Friday, March 31, 2017

Wildcats or Tigers or Bears? Oh my!

We're roughly a month from Decision Day. And Earbaby is going to visit three more places before coming to terms with being a Kansas State Wildcat, a Tiger from Louisiana State, or a Morgan State Bear. Or, to make it even tougher, another acceptance packet means she could also choose to become a Black Panther from Clark University in Atlanta. Oh my, indeed.

EB went from relaxing after her first, early acceptance to K-State (at least now I know I'm going to college) to bemoaning the fact that she only had the one choice after a couple of rejections from places she actually hadn't planned on going anyway, to anxiety about having more choices after all. She hasn't heard from her first choice, which only recently became her first choice. And she's already soured on it anyway, having read a few negative reviews on the facilities at this "prestigious" HBCU. Not to say she won't reconsider it should she wake up to a yay instead of the expected nay tomorrow. The school was put into her head by a casual acquaintance who said she looked like she would be a good fit. She started to fixate on it, then became depressed when she hadn't heard from them, even though she was told they make their decisions on April 1. No matter. Our trip is booked, and should she get in, it's an easy detour.

In the meantime, she's taking note of who is wooing her, and how much. K-State has already offered her money. She will have to lobby to get anything from the other three candidates. She vacillates between wanting to get out of her comfort zone of city folks and ways and visit the country mice for four years, and worrying that she will be bored within a month in the country/college town and would find a southern city more to her liking. It's a tough choice, and no matter how many times I've told her that she doesn't have to stay a full four years to a place she doesn't like, she thinks transferring would mean she's wasted time and money. And she will have made bonds and established friendships that freshman year.

I don't know how to help her. She has been heavily wooed by my alma mater, which is also the farthest away. The closest one, in Baltimore, is still a nine-hour drive, and we are planning a day trip to check out their campus and see what they have to offer. I'm listening to her weigh pros and cons of each of these schools, but I know her decision will ultimately be her own. Still, she knows some of it will come down to dollars and cents. Most of the school tuitions are $40,000 a year. While it is doable, it wouldn't leave her much money for grad school, should she find herself needing even higher education. And that doesn't count unforeseen expenses or trips home for the holidays.

I am proud that she has decided to take her teachers' advice and continue to buckle down on schoolwork. All college acceptances are provisional. I told her the horror story a close friend shared with me of her nephew who slacked off after getting accepted, didn't graduate because of it, and found himself without a college to go to. The teachers have told these kids that they must continue to work for the rest of their shortened senior year. Senior-itis is a thing, but it's not a good thing.

EB's dad and I are also going through an adjustment period. We're readying ourselves for the empty nest. With my return to the workforce (nights again, no less), it will be interesting to see how we navigate the ships passing in the night routine we had for most of our marriage. Luckily my nights aren't as late, and I can work from home a few nights a week. But what worked for us because of childcare may play differently when there is no longer a child in the house. He's already getting nostalgic and a little melancholy. I don't know what I am.

When I left my job in 2015, the hardest part was the loss of identity. I had been in newspapers in one form or another since I was 15. Who was I if I couldn't say what I did for a living? When I got another job after a year off, it was like returning to myself. I was a person again, I did something with myself.

But now I'm losing another identity. Yes, I will always be a mother, but now I'm a parent to an adult (well, legally, anyway). When she goes away, my day-to-day work is over. I will go days without talking to her, months without seeing her. She will be making her own decisions. And the first one has to be just where she will continue to grow and learn. Take a deep breath Earbaby, it's almost time to hit the yellow brick road.

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