“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask, ‘What if I fall?’
Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?”
If you are like me, you may have spent part of your weekend at a graduation ceremony. If we were having coffee I would have handed you a to-go cup and tell you all about it while driving to the weekend festivities.
My youngest daughter, LAM (initials), graduated from her university early Saturday morning. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation Therapy. She will start her fall internship at an Oregon hospital as a recreation therapist working with patients who have psychological problems. Read more about this profession here.
What I have just described is the end (and beginning) of a long, circuitous route for LAM. Her first job in high school was as a lifeguard working indirectly for me (poor thing). Even with several years in aquatics working with children, teens, and adults, she wanted to pursue a college degree in physical therapy or nutrition science. Both noble professions.
She was lucky to play collegiate volleyball for two years, earning her AA degree at a community college. But that is where the road took the turn. Once she started at a four-year university her focus changed. Sadly she did not continue, but left school and moved to San Diego.
If we were having coffee, this is where I would tell you how frustrating it was as her mom to feel so helpless. We want to help our kids and smooth the way for them, but this was not going to happen.
Although LAM was surrounded by other family members in San Diego, she became depressed and out of sorts. 15 months later she came back home. Within one month of being home, she and her car were involved in a rear-end collision. Adding to the stress was a mild injury and me having to find her another vehicle. (I sold her mine, and bought me a new one).
Moving back home was the balm LAM needed to get back on her feet. But, watching her best friends graduating, buying homes and getting jobs, was not helping her self-esteem or depression. She needed a fresh start.
Like other times before when I gave her some advice (although she was stubborn about taking it), we discussed the Recreation and Parks major (where I got my two degrees), with the concentration in Recreation Therapy. She already had some exposure to this working as a lifeguard, where she helped people of all ages with disabilities in the aquatics setting.
Like the proverbial Phoenix, rising up out of the ashes, albeit, one feather at a time, she started down a new and refocused path. This road included going back to community college, taking classes and holding a higher grade point average so she could be reinstated to her university.
Only 12% of students who end up on academic expulsion return to graduate.
If we were having coffee, this is where I would pause to take a deep breath so I don’t cry. The road led her to this moment, when she walked across the stage yesterday, then, ceremoniously, turned her mortarboard tassel to the left. I lost it when she tossed the mortarboard into the air symbolically releasing the Phoenix!
Yes, my darling daughter, you certainly did fly!
Update three years later, LAM (Lauren) has worked successfully as a Recreation Therapist in the California State Department of Psychiatric hospitals and is currently back in San Diego with the Department of Corrections working in a State prison.
She is still flying!