The Road Less Traveled

My sweetheart, my smart, kind, sanguine, handsome firstborn son, Ethan Conrad, graduated from high school in May, and *gasp* DID NOT GO TO COLLEGE.

I had very mixed feelings about this, at the time.  I loved college.  I loved school!  I found out who I was during those four years and made a lot of decisions by myself, both good and bad, and grew up a lot, too.  And I wanted that same thing for my boy.

But that was not what he wanted.

Ethan decided (probably several years ago) that he didn't love school.  He was good at it, he had all the cords and honors at graduation, but like his Dad, the whole academia thing didn't feed his soul the way it did mine.  He made the decision to go to work for our family business, AAA Electric, here in Amarillo.  He will enroll in the four year apprenticeship school and become a Journeyman Electrician, and will be making a really great living when he graduates.  While he's doing that, he will work forty hours a week, most of those out of town, much to his mother's dismay.  

He is doing great.  Unlike most of his counterparts, he pays us rent.  He pays for his phone and his car and insurance.  He does his own laundry.  He wants to get his own apartment, like last week.  I think the only thing keeping him from it is his mother getting weepy at the thought of all her ducks not being under the same roof.  He is self-sufficient, and making good decisions.  (And honestly, he was my kid that could have done all of this at eight years old; I constantly had to remind him that God didn't drop him off on a street corner with no parents, God gave him to us for a reason.)

I'm not having a problem with Ethan's decisions.  I'm having a problem with other people's reactions to Ethan's decisions.  When it comes to me and the way I live my life, I haven't cared what people thought for a good long while.  But when it comes to our kids, we mommas are sensitive.  And the facial expressions and reactions that I've sat through when I tell people Ethan's not in college are heartbreaking.  I've heard, 

"He didn't make the grades?"  No, he did.

"No money in the budget?" No, we have a fund.

"Didn't get his applications in on time?"  No, he filled them out and got accepted.

Ethan said it best.  He told me, "Momma, I know what I want to do.  Why do I need to go sit in classes that I have no interest in and waste four years of your and Dad's money when I can start now?"

How do you argue with that logic?  It's not like Nolan's BFA in Theatre Arts helped him to be an electrician and run a business.  He learned it from his Dad.  Nolan spent four years in the Apprenticeship school, but he started when he was 27. After college, after he spent a few years working for other people, before he started dating me.  It was super fun having a babies and having Nolan out of town working or in school once a week, let me tell you.  So hopefully, by the time Ethan wants to get married and start a family, all of the hard stuff will be out of the way.

And college will always be there.  If he wants to go, we have the funds to send him.  But even if he decides it's never for him, I'm okay with it.  I'll go back and get my Masters degree.  Or put in a pool.  Or a home gym.  Or get some plastic surgery, maybe.  *wink wink*

What I'm not interested in is the judgement of others regarding his decision.  The skilled trades need more kiddos like Ethan who want to learn a trade and make a living.  Because y'all, we will always need electricians and carpenters and plumbers and welders and pipe fitters.  And you want smart folks in those jobs.  And I'm proud that my husband and my kiddo are some of them.

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