Parenting is difficult at every stage. There are blogs for almost every stage of parenting children, if your children are following the route of their peers and going to college. I didn’t experience that kind of parenting. I experienced parenting two boys alone, with minimal child support as my only form of support from ages 10 and 14 to 18 and 22. I also experienced two wonderful boys who have become wonderful young men.
These two men are alike and different. One graduated from high school and is seeking careers in the trades, trying to determine which trade is for him. The other did not graduate from high school, still lives with me and still trying to find his footing in this culture of peers who were told college is your only option. Experiencing this route in parenting is very different from any plan I had for either child. I dreamed they would graduate from high school, attend college, and have really cool jobs as grown men. I don’t view this not happening as dream that died. I see this as it was my dream because I am their mother. I see what they have taught me that school isn’t for every person, that college isn’t the route for everyone, that we all need people to go into the trades to support our lives. We all need a plumber more often than an orthopedic surgeon… I hope.
I experienced parenting a child who did not graduate from high school, the loss of friendships because friendships often come from the time spent with your children’s peers’ parents. When my son started to show signs of struggling in school and wanting to quit, those friends started to see me and my son as a poison to their son’s future. This is of course my perception, but at the rate that friends were lost in that group, I could have no other perception. This was a time that I could have really used the continued friendship and support. Having lost these relationships gave me a sense of failure, loneliness, and unclear future. I continued to have friends who were not from these groups and those friendships were so important to me, though, they did not have children and couldn’t relate to my experiences in making decisions as a single mother.
I share this story of my experiences to encourage anyone who may have a child who is on their own path. Keep pushing until you know it is time to stop pushing. I didn’t have a resource or support or even know someone who had been through anything similar. Parenting guilt and shame come with having children. We put it upon ourselves, we put it on others, and we allow people to put it on us. This is harmful. It’s not helpful to carry that shame. There is no shame in a child who chooses a path different than their parents dreamed for them. I hope that my sharing my story will help any one who reads this to know there are others like you, you are not alone. You have people paving the path ahead of you who have felt your struggle and wants to cheer you on as you come up behind me. I want my reader to never feel what I felt in those lonely hours of worry. I am so thankful for my parenting story, that my parenting story continues.