"I don't like school, I'm too CREATIVE for regular college, I'm just going to go to culinary school; it's only 1 year and no boring stuff."
"Now that culinary school is over, I decided to just enroll in a class or two at the community college because I feel like I'm a little young to stop learning. I'm just gonna take classes that I find interesting though, I'm not actually like, going to college, cuz I'm not gonna do an actual degree program or anything."
"So it turns out I just need a few more classes to qualify for an associates' degree. I think I'm gonna go ahead and take them. Why not, you know? But I doubt I'll ever go for a whole bachelor's degree, I don't need it."
"I think I want to change careers. That associate's degree automatically qualifies me to enroll in any state college. I'm going to enroll at TWU and get a psych education so I can become a counselor. I have to do grad school for that, not sure I'll make it that far, my grades have never been good enough for scholarships or anything..."
Yesterday, I walked the stage to receive my Masters of Arts in Biblical Counseling from Dallas Theological Seminary. So much of my life, whenever I declare something about my future, my mom looks at me with this very specific, infuriating, all-knowing expression on her face of pure skepticism and exaggerated placating and says "We'll see...".
I got my husband to catch that very look on camera yesterday when I told her I am DONE with school FOREVER! and I am NEVER GOING BACK!!!! So I could share it here:
I've learned to joke that I have to be careful what I say to her because every time she pops out with her "We'll see..." she makes a liar out of me.
The magic of the "We'll see..." is as much in what it isn't as in what it is.
What it isn't is an argumentative weight of expectation and pressure wrapped in a package of encouragement, responding to my rash declarations with "don't be silly, of course you will! You're brilliant, and _________ is the only way for you to be successful!"
"We'll see..." is not discrediting my own control over my future or my choices or my freedom to be correct, to stop right here and head down the path I say I intend to choose. It's not undermining my autonomy.
What it also isn't is discouraging pessimism or criticism for either my lack of potential or my lack of ambition. My mom never hears my fears or my self-limitation and reacts with a knee-jerk band-aid of complements, nor salt-in-the-wound of criticism. She is a cornerstone of balance between realism and healthy, genuine belief in her children's capabilities.
What "We'll see..." has always meant to me is "I trust you and I will not tell you what you should do, but I believe you can go further than you say you will if you choose to. If you never change your path, I will support you and be proud of you, but if you do I believe you can succeed."
It's a subtle suggestion that perhaps I can do more than I think I can; perhaps it wouldn't hurt to try it anyway; and that even if I fail, I won't disappoint her.
My parents play different roles in my life (obviously) but if I were a car, my dad would be the suspension and the body; holding me up when I am discouraged and heavy laden, and protecting me. My mom has always been the wheels and the fuel. She has equipped me with her "We'll see..." approach to parenting with the tools to move forward. She has found an impossible balance of encouraging me through truth. She doesn't flood me with nice, sweeping complements about how brilliant her baby is, she just actually, openly, believes I can, and I know she's a smart lady, so I think maybe she knows something I don't know and I start to believe I can, too.
But the beauty of "We'll see..." most of all is that it has always told me that my mom believes both that I can and also that I don't have to. Whether I do or I don't has no bearing on her love, support, encouragement, or pride.
I hope to some day be a "We'll see..." parent myself, and I wish everyone had the opportunity to be raised by parents with such genuine faith in their kids' capacity that they don't have to pressure them.
So on a weekend when my most hard-fought achievement in my entire life fell the day before Mother's day, I think it only appropriate to say Thank You to the best mom ever, and at the moment I hope your "We'll see..." isn't always prophetic, because I REALLY don't feel up to a doctoral program, and you always make a liar out of me. I love you!