Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Calling

What are you doing the rest of your life?
North and South and East and West of your life
I have only one request of your life
That you spend it all with me

What Are You Doing the Rest Of Your Life?
-Music by Michel Legrand Lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman

The rest of your life. Think about that - right now. What are YOU doing the rest of YOUR life? Pretty daunting thought, isn’t it? Yeah, in fact, I think if somebody asked you that question, you might be kind of irritated. I would be.

Yet, for some reason, we basically ask this question of college kids all the time. It’s no wonder they sleep past noon and grunt in response. They’re avoiding that question, dammit!

Everybody loves college kids. We live vicariously through them and beg them to share wild college stories when they come home on break. It stirs up our own fond memories of those crazy carefree days.

But were they ever really that carefree? As I watched my own college kid when he was home on break, I suddenly remembered back to those days – a quarter of a century ago. (Gulp.) There’s one thing that I’d forgotten – that prevailing sense of fear. The idea that sure, college is fun and all, but what the heck am I going to do when I get out of this place?!

I was raised Catholic and the nuns, in their never-ending attempts to lure us into a life of “serving the Lord,” spent a lot of time talking to us kids about “getting the call.” They’d ease us into the idea by saying that everyone has a “calling.” A special job that God created us to do. Some of us were doctors or lawyers or, gasp!, priests and nuns! Back then, I took things pretty literally. Not that I had anything against the clergy, but let’s just say that I avoided the phone like the plague. What if I got the call?! I don’t want THE CALL.

Eventually, I worked past that and spent years trying to find my passion. And although I had some fits and starts, I think I did figure out if not my destination, at least the direction I should be headed.

For some reason, it all seems tougher today. As much as we had choices 25 years ago, you can take those choices and multiply them ten-fold. And because of that, I think there’s an assumption that this makes it easier on college kids. I think it’s tougher. To me, it’s like shopping for eggs in the world’s largest grocery store. You just want eggs. Not choices – eggs.

As parents, this is where it gets really frustrating. We want nothing more than our kids finding something that they are passionate about. Because we know that the years wear on you and if you don’t love what you do 40 hours a week, life gets a lot harder. But there’s absolutely nothing we can do to help them. Nothing. No really. Despite our best efforts, they’ll either find it or they won’t and it will have almost nothing to do with us.

What we can do is encourage them, even if we don’t understand or like what they’re doing. (OK, sure, you can draw the line at illegal, but I’m just saying that we should be open-minded.) And we can probably stop asking them that question, because we already know the answer.


At 9:37 AM , Anonymous ma said...

Thanks for this. Why is this stage of parenthood so hard?

And why are there white eggs, brown eggs, pasturized, organic, vegetarian and free-range?

At 8:55 PM , Blogger kenju said...

Good post, and welcome back, you've been gone too long. We all hope our children will find something they love and are good at. The bad parts come if we try to push them into something they don't really want. I had a friend who became a preacher just because his daddy was, and it was expected of him. He was good at it, but he never felt really called, and after 30 years, he quit and went into counselling. He was much better suited to that.

At 6:59 PM , Blogger angela marie said...

So what if you are 40 and in college? Then what? :)

At 12:59 AM , Anonymous SleeplessinWisc said...

This is so true and if only we could help them. I gave them all the info they needed to make a decision with the help of the school counselor. One of the things we provided to them was jobs in demand, potential earnings, etc. They both made good decisions. Now I pray that they stay on track! Good blog!


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