A College Education is Wasted on an 18 Year Old

This upcoming weekend, we will be picking up our oldest as he completed his first year of college. Then, he’ll be home for the foreseeable future, as he’s decided that it wasn’t for him. The major was full of people he didn’t want to work with for the rest of his life. The major was one where they wanted more of the same, not someone who wanted to shake up the system to make it fair. The college itself just wasn’t for him. Did I fight his decision? Did I tell him he was wrong and he should suck it up? No. I didn’t. Because he’s a smart adult and I trust that he made this decision after careful thought, not rushing to some rash idea that he stubbornly stuck to.

I was telling my OB about it at our most recent appointment, where she said “I always say that a college education is wasted on an 18 year old.” She’s right. I wouldn’t have been as successful in college had I jumped right in after high school. It works for some people. It’s the right path for some people. But for others, they just waste money only to end up at a fast food restaurant and hoping they can make enough to cover their student loan debt. Will it eventually be the right move for my oldest? Probably. As hard as it is, we just have to sit back and let our children take control of their own destiny. We can’t make their decisions for them forever. Part of being an adult is raising them and hoping that you did enough so that they can make the right decisions for them. Whether you agree with it or not. I trust my son. I support him. I agree he made the right choice. $15k a year is a lot when you realize you have no clue what you want to do with your life. It also couldn’t have been easy for him to do, since he’s spent his entire life working towards this goal.

My love for my son isn’t contingent on his getting a college education, going to a fancy school, or having a fancy job title. My love for my son isn’t contingent on anything. I only want him to be a good person who makes a positive impact on the world around him, while being able to financially support himself and be a productive member of society. That’s what I care about. I’m not better than anyone because I graduated college. Having a graduate degree doesn’t make you smarter than everyone or a superior being. It’s the little things. It’s how you treat others. A person who treats everyone as equals will always be the superior person in my book. You don’t have to put someone down to be on top.

Will he eventually go back to school? Who knows. It’s not my decision. He’s nearly 20. These are the tough decisions that he is going to have to make for himself. But, at least he can make them knowing that he has the love and support of his parents no matter what.

Sometimes Things are Just Out of Your Control

I was hoping that by the time I reached 24 weeks pregnant, I’d feel a lot better not having to manage with morning sickness. I was mostly right, but when it hits, boy does it hit. After going to a few regular checkups, I was happy that despite my age they determined that I was a low-risk pregnancy. That was great news. After that appointment, I scheduled my ultrasound, excited to see our little Beanie. (Bean was the nickname my husband gave her. It stuck with us and has become her name until she’s born.) It was a big day. My husband took the time to come with me, because ultrasounds are never appointments that he misses. It was a great day.

It was sweet. Beanie was active (and has grown to be so active that we now sometimes refer to her as our “Jumping Bean”). She was developing perfectly and she was healthy. There’s no better news to hear in the world. After sharing our pictures with family that day, we finally broke out the Baby Book. One just like I had purchased for the boys. Where I worked on it for a single day and never once filled in any of the other pages. It was a fun time, until I got the email about a message from my provider. I read through it, thinking no big deal. They would have said if there was something to worry about. Apparently it was determined that there was a minor issue: marginal cord insertion.

At first you hear something’s wrong, then you start a spiral of “what does it all mean?” Do you immediately doomscroll through Google? Do you just wait to hear from your doctor? Me, being me, just assumed if the doctor emailed me rather than called me, it was probably not a major concern. I went to reputable medical sites like the Mayo Clinic (which my doctor later confirmed were the right places to go). From what I read? They generally don’t know why it’s really highlighted as much as it is. I avoided mommy blogs, because they’d try selling stuff like “it’s because you need (insert essential oil here) in your life” or “it’s because you were vaccinated”. I read some forums, where everyone who had the issue said “no big deal”. That satisfied me. No downward spiral. No anxiety. What good would that do anyways? Anxiety is not great for myself or Beanie.

Now, I just need to go through more frequent appointments to measure my size and get another ultrasound at 32 weeks to make sure her growth is on track. My OB isn’t too concerned. She told me not to be too concerned. That this is why we get closely monitored, so in case there is a problem they can catch it right away. That ultimately, the biggest issue could be when I deliver, but even then it’s rarely a serious issue. I’ll take the win.

Pregnancy is there to prepare you to just give up control. You can only control so much during the pregnancy and delivery of your child. You can only control so much as a parent. Some things are just out of your control, and being okay with that is the best thing that you can do. No sense in stressing about all the things that you can’t control. It’s not good for you.

When Things Start Falling into Place

I haven’t been around as much as I would like to be. But I promise there’s only a good reason for that: not very serious but moderate enough morning sickness. While I’m lucky enough to not have extreme morning sickness, I have to admit that every day can be a bit of a struggle to function as a normal human being. I’m a “suck it up, buttercup” type of girl, so I do my best. I’ve managed to make it through my work day without too much of an issue, mostly thanks to medications. But once I’m home, it’s hard to do anything aside from trying to get comfortable on the couch or attempt sleep.

It’s exciting though, because my husband and I had always agreed upon 3 kids. That was our number. That was our goal. 3 seems like a good number. Plus, apparently I have 1 kid every 10 years, which is a hilarious thing to think about. When my husband first brought up his wish for another one, I was scared. I’m now 38. That’s an “elderly” or “geriatric” pregnancy. Would I even successfully get pregnant? If I do, what complications would I suffer from? It was scary, but this was also something I really wanted. And I knew I had the best partner by my side through this process.

I had given up after some time of trying. It wasn’t going to happen, I thought. I forgot about it. Until I started to just not feel right and decided maybe I should take a test. I had stopped tracking dates but realized I didn’t know how late I was. It happened. I was so excited that I woke my husband up at what he would deem an obscenely early time. It was 5 a.m. He wasn’t mad. He was excited. 3 tests a day a part later, we started the plan. I chose a new doctor. The next few weeks were getting doctor appointments setup, scheduling viability ultrasounds and blood tests. Explaining that I’ve never had morning sickness but I thought losing nearly 10 pounds wasn’t great. (Turns out, it wasn’t bad since I was slightly overweight, so it wasn’t too big of a deal.) Then having them prescribe medicines that would help. It still feel like death, but at least now I can eat a little more.

The baby was healthy. My blood work was great. I got the Panorama blood test due to my age and risk of chromosomal disorders, which gave this extra benefit of finding out the gender before the 20 week ultrasound. My husband and I hoped for a girl, since we already have 2 boys. But we really didn’t care as much as long as it was healthy. My OB asked me what I thought it was. I told her that I thought it was a girl. Not because that’s what my hope was, but because this pregnancy had been so different so far. With both of the boys, I was exhausted all of the time. I just wanted to eat and sleep. I had no energy. This time, I felt like I had a flu that I just couldn’t shake. She said that she always thought that if the pregnancy felt different, it’s probably because it was and agreed that I might be right. Turns out… I was.

We’re in the second trimester now. 14 weeks. Anything can happen still, but I’m hopeful. We bought our first onesies and footie set for her. We won’t buy anything else for her for a while, just in case. But she is so loved already. She’s the only granddaughter for my parents, which makes it especially exciting for them. But all I can do is follow the doctor’s orders and hope that things work out.

That’s what’s so odd about pregnancy. It’s makes you feel so powerful and so powerless. You can’t really control when it happens. It happens when/if it’s meant to. You can’t control if the pregnancy goes full-term or if you have a miscarriage. Sometimes, things just happen even if you did everything right. But, it’s so powerful knowing that you are creating a life. But you feel so powerless if something goes wrong. I’m trying to stay positive. That this is something that is falling into place and show that good things are coming. I feel such joy and hope, that I’m worried it will come crashing down. But I just have to keep telling myself that what will happen, will happen. I just have to trust the journey.

Raising the Next Generation of Wusses

My school district cancelled school today due to freezing temperatures. Yes, I live in Massachusetts and it’s cold in winter. The sheer amount of people with their panties in a twist over it was shocking. Do these people complaining even have kids? “What’s the big deal?”, I wondered. “This is why the next generation is full of wusses.” That was the answer.

I get it. There is some questionable behaviors from the next generation. But what bothers me is that they say, “Well, it was good enough for us to go to school during a blizzard in negative 20 degree weather…” Great, we should just settle for the status quo because that’s how it’s always been done? Shouldn’t we want better for our kids? Parents in my generation took a belt to their kids. Doesn’t mean we should be doing that today. We shouldn’t just make things, especially with the safety of our children, stay the same when there are things that we could do to improve their lives. For instance, car seats. Car seats used to be optional, but we use them today because it’s safer for kids. But I mean, because not having seat belts and car seats was good enough for us, it’s obviously good enough for our kids. (See how ridiculous that sounds?)

I get it. With stories like a basketball coach being suspended because their team had 80 something points on the other team, there is some level of babying that goes too far. The coach shouldn’t be suspended because the other team sucked. That’s life. There’s going to be something/someone miles better than you. Doesn’t mean they should be punished for it. That’s a line. There’s a difference between a participation prize and a babying prize. There are things that are making kids not ready for the real world, such as not having any rules or consequences for their actions. But, making them walk in negative wind chills is not really the play here. Especially when your argument is, “I have to work in the cold.” Well guess what? You’re an adult. If you don’t want to work out in the cold, get a different job. Isn’t that the argument when fast food employees want more money? It’s just that easy to find a new job, right?

The point is there are things that are making the next generation soft, but is that really necessarily a bad thing? When done right, this is what helps make a generation of people who want to do good in the world, and honestly we could use a lot more of that these days. Now, when they start asking questions like “Is peanut butter and jelly racist?” then that’s a line. When they think they can do whatever they want without consequences (cough: Kyle Rittenhouse, “affluenza teen”, Brock Turner) that’s a line. No one is above consequences for bad behaviors. But frostbite because kids are walking to school in negative wind chills really is not the hill to die on.

The New Year is Coming for Us All

I remember back as 2020 was approaching, I had some atypical optimism of how that was going to be a great year. I very quickly learned that what I was feeling was probably more impending doom and I was lying to myself with how that year ended up. 2021, it was going to be my oldest son’s year. He would get all those fun senior activities, filling out scholarships and college applications, getting accepted to his first choice school. Then, a fun graduation. He didn’t get all those fun senior activities, which apparently he was thrilled about. But, he did get into his top choice school so there’s that.

In 2022, I’m going in with trepidatious optimism. This could be my year. This could be a fantastic year for me. It could also go very wrong. I never go into the New Year with that “New Year, New Me” crap. If I wanted to change something about me, I’m not going to wait. I’ll just do it. I don’t believe in resolutions. Those are just lies that we tell ourselves for about a week before forgetting the whole thing. I do go in a little hopeful of a fresh start. For instance, I’m hoping that this is the year where I get at least a single parking spot in front of my house from the apartment people who don’t feel like using their parking lot. Which is honestly, much closer than walking from my house. Maybe I get that wish this year. Doubtful though, because they own our street and we have to just suck up the fact that I can’t use my driveway sometimes or that my guests have to park at the end of my street to visit me. /endrant

The thing is that you could let the fear of the New Year take you down, you could let it inspire you to make that change you’ve been wanting to… or you could just view it as another day. It doesn’t matter. The New Year comes for us all. We are just living out whatever fate it brings us. Hopefully, it has decided that we’re all due a little big luck. Maybe I hit the lottery, the housing market finally cools a bit, and I can move out of this house. Maybe people will suddenly realize that the “conservatives vs. liberals” is just something that the politicians use to control us, so while we’re all bickering like toddlers about it they can do whatever they want without us noticing. Maybe people will learn to be more open-minded to other’s beliefs and accept others for those beliefs. There’s a lot of possibilities. That mostly won’t happen because people are only going to get worse and I have no faith in humanity left especially after these past few years.

The New Year is coming for us all. We can either change what we put out in the world or we can stay the same and nothing happens. There’s always a choice and maybe this new year is the year we finally make the right choices. But I do want to wish you and your families a very Happy New Year.

There are 4 Sleeps Until Christmas

It’s that time of year again when I remind everyone what the greatest gift of all is: love. And love is free. I would rather have your love all year long than an expensive present. I love the thought behind gifts, but what I love most is being with the people who are family, whether by blood, marriage, or friendship. That’s the most important thing this time of year. Family. It’s something we missed out on last year to keep everyone safe, but I’m actually really excited to get back into something more normal this year. And it’s going to be a great Christmas.

With that in mind, I’d like to do my annual Christmas reminders:

  • It’s easy to get caught up in spending a fortune on Christmas presents. I’ve learned a long time ago that I never go into debt for Christmas presents anymore. Your kids and family members may like the presents for the short-term, but your credit score and financial stability are far more important than being impressive. If you can afford fancy, go for it. If you can’t, it doesn’t matter. Your thoughtful gifts matter no matter how much they cost.
  • Don’t forget to give back. Find some little way to give back this year. You may not think that you’re fortunate, but I guarantee there are plenty of people out there that wish they were as “unfortunate” as you are. Buy that bag of groceries to donate to a food pantry or family in need. Buy grocery items off the list for the U.S.O to help our troops. And don’t forget the furry cuties in the shelters, who could also very much benefit from your generosity.
  • Be kind. Holidays can be extraordinarily hard for some people. Maybe they recently lost someone they loved and this is the first holiday without them. Maybe they are missing someone every year that they wish could be with them. Maybe they have no one to share the holidays with. Even if you can’t be bothered to go out of your way to be kind, do everything in your power not to be an ass.
  • It’s all about family and those who matter most to you. These are the people who are there for you for your ups and downs. Take this time to really cherish how fortunate you are this holiday season as you are surrounded by love. I know I will.

I say all of this as a self-professed Grinch who absolutely hates the holidays. There are better emotions to spend your energy on this holiday season than negativity. You may even find some glimmer of hope this year. Because we could all use some of that after the past year or 2 that we’ve had.

When They Come Home Again

My oldest has only been back from college a handful of times since he moved on campus across state at the end of August. He was home a couple of times on random weekends. He came back for a week at Thanksgiving. But next week, our boy comes home for an entire month and I cannot be more excited. While he does indulge his sometimes-too-loving parents on a nightly phone call, a routine he doesn’t seem to mind or complain about, it’s just not the same as having him home. The hardest part of parenting is when they grow up.

They do leave eventually, and that’s the point, isn’t it? We spend all of our time and energy trying to shape them into productive adults that, at minimum, live long enough to move out on their own. At best, they do something remarkable to leave a lasting impact on the world and making it a better place. But ultimately, we just want them to be happy. We want to teach them that their worth doesn’t come down to their income, that as long as they are making enough to get by that’s an accomplishment that not everyone has the luxury of. That they don’t have to accept what they have, because acceptance means they remain stagnant. No. We want them to be grateful for everything that they have, but to have aspirations that take them to the stars and beyond.

When my oldest comes home again, he will be (hopefully) welcomed by his favorite Christmas cookies that were lovingly made by his mother. He’ll get long talks about video games, anime, and superheroes with his father. His little brother will just have long talks about anything, while he politely obliges his brother’s inability to stop talking. He’ll be welcomed home by all of his family that love him dearly, excited to see their college boy that they’ve been so proud of for as long as he’s been born or since he became a part of their lives. The grandmothers will dote on him, asking him about when he’s going to bring home a “friend” or whether or not he’s eating enough at school. He will catch up with his friends and cousins to the point of I’m not sure if I’ll even get time with him while he’s home. But at least he’ll be home, for a month anyways.

It’s always that torn feeling you get though. You want them to go out in the world to accomplish their dreams. You want them to grow up and become the amazing individuals that you believed they would from the minute they were born. But, you want them near you so that you can protect them forever even when you know that you have to let some of that go. For now, I’ll just enjoy having him home.

Thanksgiving is Nearly Here

This year, people can share their homes for the holidays after that year we would like to all forget. But with this annual holiday, I’d just like to remind people of a few things.

Be grateful for what you have, even if you don’t think it’s that much. You have more than others and that’s something to be grateful for. I’m grateful because I have an amazing family system, both my biological family and the one I married into. I’m grateful because I have the best friends on the planet and you can’t change my mind. I have a roof over my head, that may not seem like much, but it’s ours. We worked hard for it and I don’t care whether or not you’re impressed by it. It’s mine and I’m grateful every day for it. I’m grateful for my writing jobs and my current job. I’m grateful to have my husband and the boys. It’s easy to forget about the things that you should be grateful for when you’re busy trying to keep up with the Joneses. But once you start listing them, you realize there’s a lot to be grateful for.

You don’t have to agree with someone to be kind to them. These days, there’s this hard line drawn between conservatism and liberalism. It still boggles my mind how crazy people are about this. Instead of tossing childish insults and ignoring the other side, maybe try finding some common ground. Can’t find anything to agree on? Who said you had to? One person’s beliefs should not dictate whether or not you should be kind to them. Kill ’em with kindness anyways. Sometimes taking the higher ground is the best choice, because then you can walk away with the moral satisfaction that you didn’t stoop to someone else’s level. Just be kind. And here’s a little hint: it doesn’t even need to be a holiday for you to be kind. Think about it.

And finally, take the time to give back. I’m of the belief, and this is something I’ve worked so hard to instill in my kids, is that you should do something that can make a difference in someone’s life. I think you should do this every day that you can, but this is especially important at the holidays. Some people have difficult relationships with their families. Some people don’t have families. Some people don’t have homes or money for their own holiday meal. You shouldn’t need to advertise your good deed to get social media karma points. You should just want to help your fellow person. Even the smallest act can have some significant impact, whether you realize it or not. Make your impact today.

That’s my annual reminder for the holidays. Enjoy your time with your family or friends or anyone else that you choose to spend your day with. Life’s too short, so appreciate it more.

Finding Your Voice

I’ve always encouraged a little activism in my boys. I told them to fight for what they believe in, whatever that may be. That if they believed so strongly in something, they should educate themselves and if they need to fight for it, then they should. That’s how positive changes are made in the world. Whatever they are passionate about and believe in, that’s what cause they should back. I would support them no matter what. Well, I mean within reason. If they aren’t hurting anyone or encouraging anyone to be hurt, then knock yourself out. Well, I mean also within reason. I think people who hate on others and start hurling slurs at another human being deserves a nice knock to the jaw. Not that I would actively encourage that on any platform. I just won’t denounce anyone for it. What’s the joke? Punching Nazis is the American way?

My oldest son has always been hesitant to fight. He wanted to participate in things like walkouts at the school to support the teachers, but he was afraid of the consequences. I told him that was his choice. But that if he was suspended for doing that, I certainly wasn’t going to punish him for it. I’m a firm believer in the right to a peaceful protest. He wanted to go to college and not have any blemishes on his record. I told him that the right school wouldn’t care. As far as I know, he never participated in those protests. He’s boring. I would bet anything my youngest boy wouldn’t hesitate. Mostly because he’s a bit on the mischievous side. And we love him for his… willfulness.

On my oldest son’s Facebook, he posted a thing about a counter-protest on his campus. This protest was for a supposed preacher who was spewing hate on campus. (I believe no true man of God spews hate. If they do, then that proves my side of atheism because that’s a God I want nothing to do with.) That if you’re in the LGBTQ+ community or support them, you’re going to hell. From what my son had told me about him, he walks around the area where the classes are, speaking fire and brimstone. Which, I suppose tracks for Salem, MA. I’m hopeful this is a sign that he has found his voice. That he was going to use his voice to fight for something he believes in. And I’ve never been more proud of my boy.

It’s empowering when you finally find your voice. Whether it’s being away from your comfort zone causing you to stand up more for what you believe in or age or wisdom or newfound confidence in yourself. Your voice, oral or written, is one of the most powerful weapons you have. You have the choice to use it to fight for whatever injustice you feel needs to be fought. You can use your voice to make a difference. And I will always support a strong voice as long as they aren’t used for the wrong things. If they are used to incite violence or hate, then I will never support that. I don’t care what side of the aisle you are on. As long as you’re being respectful and aren’t running on a platform of hate and/or violence, you should use your voice. The minute we stifle that voice, especially because we don’t agree with it, we’re stifling another person’s voice. And as much as it’s hard to think about in this divisive world, they have the right to their peaceful voice.

Find your voice and use it. That’s it. That’s the advice.

Taking Back the Power

We’re all guilty of taking other people’s perceptions of us and using that to prove our worth. But our worth isn’t dependent on other’s perceptions of us. We determine our own worth. The minute that you let others take that from you, you let them win.

Too many times, we shy away from striving for our dreams. Why do we do that? It’s mostly fear, but is it our fear that we can’t do it? That we’re not good enough? Or, does this fear come externally? Are you afraid of achieving your goals because other people will think that it’s silly? It’s easier to just give up on your dreams than fight through all of the noise trying to achieve them. It doesn’t matter if you’re a college freshman or a nearly 40-year-old woman. We all have this believe that we should have it all figured out by a certain age. But let’s be honest here: how many people actually do? I’m willing to guarantee a lot more people died in the world, just winging it because they didn’t have it figured out. Knowing that should give you some type of comfort that just maybe, there’s no age that you need to have everything figured out. And as I always say, “that’s ok.”

You just need to find some passion in your life, no matter how silly you think other people think it is. If your passion is to stay home and raise a family while your partner works, good for you in knowing what you want to do. If you want to be a writer or a teacher or an FBI agent, and you are truly passionate about achieving that goal, the only thing that should be holding you back is you. And if you decide, “nah, maybe not?” That’s okay too. Sometimes you just have to experience it to know whether or not that’s the right path for you.

This can sometimes be the pressure that makes kids more stressed out than they need to be. That they need to apply to college with a specific program and stick to it because they had to have a plan. Then, for some reason, people make them feel guilty for deciding to go another route. Maybe they found that what they though was their passion, really wasn’t. That’s okay. That’s what college is for. I switched my major halfway through. I get it. You have a dream and realize that maybe you don’t love it anymore.

But, you should never give it up for other people. Don’t give them that power. If you are truly passionate about something, pardon my language, then “fuck ’em”. They don’t dictate your life. You do. Take back the power and do what you want with your life. As long as you can go to bed at peace with yourself, you’ll be all right.