The truth has been carved into one simple sentence. You have to pass this class.
The pandemic has been a mixed bag at my house. There have been advantages – no teenager needs to be out of the house before their eyes have opened. There have been disadvantages – no teenager ever needs to leave the house, ever. I’m craving a moment to have them all gone, just for a few hours, to give the place a full scrub down and probably rinse and repeat.
With the older girl transferring to a university to complete her degree after doing all the brickwork at community college, she’s been living at her desk; drawing, coding, writing, zoom calls, the whole enchilada. The younger one is finishing high school, so she’s been parked in a variety of locations – desk, dining room, couch, patio table – doing her writing, zoom calls, research and all the rest.
While I have to turn the living room into a yoga studio several times a week for my zoom sessions, the mantras that I’m working with are far more abstract than theirs. The words are whispered, spoken and shouted several times a day. I have to pass this class, You have to pass this class. This class. Have to. You have to pass.
(Spoiler alert – They are going to pass.)
When I became a mother, I made that silent vow that so many parents make; I will raise you better than I was raised. I will support you more than I was supported. I will love you more than I was loved. At that, I have succeeded.
When my children were small, I had an agreement with myself. The housework can wait. When I had to choose between a child and a sink full of dishes, the fact is that dishes do not mind waiting. They do not care. When children need you, they need you now. My girls wanted to play, or read a book, I knew that was more important. No inanimate object or other situation gets priority.
There were traumas and disasters, to be sure, but we got through them by facing the problem rather than pretending it didn’t exist. There was school and therapy and camp and scouts and church; all those things that can help focus the fact that life happens to everyone. It’s not just you. And I could not have done it without school and therapy and camp and scouts and church. No one raises children in a vacuum.
As we order the cap and gown, as we go over the acceptance letters and the details, it occurs to me that I have almost passed this class. There’s no deadline on motherhood, and no grades either. Success is a far more nebulous thing to measure.
But just the fact that we have survived the pandemic, everyone is vaxxed, we are all mostly sane and moving forward. When we sit down for brunch on Mother’s Day, I will be pleased that they have all learned to cook ( at least one or two things) really well. I have a few people ready to join the adult population and make the world a better place.
It will be a long time before they realize how much they have learned, but they do know education is more than passing the class.