The Crazy Suburban Mom: My kid's not going to college...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My kid's not going to college...

My kid’s not going to college used to be a hard sentence to get out.  My friends we all about where their kids applied, who they'd heard from and where their kids were going. When they asked me I was honest, “My son’s not going to college.”

My son's always had other plans.


  My son is in a luthier apprenticeship.  Don’t feel bad if you don’t know what that means; spell check doesn’t either.  A luthier is someone who makes or repairs stringed instruments; in my son’s case, guitars.  My son has been all about guitars since he was twelve, probably.  I say probably because I’m not sure.

I wasn’t paying attention. I was too busy driving us both crazy and spinning my mommy-wheels trying to get him to do my version of  applying himself.

In fact I was so busy I missed that he already was applying himself.


 While I nagged constantly about school-sponsored clubs and intramural sports – Anything that would look good on a college transcript; he taught himself to play the guitar and happily pursued his dream.

Without me…


I hope my son continues learning, always.  I hope this program renews in him what an education is; engaging, interesting and applicable to his life.

But the real education here was mine.  What is it we say as parents?   I don’t care what you do as long as you’re happy.  There are a million, million versions of that phrase and for how many of them do we add a but and change the whole meaning because we know better?

  I only want you to be happy but a college education is…  Whatever makes you happy makes me happy but there is no future in… I don’t care what you do as long as you’re happy but that job won’t…


At some point it’s time to just let those words stand without the but because that's how they are right. And back when we wanted to be artists, and writers, and ballerinas...and joyful, we knew that.

So, whatever makes you happy, makes me happy.

Rock on, Baby.  Rock on.


Original date of publication November 2009, NJ Moms Blog.  My son completed the apprenticeship in February of 2010 and these are photographs of him at work.


Babes Mami 6/17/10, 2:25 PM  

My mother has never approved of any of my life choices. She also said we had to go to college, that it was the only way but did nothing to push us or help us. She didn't care if we were doing what made us happy or not, she's always been focused on how many dollars something could make you. I think it's great that you have accepted what he wants to do with his life now and support him. That's awesome!!

Aunt Becky 6/17/10, 2:48 PM  

That's pretty awesome. Your son is a cool kid. I'm pretty proud of him too!

Stacie's Madness 6/17/10, 2:57 PM  

ok, i see this is an old publication...nov is he NOW??? WHAT'S HE UP TO?

More Milestones 6/17/10, 3:01 PM  

We have two sons. Our first graduated high school valedictorian at 17. He's been saying he wanted to go to college since he was 5 - no kidding. He saw college football and wanted to know how it was different from pro so we told him. He was all about continuing his education from then on.
our second is now in high school. He has already said college is not for him and DO NOT expect him to be valedictorian.
I believe with all my heart it's NOT the education that makes you successful in life (whatever that means). It's having a passion for something.
Clearly your son has a passion for something. He's off to a great start.

The Crazy Suburban Mom 6/17/10, 3:35 PM  

Babes, I really think if you do what makes you happy success follows. Success is a hard thing to quantify.

Aunt Becky, My kid is so much cooler then me. I only wish I had a tenth his coolatude.

Stacie - He works repairing guitars! He's there now!

More Milestones, I agree with you, so much. I really wish that schools helped kids who were going in other directions - but that's a whole other post!

Janiss 6/17/10, 3:37 PM  

Thanks so much for this reprint! I was a puzzlement to my mother until the day she died. I'm so happy that your son is happily pursuing his dream, and that you GOT it.

The Crazy Suburban Mom 6/17/10, 3:39 PM  

Me to Janiss, me too. My mother didn't get me. Maybe it was her maybe it was me but our relationship was a struggle on both sides... Sometimes its just like that


Bossy Betty 6/17/10, 4:07 PM  

He's found his bliss! Yahoo!!

Vonlipi 6/17/10, 5:48 PM  

being happy in what you do is THE most important thing EVER.

My dad is and always has energy to work 7 days a week 16 hour days; and he's 74!

I learned what being unhappy at work was and it was sooo painful to live. I felt worthless,stupid and FAT (ok I was FAT but I digress).

I now realize all that working for so much less. Money hasn't anything to do with real success, being happy is being successful!

Now can your darling boy custom make guitars for people? Does he have a web site?

Ruth 6/17/10, 6:06 PM  

That's so awesome that you recognized that in him. He's got a job for life now too, whatever else happens in the world we'll always have a need for music and people to make/repair the instruments.

My dad's thing when I was in high school was, once I graduated "get a job, go to school, or get out of my house". Not very supportive if you ask me! Didn't care what I wanted, just do it his way or get out. I ended up going to a two year secretarial school out of sheer panic, hated it the whole time. And was never able to get a job afterward in any sort of office environment, I even had one counselor at a job bank tell me I was basically unemployable. WTF does that mean??? 20 years later I'm still struggling and just barely starting to figure out what I want to do with my life, something I could have done all that time ago with the right support and encouragement. I turned 40 a month ago and in a way I still feel like that panicked teenager not really knowing what to do.

Your son is so lucky to have it all figured out so young. Cute too, I'll bet he's got the girls going crazy over him, huh? ;-)

J Sedai 6/17/10, 7:27 PM  

that's so awesome! also, he looks so cool doing it!

my 4 monsters (um darlings) are still pretty little, and when people ask me how I plan on paying for college for ALL FOUR of them they are horrified to hear that I'm not planning for them all(or any) to go, they can go if they want, and I'll help, but I'll be just as helpful/happy if they want to go to beauty school, become a mechanic, want to figure out how to test video games for a living. I truly just want them to be happy, and successful (not in a monetary sense, but to be able to be self sufficient). People tend to forget, that as much as we want for OUR kids to be the next BIGGEST and GREATEST, the world still needs the little guys to help keep things going, and they are just as important.

* Michael * 6/17/10, 7:52 PM  

Wow, cool kid you have!

Maureen 6/17/10, 7:55 PM  

What more could you ask for? A young man who knows what he wants and goes after it! He gets to get up each day and look forward to going to work instead of saying "Aww today..".

I cannot begin to tell you the number of people (especially this generation) who went to college for 4 years and aren't even working in their specialty. As an added bonus, they have upwards of $50k in tuition debt. How crazy is that???? Good thing they followed mom/dad's dreams for them.

Lynne 6/18/10, 12:38 PM  

It is so rare to have the opportunity to make a living doing something you love to do. Congrats to your son on following his dream!

William K Wallace 6/18/10, 12:41 PM  

To be able to do something that we truly enjoy should be the goal of every person, but most people sell their soul...well done kid, keep on doing your own thing.

Richard @ The Bewildered Brit 6/18/10, 1:41 PM  

This is a really wonderful post. I'm glad your son's finding his way in the world and is able to do something he loves.

Sweet Mummy 6/18/10, 2:38 PM  

That is a very cool thing to be an apprentice at. If I'd known about these kinds of things when I was deciding what to do, I might have chosen something like it, instead of engineering. I appreciate the reminder too, to be more accepting of those things that our kids might be wired for even if we are worried about it not getting them anywhere. You can't beat finding something you like to do, and even if you don't make a million bucks, being happy with your work is priceless.

Anonymous,  6/18/10, 3:07 PM  

The unemployment office is filled with college graduates but how many skilled-trades people are sitting there? From repairing guitars he'll probably go on to making them - music will never go out of style! He's a lucky young man.

Leslie 6/18/10, 4:03 PM  

Good deal! As long as he loves what he does it*ll never be a job for him. He looks pretty comfy doing it lol

Don E. Chute 6/18/10, 4:38 PM  

You have a very talented, cool kid. See even when you think your screwing up as a parent, or your kid is screwing up as well, a kid.

As long as you keep things positive, it all turns our ok,sometimes. Just let them explore their passion.

I as a young adult concentrated on where I thought the 'money' was, not my passion (Journalism). I regret it to this day. Thank God for blogging!

For all who are just in the throws of raising kids...Keep the BUT'S out of it.

Happy Fathers Day!


dddiva 6/18/10, 11:48 PM  

Good for him! And good for you for recognizing that your path was not his - I did a lot of buts too with the girls, but I'm happy to say they are happily pursuing their own things and I couldn't be prouder.

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