When the Example is a Person

I’ve written before that two of my three high schoolers take college classes. They don’t drive, which means I take them and tuck my grown out bangs behind my right ear and type while they’re in class. The halls smell like new gym floors at the community college, and the lights buzz (a person’s eye bags look infinitely worse under those lights, fyi). Cold air hovers around my neck because the only available “lounge” chairs stand in front of a drafty double window overlooking the parking lot.

man in black and white polo shirt beside writing board
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Me (today): How many absences do you have in your classes?”

Oldest: Like, how many times have we missed, or how many can we miss?

Me: How many can you? I can’t keep track.

Oldest: I have three or four left.

Middle: Same.

Me (knowing I shouldn’t): Do you want to blow off class?

Oldest: I’m never gonna say no to that.

Middle: I don’t know…

Me: I just don’t feel like it. At all. I know I’m not supposed to say that to you.

Oldest: I don’t have anything due.

Me (envisioning my kids someday dropping out of college because I set a bad example): I just can’t make myself go to class.

Middle: I guess it’s fine.

Oldest: I would never choose to go to class.

Me: You have to go to class. Only once in a blue moon can you skip. You know that, right?

Middle: My professor has missed more than we have.

Me: I’m going to change into pajama pants.






Trying Hard and Letting Go

Something I’ve been mulling over: how do I work at something that takes up a lot of my time and mental energy, something I care a lot about, but not put ultimate hope in the results of my work?


You think I’m talking about writing, but I’m talking about raising kids. My oldest is 17, now, and my baby is 14. So much of what I’ve prioritized in the last 17 years is stuff that can’t be measured. The trips to museums, the long talks and I’m sorry’s, the tears over math worksheets, the orchestra concerts and travel, have they made a difference in my kids’ lives?


My kids are almost grown. They’re intellectually curious and kind. They’re beginning to know their place in in the world.

Still. How many of those traits would they have developed without focused effort on my part? Has what I worked for in the last 17 years mattered?


Also, how do I let my kids fail (which is so important) and not feel it as my failure? How do I let go of the results of years of caring?


Maybe this is one reason I write–because the joys and sorrows it brings, my various successes and failures, belong only to me.


*photos 1-3 taken by my oldest son