If you were to ask me to choose the most challenging aspect of our college-search journey, besides agonizing over financial packages, my short answer would be: watching my kid agonize over EVERYTHING ELSE, including my agonizing over financial packages.
For my middle daughter, now that it's crunch time (applications for merit and presidential scholarships are due December 1st), it's having to submit a personal essay: specifically, introducing herself to the admissions officers, by sharing with them what SHE feels makes her unique.
"But you're a pretty-terrific kid."
Aaaaand, here's where Heather, along with the rest of her siblings, would typically call "BS!!!" and insist that I'm just saying that, because I am her mother, and I'm supposed to say things like that.
"I don't want to sound arrogant!"
I just stood in the middle of the kitchen and stared at her, in mid-pancake flip, because I had a funny feeling that this was going to turn into one of those self-defining moments that, if done incorrectly, could scar your child for life and...YES!!!...I tend to over think stuff, like that, ALL THE DANG TIME.
See what I mean?!? Often times people mistake me for being a "good listener", when I'm probably just too busy trying to figure out stuff and my kids are already pretty good at answering their own questions for me, anyway.
"Because women get called-out for being over-confident quicker than men do."
Here's the thing: raising kids is hard, raising selfless teens is even harder; but raising up girls is dang near impossible, without being slapped in the head with a double-standard or twenty and this parenting thing is hard...YO!
"Can you come read this for me?"
Thankfully, my kids also know that I work well with the assistance of visual aids.
"OMG!!! You're crying, it's THAT bad?!?"
On the contrary, and I'm not just saying that because I am her mother, here's the part that moved me to tears -- shared with Heather's permission:
"Part of what sets me apart from many people I have come to know is my cultural background, or my heritage. Both of my grandparents on my Mother's side escaped from Hungary in 1956 during its oppression by the Soviet Union, leaving behind everything they had known to start a new life in America.
They came with nothing but the clothes on their backs and, in my Grandmother's case, her mother and younger sister. My Grandfather left his family behind in the war-ridden country and came to America with his two closest friends, nothing else.
Each of my Grandparents worked themselves to the bone to create a better life for themselves and their future family, overcoming stereotypes and prejudice to attain the freedom and comfort they could never have back in their homeland.
The pain and suffering that my Grandparents endured throughout their lifetime has kept me grounded, yet full of dreams and aspirations.
If I want to go to another place, maybe even another country, and start anew, I can. If I want to blaze my own trail and leave behind whatever or whoever is holding me back, I can. If I work hard and set my mind to whatever task is at had, I can move mountains. And I will."
Arrogant my butt, I just wish I had an ounce of this kid's confidence at 40-something (let alone, 17 going on 18) and I'm not just saying that because I am her mother, just sayin'.
"But, I don't want to sound obnoxious, either."
Confidence, meet slippery-slope.
"What mom is trying to say is: just do you, Heather!"
Because her oldest sister is also pretty good at interpreting stuff for her mother (that would be me!) like that, too.