It’s been a crazy week for me. Pardon my tardiness for not sending out my weekly newsletter as scheduled.
After visiting family and friends in Cincinnati, OH, I flew to San Jose, CA with my husband and two daughters to attend college orientation.
The one thing I find hard to do is to let go of the mother’s string that flies this little kite that is my oldest daughter. It’s been a game of tug and let loose these past years. When I give too much slack to this little kite, she dives down. I have to pull the string fast to get her up and ride the wind again. But pulling too hard keeps her from flying high, and she spins round and round, so I have to loosen the string, so she rides the wind and flies high again. I realize that I cannot let go of this little kite completely because based on past experiences of flying kites, letting loose of the string altogether would send the kite high up in the air to fly everywhere, but when the wind dies down, it hits the ground hard and breaks. I may still be able to fix it, only if I find it. I’m not taking my chances on her.
Because she is the oldest, she gets the brunt of parenting blunders. Despite the nursing courses I took on child-rearing practices and units in pediatric medicine, nothing could ever prepare me to become the perfect mother. The techniques that apply to other kids do not always apply to her. And what applies to her does not apply to her younger sister. But one thing was certain, when I mother them too much, they didn’t get much of me. Instead, they got a mother with an “s,” but not the plural form of mother, but smother.
Seated among first-time college parents, I felt relieved to see that it was not just me who seemed nervous to let go of their kid, uncertain whether we’ve prepared them enough to be on their own and make the right choices.
In the past, when my husband and I give her permission to attend some social activity, I’d often say, “Enjoy and have fun but don’t make a fool of yourself.” Hearing one college student say, “the one advice my Mom gave me that kept me from losing myself was ‘Don’t bring shame to the family,’” made me heave out a breath. It’s not just me. This is all normal parenting blues and jitters.
But after the two-day orientation of listening to all the talks from the school staff, administrators, professors, directors, mentors, spiritual directors, co-parents, and students, I am assured. My daughter made the perfect choice. We made the right decision. We found her home away from home, a Jesuit school, where she will thrive and not just survive.
I relearned cultures and traditions that had been with my husband and me when we met as Jesuit volunteers. Magis, to be more and do more, to be men and women for others, and one can only succeed in being and doing through constant reflection and introspection— the Examen, another practical Jesuit tradition, because an unexamined life is not worth living.
So I sat not so much as to be enculturated but to be reminded of what I already had, it felt like getting a refresher’s course on life and my life’s purpose.
The message addressed to the Class of 2022 became the message addressed to me. What is my purpose, my mission, my call?
A very practical guideline resurfaced to me during the opening program.
My purpose is the meeting point of what I love doing, what I’m good at, and what the world needs.
These serve as clues to why God created me.
I’m in my late 40s, and people might think it’s quite late in the game for me to be asking these questions. My daughter is blessed to be put in a learning environment where she could find the answers and pursue her call.
But I’d rather find my answer now while I still have half of my life to pursue that answer. I don’t want to become that someone in her deathbed still asking these questions and hoping that the life beyond would give her the opportunity to pursue her mission.
Although I’ve never been educated in a Jesuit school, through strong bonds and affiliations, as a Jesuit volunteer married to someone educated in the Jesuit tradition from kindergarten to college, I have embraced the Jesuit spirituality among other spiritualities in the Catholic tradition. I walked out of that place wearing another Jesuit hat, one that says, “I’m a Broncos Mom.”