Being 17 Years Old

When I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I was convinced that I’d have the baby on my 32nd birthday. After all, my son came 4 days before his due date and my daughter’s due date was four days after my birthday…it seemed to be destiny. Except it wasn’t. I ate spicy food. I did hand-stands, I tried all the harmless ways to induce my child to be born on my birthday…but indeed, labor started a moment after midnight when my birthday had passed. She was born two days past my birthday and in December rather than November. One thing that she couldn’t change, however, was being born a Sagittarian…woo hoo, a minor victory for mom.

Which is not to say that we are similar in temperament or talent. At least we went through childhood on the same schedule, being the same age at each milestone, right?…but no, we didn’t do that either. I hated being one of the oldest kids in my class growing up…well, I  probably didn’t mind at first and I certainly didn’t mind getting my driver’s license early or hitting 18 early…but I was really frustrated by my senior year in high school to not be in college already. So, with my daughter, I monitored her progress carefully and she was ready for Kindergarten before her fifth birthday, so off she went. That means that now she is going off to college at an age where I was just starting my senior year of high school.

I don’t really remember much about my senior year except that I didn’t get into AP English and I wrote a lot of essays for college. Not getting into the English class was devastating and inexplicable…until I found out from my English teacher that my essay was fabulous, but they thought I was too shy and wouldn’t participate much in class. Within two weeks of the year, my English teacher acknowledged that it had been a mistake as I was the most engaged person in her class. I wonder if I might have taken a completely different path in college if I’d been allowed to take AP English. Instead, even knowing that English was my passion, I applied only to engineering schools. My rationale was that I needed a challenge and I hadn’t gotten one in high school.

When it comes to my children, I always try to assure them that the choices they make won’t doom them to a single path in life…not to get too stressed about their choice of college major. I’ve learned that I am happy where I am today and I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am without the life experiences I’ve had.  But I do think it’s important to stick to something until you can come to a logical conclusion. I finished my engineering degree even though I found it even more challenging than I’d hoped. Then I moved on.

My daughter has always been an artist and it’s no surprise that she took a lot of art in high school and looked at college as a place to continue her work. I have encouraged her over the years to try many types of art. So, although she’s had plenty of drawing, painting, and sculpture classes, she also has taken summer programs in architecture, animation, graphic design, and photography. Even so, it was a delightful surprise when she came up with a combination I hadn’t thought of…art therapy! She can’t major in it as an undergraduate, so her focus is on a dual degree in psychology and art.

So, while I was still immersed in small-town school politics, college applications, and senioritis, at the exact same age, my daughter is about to do what I longed to do back then…take off for college and the beginning of a new phase of her life. I am so excited for her and doing my darnedest to let go of her gracefully.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and the peace in knowing that it really is time to let her fly!

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2 thoughts on “Being 17 Years Old

  1. I remember my last year of high school as a great year . I knew it would be the last year I could live off my folks , so it was time to make choices . At the time I have a BEUTIFUL and super smart girl friend . She was getting set to go off to colleage and I was going to a local community colleage . I knew the job a wanted ( sales ) but I just needed to kill a few years and grow up ( I really need to grow up ) . My beautiful girlfriend told me one night that all I was going to do in life was be a volunteer fireman and live in the same little town . Well , I took those words to heart and they gave me motivation . I moved out if my folks house at 19 and never went back .. After graduating collage I moved to Pittsburgh . I was salesman of the year by my second year at work . I always wanted to thank that beautiful girlfriend I had .. She gave me directions in life and made me grow up …. Thank you 🙂

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