Some moments in life make us stop and assess our progress towards maturity. I would like to think I recently experienced one of those.
I began this blog relating tears and drama over homecoming photos. Just keep that in mind.
Our oldest daughter is in college. She began at the local community college and is preparing to transfer to a four-year university next fall. Part of that preparation is the sticker shock of four-year university tuition vs. community college tuition. So scholarship applications are heavy on the winter to-do list.
She wrote one of her scholarship essays and sent me the draft. Both her mom and I were part of the story as she explained how she came to choose her field of study, her mother through a childhood fear and I through advice on an elective in a discipline with which she fell in love.
The essay was a rough draft and, as such, could have benefitted from some revision. I read it through, sent my comments and mechanical corrections, and sent it back.
Because I go to bed with the senior citizen crew and she works through the wee hours and sleeps all morning, our work schedules have a shallow overlap. She continued to revise long after I was asleep, so sought her fellow night person, her mother.
What resulted from that conversation was roughly the same essay, but the portion that told how she came to choose her field of study had altered. The story with her mother had expanded, added some drama (not a bad thing in a scholarship essay). So childhood fear was heightened. The choice to take the elective, however, was now completely due to this childhood fear. My previous cameo, my role as advisor, encourager-in-chief, had disappeared.
I had literally been written out of the story.
A few years ago, I would have been devastated that our daughter went with this advice. I would have taken this as a sign that I was not loved, would never achieve parity, and that life was perpetually unfair.
Now I take this as confirmation that I will never achieve parity and that life is unfair. But I’m ok with both of those. I don’t want to be equal. I want to be me and our relationship to be ours. And I feel sorry for her mother that she felt the need to write me out of the story, whatever the reason. And I empathize with our daughter, who has been torn between her need to please and affirm two adult women throughout her entire childhood and now young adulthood.
I cannot take away the ways in which I responded to my circumstances and the pain I caused her each time I responded by pulling her my direction. I have changed the way I respond now. Now she is pulled one way, and I can’t control that.
But I can chuckle about it with you for me and ask you to empathize for her. And her.
And hope you agree this is progress.