My oldest is 14, and we've been talking about life goals for about a year now. We agree about the most important essentials-- living the gospel, marriage, children--but there we diverge. With absolutely no encouragement from me, she's been determined to go to BYU.
I graduated from BYU. It helped me develop in many good ways and I found friends there that are still friends 2+ decades later. But it is a huge school. It is so easy to get lost--to be just another face with a student ID. I got lost there. It wasn't a terrible sort of getting lost--I didn't lose my morals or standards or testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ (those were strengthened!)--but I did get lost in the system.
I'm still finding my way.
For this reason I've been encouraging my girl to stay away from BYU. I've encouraged BYU Idaho and local schools. I've encouraged going off to live with extended family in another state and I've encouraged looking at alternative schools. I've encouraged delaying college in favor of work or travel. I've encouraged trade schools and home study and apprenticeships.
But she's been determined.
So we've looked at admissions guidelines. We've mapped out a plan. We've purchased educational supplies. They're her goals, and they're laudable goals, even if they are goals I'd rather she didn't make.
I think she will lose herself in the process.
Something essential in her being will be crushed as she tries to make herself fit the mold she thinks she must.
I take heart in the fact that she is still only 14, and I remember that one experienced mother of young adults (I'm sorry but I do not remember who she is, but I'll happily give her credit if anyone else does) wrote that children change as much from 14 to 18 as they do from birth to age 4. That's a great deal of change! That gives me two hopes: 1. That my girl will grow into her goal and be ready to take on that giant school and thrive there, or 2. That my girl will get to know herself and love her uniqueness and grow comfortable with finding her own path in the world.
Yesterday my girl showed me just how right that mother is; my girl showed me that I need to trust her to know herself.
We were making dinner together (just hoagie sandwiches and potato salad) when she said, "Mom, I think I might not want to go far away to college. If I go all the way to BYU then [H4] and [I2] won't really know me as their sister. I don't want to live at home, but I think I want to go to a school that's close enough for me to be their sister."
In my heart the windows of heaven opened up! I'd never have imagined such a thought from my I-can't-wait-to-grow-up-and-get-away-from-this-place eldest child. But it came to her--on her own! And I can honestly say that she showed more maturity in her thinking than I have in mine because I've always considered it a given that the oldest and youngest siblings in a family are necessarily divided by age and circumstance.
I praised E14 for her wisdom and listened as she explained what she thought might be good new goals for herself. I promised to help her do some research. I tried to leave the conversational door open that we might keep talking and planning.
I'm proud of my girl.
I'm so grateful to be her mom.
I'm awed to watch her grow up.