My Daughter Doesn’t Care To Go To College — Is That Okay?

iStock_000011763147Small“Mom, I don’t really want to go to college,” my 13-year old daughter mentioned casually over hamburgers one night.

“What?  Why not?” I gasped in horror, then I turned to my equally horrified husband.  We have always had the expectation that both of our kids would go to a university.  In fact, both David and I never expected anything less of ourselves when we were growing up, and David even went on to earn a medical degree post-college.  We are higher education people!

So, where did we go wrong?

“What I really want to do is hair and makeup.  Can’t I just get a license to do that and go on with my career?  Besides, I’m just going to get married and become a mom someday.”

Oh, the humanity…!

To Meg and Josh, I have always been a stay-at-home mom, so maybe they’ve come to believe that as the norm and, perhaps, ideal.  They don’t know my former life as a computer professional for which I earned a degree in Information and Computer Science from University of California at Irvine.  Yes, I used to wear pantyhose and dryclean-only clothes and actually get a salary.  I did the 9-to-5 grind and spent the weekends working on my music, dreaming of one day becoming a full-time musician.

Even after David and I got married and he eventually became a physician, it never dawned on me that I wouldn’t be “earning my keep.”  He was supportive of my desire to ditch the computer work to pursue music full time, and I was in the midst of really trying to make it work when we started to have kids.  I tried to continue touring and working in the biz for a while, but it just became too hard to juggle family and a musician’s life.  It just made more sense for me to stay home as David’s income was much more stable than mine.  So, I became a stay-at-home mom and a part-time musician.

Maybe I complained one too many times that my computer science degree was a complete waste in light of what I do now.  Maybe we stressed the importance of character over grades a little too much.  Or perhaps we lamented too often about the cost of higher education and the burden of student loans.  In any case, somehow our daughter — our beautifully smart, highly intelligent young lady — got the idea that college would not be a necessary part of her life.

Although I wouldn’t describe myself as a feminist, I am grateful for the pioneers who opened the way for me to pursue whatever I wanted, never being held back due to my gender.  I wasn’t limited to becoming a stay-at-home mom, although in the ended I chose to become one.

Then I started to think that maybe Meg has a point.  Part of the freedom now afforded to women is the ability to make choices in life.  And if that choice involves doing something she truly enjoys for a number of years before becoming a wife and mom, maybe it’s not such a bad thing…with or without a college diploma.

I do think that this girl would be wasting her high intellect if she doesn’t go to college.  In fact, the academic world would be missing out on a gem of a student if she chooses a trade school instead of a university.  We tried to persuade her into college for its many benefits — speaking and writing more intelligently, being challenged to think outside the box, learning the smarts to run her own business as a makeup artist or stylist, and generally having the respect from society for getting a college degree — but to no avail.  When we brought up the fun she would have in the dorms with other co-eds, however, she became slightly more interested.

Meg is only in 8th grade, so it’s still quite possible that she would change her mind during the next four years.  Although David and I are starting to feel less inclined to push her towards college if that’s not what she wants to do, this is still a bitter pill for us to swallow.

Anyone else facing a similar situation?

Jetlag and Thoughts on Motherhood

I got the best of both worlds -- mommy by day, rock star by night!

I returned safely from my whirlwind tour of Japan and Indonesia last night to a husband, two kids, and a dog who all were very happy to see me.  There is, truly, nothing like home.  I’ve been up since 4am, though.  It’s always harder to adjust to eastward travel, but it’s as good time as any to catch up on my blogging!

When I first became pregnant with Josh almost 15 years ago, I thought that my life was over.  I was facing 18 years to life, and I knew that I would always have to look after this helpless offspring who, at the time, could do nothing — not even eat and poop — without my assistance.  I had enjoyed a busy career in music, traveling the world and meeting all sorts of interesting people.  Yet, I knew that it was time to kiss my life as I knew it good bye and kiss the cheeks of my newborn baby.

I mourned that death of me at the time, pretty much going into labor kicking and screaming, not wanting to let go of my wonderful life.  I mean, I thought I had it pretty good, and I enjoyed my freedom more than anything.  I did not want to be tied down to domestic life.

For a while after we became parents, I still tried to fight it.  I wasn’t willing to give up my life as I knew it, and I tried hiring nannies and sitters to try to prolong the freedom I had had.  Eventually, though, it became obvious that I was not yielding myself to this new role in life called motherhood.  That’s when I let go.  And then it became wonderful.

In fact, life got even better, much more fulfilling and richer than ever before.  How did I even think that my previous life was so worth holding onto?  Once I dove into motherhood with everything I had, my life became much more…what shall I say? — centered.  To be sure, others may be very well-centered even without having children, but for me, motherhood brought everything into light and my life finally made sense.  Yeah.  Much more centered.

Fast forward 14 years, and I’m finally crawling out of the mommy fog and reentering life again.  Things don’t look exactly the same, and I’m no longer chasing unrealistic dreams and expectations nor running away from demons on my shoulders.  Yes, I had my issues back then.  Anyway, in the past year, it has felt like I’m slowly getting my life back, and it feels good.  In so many ways, my music ministry and career look so much better than ever before.  Ironically, though, I don’t care as much about it; I can honestly take it or leave it.  Boy, is that ever freeing!

As I sang at and taught workshops at this children’s ministries conference in Jakarta with other speakers from Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and other parts of the US, I noticed that many of us have children about the same ages as mine — preteen to young teens — which made me think that perhaps my parenting journey is not all that unique.  For a while — maybe 10, 12 years — we (especially moms) need to let go of our own selves and focus on raising our kids at home.  Ten years used to sound like a very long time for me back then, but now, in perspective, it is just a blink of an eye.  Then, just at the right time according to God’s infinite wisdom, we get back out there and continue with our lives and leave a lasting mark on humanity, both by raising children who are, hopefully, well-adjusted and contributors to society themselves, and also by doing whatever God made us to do here on earth.

So, if you are stuck in the mires of life that is raising young children and you feel like you will never wear dry clean-only clothes and/or high heels again, fear not!  You will get out there again, in due time.  And then you will realize how much more fulfilling life is and that you wouldn’t trade all the sleepless nights and poopy diapers for anything.

No, I wouldn’t trade my life as a mommy for anything.  Would you?

Singing at New Hope Yokohama. Some of the young parents there told me they heard me long time ago when they were kids. Oh boy, I've been at this a long time!