State of Flux

So yesterday was right up there with giving birth to your first born, on the anxiety scale. 

A Level results were announced and I drove a very nervous Son, and even more nervous mum, (me) down to Basingstoke to get his results from college. Thankfully his results were ok, better than anticipated given that he’s struggled with depression all year and has only been to college for about 50% of the course.

He passed comfortably. He has grades he can ‘do stuff with’. That’s all good.

The problem is: what stuff?

What should he do now?

He rang through to Clearing to see if he could grab a place at the Universities that had previously offered him a place, but whose entrance requirements he hadn’t quite managed to achieve. Unfortunately they withdrew their offers and no place could be found for him. I guess we could have appealed proffering letters from the college and from the doctor, but we haven’t done so and now it seems any places have all gone.

So what next?

He’s considering options back home and in Australia (where he has rights to study as an NZ citizen) but it’s still all so up in the air.

I know it’s his problem, and not mine, but I also know that this is one of those pivotal points in life. I remember back to my own university entrance results and how the whole direction of my life changed with them, from becoming a nurse to going to university to study English Literature.

Without that change of direction, so much wouldn’t have happened. It’s fair to say I wouldn’t even be writing here on this blog, if I had failed to get into nursing school because I was two months too young.

I know all of this, deep down but somehow knowing it isn’t calming my anxiety for him. It feels as if a hugely monumental thing is happening in his life – this first step into real adult life – and I know I have to stand back and offer support but let him make the decision.

I head know this. My heart begs to disagree.

My heart wants to make the decision for him using all the knowledge I’ve gleaned over three decades of adult life. My heart wants to make it easier for him. And while my head and heart argue I’m useless at everything else, permanently distracted and vaguely irritable. I wish I could cut that emotional umbilical chord but I simply can’t.

I am in a lamentable state of flux.


Image: Flickr CC


'State of Flux' has 12 comments

  1. August 17, 2012 @ 6:34 pm LA Janssen

    Our children may (hopefully) grow older and (hopefully again) more mature, but they never stop being our babies. I’m a firm believer in their making the tough calls and figuring life out, but if they’re at all interested, I’ll share some thoughts. I don’t label them as ‘you really ought to’ or ‘here’s what I’ve learned’; I’ve found it most helpful if I simply mention something as if someone else were saying it. You know, along the lines of ‘lots of people end up working in a field other the one which they studied at uni; I know you’ll weigh your options and come up with what works best for you.’ I’ve learned from my son that the way I approach solving a problem is quite different from how he does, and sometimes sharing my views (no matter how tactfully) just serves to stress him out. You know your son better than he may know himself at times, and helping him think through how he’ll handle the Black Dog should it rear its ugly head again is probably more important than anything else. Sending positive thoughts your way – he’s done better than expected so far despite the odds, good for him.


    • August 18, 2012 @ 12:15 pm vegemitevix

      What a lovely supportive comment, thank you so much. I am trying to let him figure it out for himself, just giving him nudges in the direction of progress and not allowing him to procrastinate and put off making a decision. At this stage he’s thinking a general degree after a period of working. I confess I’m hopeful that if he goes to uni with some of his own money maybe he’ll really knuckle down and work hard. That’s my theory anyway.


  2. August 17, 2012 @ 8:40 pm MidlifeSinglemum

    I know I’ve said this before but in Israel 18 year olds have two (girls), three (boys) or more (dedicated) years of the army to serve before they go to uni. It’s now fashionable to go to a kind of extra-curricular college for a year before entering the army. After the army they want to take some well-earned time to travel and they need to work in order to pay for it. They also need to do the psychometric test for university entrance which involves a three month course of study. So it’s not unusual to start uni at 25 or 26 years old. By this time they usually have some idea of what they want to do. And of course any first degree is valuable as a stepping stone to almost any career.
    I’m saying this again because it wouldn’t be the end of the world if your son decided to take a year to off to work, travel, volunteer, or whatever and use that time to decide what he wants to do. It’s a lot of pressure to have to have it all sorted in the two weeks between results and September 1st.
    Good luck.


    • August 18, 2012 @ 12:18 pm vegemitevix

      This is really interesting, particularly as I’ve always been a ‘go to Uni’ type of girl. Son is very bright and able to manage an excellent degree, but the last year has kicked the stuffing out of him and he is now thinking it might be more worthwhile heading back Down Under to study. There is also the point that paying back £50k student loan is difficult if you’re not earning in Stirling. In NZ money that’s over $100k. Certainly not the kind of money you want to be indebted for a general degree and a few years of social life. At this point he’s looking to work and save some money and go to Uni at the beginning of the new year Down Under. He’ll be 19 in May and I wonder if that will work out far better for him.


      • August 20, 2012 @ 7:11 pm Katriina

        Sounds good to me. Aussie degrees seem to be well-regarded elsewhere. My Aussie law degree cost me literally one tenth of the price of my American colleagues’ Ivy League degrees, and we all got jobs at the same (US) firm in Asia. From what I’ve understood, job prospects for Aussie graduates are pretty good in the UK too, if he does want to return in the future.


        • August 20, 2012 @ 7:15 pm Katriina

          by the way, I finished law as a graduate, several years after abandoning my law studies at undergraduate level. We all find our path in the end, and it takes the time it takes… In the meantime, I worked and got a whole lot more perspective because of that.


          • August 20, 2012 @ 8:39 pm vegemitevix

            I truly believe this. When I was Son’s age I desperately wanted to be a nurse and save the world. Of course when I didn’t get in I was desperately upset and thought my life was over, and yet going to uni and studying the most general degree you ever could study (A BA in English – what do you do with a BA in English?) was a godsend. Of course in our day we could afford to go to uni and then do a year backpacking and still know that there’d be a job for us somewhere when we finished. We didn’t have the same pressures of debt and student loans as they do today. My parents didn’t pay much towards my university education and I had two jobs to get by on. Now, as the parents, we are looking at it costing us about $13k or more per year! It’s just such a different world out there now, which saddens me, because those student days were undoubtedly the best of my life.

        • August 20, 2012 @ 8:35 pm vegemitevix

          I’ve heard that too Katriina. I think it’s a myth that education is better in the northern hemisphere, I wonder if it is simply more expensive.


  3. August 17, 2012 @ 10:14 pm Steve

    So difficult to stand back and let them make their own decisions (not necessarily their own mistakes) but all you can do is offer advice. You can’t make them take it. It’s their first major step to becoming a true adult.


    • August 18, 2012 @ 12:19 pm vegemitevix

      Exactly. Though it is nice that he values our opinion.


  4. August 18, 2012 @ 4:13 am Jen

    I pray for wisdom for him and peace for you

    as hard as it maybe I believe we have to let our children make their own decisions
    its how one learns
    we have to be there to offer support and advice no more

    I had a very over bearing mother whom refused to cut the apron strings
    dont do that to your son
    it ruins the relationship

    just be there to support, advice and love your son
    all the best to your son


    • August 18, 2012 @ 12:20 pm vegemitevix

      Thank you Jen, that’s lovely. No, I don’t believe I’m overbearing as witnessed by the fact that the kids aren’t desperate to leave the household. Maybe I’m too relaxed as they have nothing to rebel against? x


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