There’s one instance I remember specifically from the year I was 17. I was standing in my kitchen one day, leaning against the fridge and struggling to open my yogurt container. My mom came into the kitchen at the perfect time for me to ask her to open my yogurt and if I could spend another night at my boyfriend’s house. She of course opened the yogurt, but as for the boyfriend thing, she said, “Jackie, if you spend too much time together, you will eventually get sick of each other.” My angsty teenage self of course went into defensive mode because my mom obviously did not understand me or the amazing relationship I had with my boyfriend. Two years later, that boyfriend and I broke up. Now, reading this you may think, “Well two years was a long time to be together as a teenager.” And yes, it was. But we broke up for the exact reason that my mom tried to get me to avoid. We just got so plain sick of each other from spending so much time together. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through. The first real break up is brutal. Looking back on it, though, we were never right for each other and I’m glad things worked out the way they did. We still talk occasionally, and we’re both extremely happy. I had to learn the lesson the hard way, but you know what? Lesson still learned.
Throughout my whole life my mom has been doing this. She sees an opportunity to give me advice, and proceeds to give me the advice. What happens after that, however, is up to me. She never sticks her nose back into my business asking why I didn’t take her advice or trying to get me to go another direction. She lets me forge my own paths. Example number two:
All throughout high school I talked about going to Penn State for college, about an hour and a half away. When the time came, I only applied to two colleges, and Penn State was not one of them. I didn’t want to go that far away to college. I chose Shippensburg, a college that was only about 50 minutes away. After the first semester, I absolutely hated it. Actually, I hated it two weeks into the semester. I wanted to come home. And while my mom wouldn’t let me come home in the middle of September, she did let me come home when the semester was over. She advised me to stay, said that it would get better, but she didn’t force me. I ended my first semester of Freshman year with a 3.0 gpa and a miserable attitude. A 3.0 was unusual for me. I graduated high school with all A’s. I just hated college so much that I couldn’t even bring myself to complete the work. It was awful. After deciding to come home, I transferred to the local community college and got a job at a day care working 30 hours a week. I spent hours upon hours wiping noses and changing diapers, but for the first time I actually started earning decent sized paychecks. The first semester at community college, I got a 3.5 gpa. Second semester, I got my first 4.0, all the while still working at the daycare. I was ecstatic. I put so much hard work into my studies when I actually liked my surroundings. After that second semester, I chose to transfer to IUP, three hours away from home, because I was now ready to leave the nest. I have gotten a 4.0 gpa every single semester after that. I excelled because I was happy where I ended up and I made that decision to go there on my own.
My mom didn’t tell me to transfer home. She didn’t tell me to transfer to IUP, but she didn’t tell me not to either. She wouldn’t ever tell me to break up with a boyfriend, to not start a diet, to get a different job, or anything like that. She let me make these decisions on my own because she knew I had to make my own mistakes in order to find myself. I could not be happier that she did that. I know who I am now and I think if she would’ve pushed her guidance on me, I would still be searching for myself. I wish more parents were like my mom. She let me make mistakes. She let me fail because she knew that in failing, I would find how to succeed. I couldn’t be more thankful.
I love you, mom.