To “Re-do” Or Not To “Re-do”

It’s August. It’s hot. It’s time to send the kids back to school.

Yeah, I know, those of you living in more civilized parts of North America are thinking I’m crazy.  But, here in Georgia, school starts in August.  That means it’s time to scurry to the stores and wrestle with the other parents for school supplies.  The stores have loads of them, right there next to the Halloween candy and costumes. 🙂

This year, back to school shopping has taken on a new twist in our house.  Instead of driving to five different stores to find the ‘perfect’ binder for my son, we are seeking out extra-long twin sheets, desk lamps, and a mini-refrigerator.  Yep, my baby is going to college!  Seriously, wasn’t he just in first grade?  I have to go on the record here and say he cares nothing about the sheets or desk lamp.  He is mightily interested in the size of the fridge, however.

By this time next week, my first born will be moving into his campus dorm room three hours away from home.  Now, as any parent of a college student will tell you, your child is supposed to be ornery, defiant, and just downright obnoxious the summer before they leave for college.  According to this unwritten law of nature, this behavior makes their mama’s not miss them so much once they’ve gone.

Yeah, I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Right now, I am feeling a myriad of emotions, but none of them sadness.  Okay, I might feel a twinge of melancholy that the little boy who used to let me dress him in cute clothes has morphed into a smelly, almost-man who won’t wear madras shorts.  But, I also feel a great deal of pride in his accomplishments.  It’s hard to get into college these days!  My son worked diligently (most of the time) to get himself admitted to the school and academic program of his choice.

However, if I’m being honest here, the emotion I’m experiencing most is envy.  I’m jealous of the amazing opportunities he will have these next few years.  I don’t mean the football games, keg parties, and spring break in Florida—although those will definitely be on his radar.  I’m talking about the freedom to figure out who he really is.  The clean slate to create the life he dreams of; the ability to live outside the bubble of his family and develop his own world view.  Several of my friends, whose children are also leaving for college this month, told me they could easily relate, saying they’d like to go back to college for a “re-do”.

Except it’s not really a “re-do” I’m looking for.  The decisions I made while in college weren’t always the right ones, but I learned just as much from my wrong choices as I did from the curriculum.  Besides, the path I chose has been pretty good to me.  I had a wonderful career; I found a great partner to share my life with and, together we have made a wonderful family consisting of our children and a wealth of stead-fast friends that I wouldn’t “re-do” even slightly.

No, I think my envy stems from the whole mid-life thing.  It’s easy for us “forty-somethings” to get caught up in our children’s lives and lose sight of our own.  Then, when they no longer need us for their day-to-day care, it’s natural to fall into the trap of feeling a little jealous of their seemingly stress free lives.

Dreaming of the “re-do”.

But I’m not going to do that.  Instead, I’m going to channel my “college envy” into a passion for beginning my “third career”:  commercial fiction author.  I’m going to take my own clean slate and create something fulfilling for me. Hopefully, when I come out on the other side of my mid-life, both my son and I will have successful careers to celebrate!

Now, if I could get a “re-do” on some of the crazy hairstyles I had in college, that would be nice.  🙂

What about you? Would you re-do portions of your past?

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About Tracy Solheim

Best-selling author of the Out of Bounds series--sexy, contemporary sports romance novels. See what she's up to at www.tracysolheim.com.

Posted on August 5, 2011, in Blog Posts. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Ohhh, wonderful post, Tracy!

    I’ve often told my husband that if I could do it over, I’d wait longer to have a family and travel more. We married at 19 and had our first son at 22. After that, life revolved around family and work. Thank goodness for books. They were my escape, my vacation from life, if you will. 🙂

  2. But, look on the bright side. You’ll still be in your prime to travel after your boys are on their own! Me, I’ll be taking the senior’s cruise. 🙂

  3. Such a great post, Tracy. I have so many friends at the same crossroads you face and it is fascinating to see how each of them handles the situation differently. You are in such a good position for your “second career” because you’ve spent years getting ready for this transition.

    The beauty of college is just as you mentioned, the freedom to discover yourself without any real responsibility binding you to a certain path. While that sounds very enticing, I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. Thanks for making us all rethink those very fun and somewhat fuzzy days 🙂

    • I think I am also a lot more confident about this career path. In college, there was still the great unknown. Now, if I make a mistake, I know it’s okay. Life rolls on and my family will still love me. This career is all about me and my own self-actualization rather than feeding my family and buying junk.

  4. Without sounding ungrateful for the lovely, fulfilling life I have now, there are definately things that I would change. Which means I would have a totally different, but still lovely and fulfilling life in my alternate reality.

    Great post.

  5. Awesome post, Tracy. Very thought provoking. I can relate, sort of. My son just turned 21, and upon graduating with questionable grades, tried local college one year and then decided otherwise. His has been a tough road, and that’s hard to watch. My daughter will be a junior this year, and her middle school straight A’s turned to C’s in high school, so her grand dreams of going away to the school of her choice may be going up in smoke too. It’s so hard to see the fantasy light go out in your children’s eyes. When they begin to realize that real life is right around the corner and just maybe it isn’t going to be the sparkly golden ticket they dreamed it to be. She is my 10-book-a-week reader, with an amazing IQ and a writerly gift, and yet can’t keep track of lessons.

    My redos would be to actually go away to college, to pursue some of the travel and career paths that I thought I’d eventually get to and never did. To start my writing pursuit earlier in life. But then again, everything happens for a reason. A different path wouldn’t have led me to my husband and my children, and the life I have now, and that is something too precious to trade.

    But I think that envy of what lies ahead of our kids is normal. Knowing the big wide world of opportunity that they are just starting in…it just seems like yesterday that I was there…and sometimes I wish for that feeling again. But like you said, Tracy, with our writing careers, we are kind of getting it anyway!

    Great post!

    • It is the most difficult thing as a parent to watch your child struggle at anything. We want everything to come easy for them. All you can do is guide your son through and catch him if he falls. Sometimes it takes a little adversity in life for kids to find their own way. Keep on believing in him, Sharla!

  6. Well, okay, now that you’ve made me cry (I’m sitting here and I can’t even see the bloody keyboard through the tears!) I’ll tell you that watching my 17-year-old son go into his senior year of high school is very traumatic for me. I don’t want him to ever leave at the end of his senior year and yet I’ll let him go with a smile on my face and a breaking heart when he graduates from high school. I’ll miss him so much that the thought of it is killing me. And I remember telling my parents that in my Junior year of college I was going to study at the U. of Madrid and I was not coming back ever and was going to live in Europe forever! And I was very close to my parents. And they let me go with a smile on their faces. How the heck did they do that? And I’m going to have to do the same thing. i have no words…

    • Actually, given the day my son and I are having, it’s not going to be so hard!!! Who knew packing could be so stressful? Seriously, what’s wrong with white t-shirts?! When did they become passe? They weren’t kidding about these kids being ornery before they leave. Seven more days…

  7. Tracey, I might have read this and thought of another type of “re-do” as in what would I do if mine were at that age again or how would I react to my mid-life crisis if I knew twenty years later I’d be talking to my granddaughter on facebook about going to college campuses next year.

    What I did re-do was myself and the dreams that got put on hold until I retired. Three years ago the option of having a modest life-style and being able to write full time was available and I grabbed it. I hope that this year while my granddaughter decides which college she wants to attend I’ll find an agent.

    Yes, and enjoy every moment because they are gone way too soon 🙂

  8. Tracey – I loved reading your blog. You are so very talented. Wishing you and your son lots of luck as you set out on the next leg of your journey.

  9. NOT looking forward to the day my daughter leaves me. Not even close. Thinking of keeping her close to home. “The local junior college isn’t so bad, honey…” 🙂

    While I’m kidding on holding her back, I’m not on wanting her to stay. But she’s 11. Perhaps that will change?

    • I used to say that about my daughter. Then she turned 13. 🙂 She is looking forward to being an “only child”–we’ll see if that sentiment holds up once big brother is gone.

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