Before I start this post, I should clarify “FOMO” for us older-than-we-are-willing-to-admit parents. Fear Of Missing Out. Yes, this is a real thing. Now you can tell your children you learned something new today.
I don’t remember my decision to attend college to be a tough one. I had always wanted to go to ORU. I applied, got accepted, and went. I wasn’t worried about the money or what I was going to study or where I was going to live. I checked a box for the next chapter of my life…and showed up.
I am so thankful for God’s miraculous hand in all those decisions, because I didn’t have a clue. I am amazed it all worked out…I liked what I studied, I didn’t feel anxious or overwhelmed, and I blindly walked on to campus ready to roll.
30 years later…I periodically experience anxiety.
30 years later…I sometimes wonder if we are making the right choices.
30 years later…I fear the future.
30 years later…I fear my son will miss out.
My soon-to-be graduate is a great kid. He has dreams and hopes for his future and a clear passion for the arts and his own personal expression. When we started talking about college a few years ago, he told me he wasn’t going.
I believe my response was something like, “WHAT????? That isn’t even an option.”
To clarify, I am fine with him doing an internship or going to a trade school or even having a plan to work for a year first, but I am not okay with him not having a plan. I know he is tired of hearing how both his parents navigated these years, but neither Philip nor I had a magic money tree that paid for all of our dreams. We worked, we played, we saved (very little), and then we got up the next day and started all over again.
We have encouraged a plan. We have prayed about a plan. We have taken deep breaths when talking with him about a plan.
After years of encouraging, directly, and a bit of prodding, Elliot surprised us this year with firm goals for the next 4 years.
His plan is to stay here the next 2 years, attend our incredibly affordable community college, and then transfer to a 4-year university. He wants to get involved in our community band and our church worship team. He is going to continue working with children both at church and at the karate school. Certainly a bigger plan than I had the day I walked on campus.
Yes, we are happy with his plan. We are also okay if this plan changes. We just didn’t want him graduating without a hope for the future. Community college is a great option for him because he is more concerned about staying connected to our church and pastors than about living on the edge of life.
This is where I struggle…
I know this plan is good. I know this plan has a hope for something better. I am proud of him for making decisions that will work for all his goals…not just academics. But I also have a fear. It comes out of nowhere…this fear he will miss out.
When I hear of someone going to a 4-year school and how all the finances are working out, the roommates are falling into place, and the scholarships are rolling in…my heart constricts a bit.
What if he needs more?
What if this isn’t the best plan?
What if he doesn’t go to a 4-year-school and he misses out?
Will he be well rounded?
What if he doesn’t have any friends who stay home?
Blah, Blah, Blah….
These are the fears that make people do stupid things…like fake SAT scores or athletic records or pay large amounts of money for acceptance letters to the best schools. Maybe I shouldn’t go there?? Oh, Aunt Becky…how could you??
These fears are real people! I don’t want my kid to be left behind or left out and it didn’t stop just because he is close to graduating. The same playground fears I had when he was 3 are still present today as I watch him transition into an adult life. I want him to experience it all, but he isn’t me. His definition of a “full life” is not the same as mine.
Elliot likes consistency. He isn’t looking for the party. For him, his family is the party. (Yes, I will take a bow here for being a completely obnoxious over-the-top mom.) He is already asking how he should find a church when he goes away to college. What? Philip and I had a good laugh at that one. We certainly weren’t wondering how to find a church at his age. He is concerned about making a difference and doing things well.
I know my fears are unfounded. I believe this is the right plan…for right now. I believe in my son and I also believe in a God who can change all these plans in a moment and direct his steps.
Every phase of this parenting journey has been a pull and tug between my will and my trust in God. At every turn, I must surrender my children over to Him and believe His ways are not my ways. So instead of acting on my fears with control and micromanagement, I am committed to trust Jesus with these plans and give Him complete permission to guide and direct my son’s every move.
And I have to admit...I am thrilled to have this kid home for a few more years. All of this hard work is finally paying off. ♥️
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."
I am a girl passionately in love with Jesus, my husband, and my children. I am forever learning how to live a life completely undone for my God. This blog is about my journey and a few funny stories in between.