with her whole life, can’t figure out how to get where she wants to be. And…apparently this is my fault. She reminds me that I never told her she couldn’t be anything, never pushed her to be a doctor or lawyer like her friend’s parents did.
Rachel: What do you want me to be?
And she cries out in frustration and storms back to her room. It’s safer there. Life makes sense. And everything that is within her control is within reach…her phone, her television, her laptop.
I remember 18. I was busy doing what I was supposed to do, rushing full steam ahead at adulthood, rushing to grow up, to have kids, to get married, to have a career and stability. It took me years to be me. It took years for me to realize that I deserved to be happy, even if that happiness meant breaking up the family, moving forward into the great unknown, quitting my job, and carving out a life for myself that looked nothing like the life I had once envisioned. This life is bright and colorful and so sparkly.
It took years for me to accept that I could live a less traditional life with no guarantees and find the happiness I thought stability would provide. It took years for me to realize that I’m a ‘leap and the net will appear’ kind of girl.
Although it pains us, we watch as Rachel makes her way through life. We offer opinions when we dare. We reason when she’ll listen. We follow our passions. For Sam it was building his own family remodeling company. For me, it’s writing. Not only do I blog almost daily, but I have published multiple novels…romances, memoirs, inspirational…all me. Somehow our lives intertwine. I’ve made peace with my past. I bravely face the future. And I know that with love, patience, and time…Rachel will pull it together. The love I’ve mastered. The time I accept that I have no control over. It’s the patience where I need the most practice. If we’re as much alike as I suspect, I’ll have 22 years to work on it.
When Nicki isn’t practicing patience, she blogs at Suddenly *Not So* Single Journey. Check out her author site for information about her novels, including the popular Keeping Up With Kenna, chronically the first six months of life for her 9.6 ounce micro-preemie on her latest release: Sugar Daddy.