Oh, my daughter. She drives me crazy. I’ve said it before, “How dare she behave like the woman I’ve raised her to be? Independent, strong willed, determined? AUGH!” But I could not be more proud of her, because she is EXACTLY the woman I raised her to be. Oddly enough, it’s not because of me, but in spite of me, which makes me even more proud.
Aubrey was never one to follow the beat of the different drummer. No, Aubrey beat her own drum. I spent her lifetime trying to fit my round peg into the world’s square hole, and she fought me every step of the way. So maybe I did do something right?
I expected her to follow a traditional path, one that I didn’t get a chance to follow. I sent her to one of the best women’s colleges. I supported every decision she’s made, even if I stood on the sidelines saying, “Are you really sure this is what you want to do?” I am her biggest cheerleader, especially if she’s losing, although she rarely loses. When she came home from college after just one semester, I lobbied for her to go to a local college. She refused.
Instead, she got a job as an aerial acrobat and hostess at a Brazilian steak house. She’s been there over three years now. Her manager just offered her a position as the event manager and now they are waiting for all the paperwork stuff to go through. She is the best at what she does, but I’ve never doubted that. No matter what Aubrey’s done, she was the best at doing it.
Now she’s also an entrepreneur; I taught her how to dye yarn because I had hopes of running a business with my friend. When that turned into a social disaster (NEVER go into business with a “friend”), Aubrey took over. She created a true business entity. While I dye as a hobby, a few skeins here and there, she runs everything behind the scenes and dyes at night after getting off work. She also cakes, skeins, markets, and mails…then she passes out and does it all over again the next day.
Recently, I was in Boston and saw a sweatshirt for Boston College, where I was accepted but didn’t attend. I thought about getting a shirt, but realized every single time I wore it, it would just make me angry and resentful. The entire time I walked around Boston and Cambridge, all I could think of was, “This was supposed to be me. This was supposed to be my life.” Then I reminded myself that if I’d gone to Boston, I wouldn’t have Matt and Aubrey, and I would not trade them for the world.
I’ve always worried that at some point, Aubrey would regret not going to college and would blame me for not being supportive enough. But being in Boston made me realize that no, she can’t blame me. I’ve always supported her no matter what she’s chosen. College is not her chosen life path, and finally, I’m okay with that. I’m okay with it because SHE is okay with it. And THAT is my job as a parent. Not to create the mold to shape her into what I want her to be, but to hold the mold she creates for herself.
Really, that’s all any child needs. They don’t need us to tell them what to do, they need us to support them in what they want to do. It’s funny that other people complain that their child is an artist but they want them to be a manager. My daughter is a manager and I complained she wasn’t using her artistic talent. But she found a way. Now she’s a manager and an artist.
I spent years crying behind the scenes, certain she was ruining her life by not doing what I told her to do. Now, I am full of pride that she fought me for what she wanted. So while all my friends’ kids are graduating and going on to entry level jobs with assloads of debt, Aubrey has assloads of money in the bank, her own business, and a successful first career. She has no intention of staying in food service forever, but she’s learning skills that will translate well to anything she wants to pursue. And yes, it’s a lot harder to succeed in today’s world without a college degree, but I’m not worried. She’s still got a lot of fight left.