Sunday, August 21, 2016

My Three and Six Year Plans

A couple of months ago it really hit me. My daughter is leaving our house in three years. Tomorrow she starts her sophomore year of high school and that only leaves us three years. Three years is nothing!

This means that I have six years left with my son and provided they both go out of state, or at least out of the city, I will be alone. I will be an empty nester!

A few days after that realization hit me I wanted to do something after work and I asked my daughter if she wanted to order pizza for dinner.

“I can do that?” she asked surprised.

“Sure,” I said, “Just go online to either the Dominoes or the Pizza Hut websites and see who has the better deal. Use your credit card and order it for delivery.”

After texting me a couple of times she managed to get it all done and to figure out the tip. I was at a happy hour with co-workers and I told them what was going on. They praised me for raising a good girl that would check in with me first before making a final decision on the purchase. But I was also reminded that at fifteen it was time for her to learn some of these life skills.

I am at a point in my life where I need to make a three year plan and a six year plan. The three year plan is about making sure my daughter knows all the things that she needs to know before going off to college. This includes driving, self-defense, how to manage a checking account, grocery shopping, to name a few things. It also includes all the things we have to do to get her into college, like researching scholarships and applying for those that are a fit. Of course the most important thing, keeping her on track between lacrosse and her academics to make sure she does excel in school, on her SAT and then applying to colleges.

The six year plan is a plan that includes both my son and I. First and foremost we have to get him through the dreadful years of middle school. He has to do well in 7th grade because those are the grades that will be considered in his high school applications. We need to find high schools that are a good fit for him and we need to apply to those. I live in the City in the Houston Independent School District so Magnet schools are the only way to go. Thank goodness those applications will be happening a year before my daughter’s college applications.

On top of all that, he’s interested in joining some sports teams while he’s in middle school, like football and cross country. I want to encourage his interest in pursuing sports because I feel that they will keep him focused and busy.

Once the girl is in college I start all over again with the boy on the life skills that he will need to know for college three years later. Of course he will have the advantage of watching his sister prepare and will hopefully learn some of those too along the way.

I have to have a six year plan for myself. I can’t lose sight of me because it’s very easy to do that when you are in the thick of high school and college applications with your kids. Between lacrosse games, football games, track meets, school programs, and dances, I’m sure I will lose sight of myself if I don’t keep that in mind.

So how do I do that as a mom? That’s part of what I need to figure out when I’m making this six year plan. My plan has to include my personal and professional goals and what I want to accomplish at this time in my life. Where do I want to be in six years once they are gone? What do I want for myself?

Most people think that it’s only new moms who need to work on not losing themselves. I think that it can be just as hard for a mom with teenage children because of the amount of activities involved in their daily lives.

On the plus side, teenagers don’t need me as much as a baby did. Teenagers can order pizza for dinner and they are caught up in their own social lives and activities. I don’t have to watch them 24/7 like I did when they were little but I do have to be aware of what they are doing. Teenagers are okay if I leave them alone, together, for a couple of hours in the evening to go have dinner or drinks with a friend. However teenagers will keep me busy when they have something going on.

So just like when they were babies I have to follow the same advice on some things. I can’t forget to take time out for myself. I need to go to book readings or to listen to lectures. As a single mom I have the advantage of having weekends alone when they are with their dad. I need to have dinner and drinks with friends.

I need to make a new vision board of all the things I want to accomplish in the next six years. Because six years are going to fly by and before I know it they’ll both be gone and I’ll be all alone in the nest.
I know that as a mother my life will truly never be the same as it was before I was one. I know that when they are in college I'll worry about them and how they are doing, but it will be a new-found freedom in so many ways.
One of my friends who has five years left with her girls has said that she's letting her company know that in five years she'll be ready for any expat assignments. I've been thinking something along the same lines. In six years I may be open to taking a job assignment in another city, either with Hearst or another newspaper in another part of the country. There are so many possibilities, so many options in six years. I feel like the world is going to be my oyster again for the last half of my life and that is a good feeling.

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