Mom Angst

Our 19 year old son, Ethan, has been on my mind a lot lately, but not because he is doing anything illegal or immoral. Considering how perky he is at 7am when he’s heading out the door for his first class, at least I’m pretty sure he’s not.

The fact is that he’s a great kid with a lot of common sense. He keeps a B average at the JC, is appreciated at Blockbuster for being such hard-working and dependable employee, and if I give him two weeks advance notice, he’ll even clean up his room. And a teenage boy who talks to his parents? By 11pm when Steve and I can barely keep our eyes open, Ethan is just getting rolling about what makes any particular video game, internet site, or movie so awesome.

So you may be thinking with such a great teenager what have I got to be concerned about? I’m suffering from an acute case of “MA” ““ Mom Angst.

I worry about him because he is so darn happy with his life as it is now. He seems perfectly content with the four places that form the corners of his life: home, school, work, and friends. But I get concerned because he hasn’t made any plans for what he’s going to do when he finishes at the JC this semester. Yet the dichotomy is that when we sit down and discuss his future with him, he tells us he has plans that definitely do not include living at home and working full-time at an entry level job by the time he reaches 21.

But my efforts to encourage him to take some steps to do some research on what he’s going to do for life or school after the JC have not been met with a lot of enthusiasm on his part. I get a much more positive response when I ask him to mow the lawn. In fact, I’m starting to wonder if as a small child, that the doctors accidentally gave him an extra vaccination that makes him immune to “MA”. Stress can be contagious but not for Ethan. He is completely resistant to catching my fear about his future.

This is when I’m so grateful that I can express my frustration to Steve”¦before I pull out too many handfuls of my hair. He reminds me that like himself, Ethan is a late bloomer. Everyone does things at their own pace and that very few people actually have a straight road to where they end up. Perhaps Ethan just needs some help getting started on a path.

This helps me to slow down, and take a more compassionate approach to the overwhelming task that Ethan faces of figuring out where to go next. When I think back to my own experience, there was really only one option for me after high school. My Mom and Dad would pay for my education if I attended the (relatively inexpensive) state university that was about 15 minutes from our house so of course that’s what I did. I didn’t go through the steps of narrowing down schools to find one that matched my interests and personality. But wish I had, I think I would have learned a lot about what really was important to me, and in the end, my education would have meant more to me. 

I realized that I wasn’t helping the situation ““ and even if I could, sometimes it’s just hard to hear advice from a parent. So we’re getting some help from someone who specializes in the very situation we’re facing: engaging the student in the process of finding a school that really suits who they are and what they want to pursue, and of course, a school that might be willing to kick in a few bucks.

So my challenge now is to sit back and let the process unfold for both Ethan and us. And in the meantime, take some advice from one of Ethan’s favorite publications, “What, me worry?”

Nope, because I’ve got a really great son.

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