Lifelong Learning After Graduation

Last year at this time, My Favorite Domer was walking across the stage to accept his university diploma.

I was fretting over everything from the weather (which I couldn’t control) to what to wear (which I could). And somehow, the things I worried about faded into the background, Domer graduated, and flew far from my nest, off to the Land-of-the-North.

Where he’s thrived.

Among the things he’s learned (or had reinforced through first-hand experience):

  • How to cook
  • How to wash clothes and iron
  • How to budget finances
  • How to grocery shop
  • How to find his way around town
  • How to do minor home repairs
  • The importance of paying bills on time
  • The necessity of keeping in contact with his college friends
  • The value of work
  • How to get along with co-workers
  • The satisfaction of a job well done
  • And a host of other things

He’s learned not to let attack birds build a nest right outside his front door. And that sometimes the wind will blow even fairly full garbage cans down the street, scattering pizza boxes throughout the neighborhood.

He’s learned that cold — such as this winter’s bitter offering — is a fact of life in the Land-of-the-North. He’s learned to manage his time and get sufficient sleep for the next day. He’s learned that certain things — like finding the right church — make a new place feel less strange and that staying in touch with home isn’t a sign of weakness.

Not to brag or anything, but I couldn’t be more proud.

Like my friend Katybeth, I don’t parent for an audience. Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s hard, demanding work, 24/7/365, and despite one’s best efforts, things don’t always go according to plan.

Kids rebel. Turn to the Dark Side. Or fail to launch.

I’ve been blessed. So has Domer. With gainful employment in the World of Work, he doesn’t have to return home and mark time for what could be years before this economy turns around.

Yes, I could’ve swooped in and micromanaged for him, but look how ignorant he’d still be!

Obviously, if he needs me, I’ll be there. His safety net, so to speak. But in the meantime, we’re both enjoying his progress.

What’s one of the important things you learned on your first job out of school?


20 thoughts on “Lifelong Learning After Graduation

  1. Debbie my friend, I LOVE this post! And love the list of things Domer has learned his first year of being away from home. OMG…I cannot believe it’s been a YEAR already!? I can still remember your post about his graduation and it seems like only a week ago.

    “Not to brag or anything, but I couldn’t be more proud.”

    You should be proud, and there’s nothing wrong with bragging about it.

    You’re a PROUD mother 🙂

    “Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s hard, demanding work, 24/7/365, and despite one’s best efforts, things don’t always go according to plan.”

    As I’ve shared with you in the past, even though I’m not a parent I can still sense what a challenging yet, rewarding vocation it is.

    “’ll be there. His safety net, so to speak. But in the meantime, we’re both enjoying his progress.”

    Exactly. And that to me is excellent parenting, so Domer is blessed to have you as well.

    I think one of the most important things I learned on my first job out of school was that school is nothing like actually being outside in the workforce because I was now out there in world dealing with the public, so I had to learn people skills.

    Grrrrreat post! Have a FAB week!

    • HaHa, you’d have been a great parent, Ron — I, too, have trouble realizing it’s been a whole year since his commencement!!

      Thanks for coming along for this one. I love hearing how many things Domer’s tackled and succeeded at (far more than I did my first year out). I was more like you, learning those people skills — if you can’t get people to tell you stuff, you don’t make much of a reporter!!

      You’re a dear to shower so many compliments my way — thank YOU!!

  2. A year? It’s been a year? Oh, my.

    What you said up above, and that list of accomplishments, reminds me of the great line from the commencement address at UT Austin this year. The fellow who gave the address, Navy Admiral McRaven, was in charge of the killing of Bin Laden. The line? ” “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” If you want to see the entire address, it’s here.

    As for that first job out of school…. umm…. I’m trying to remember which job, and which time out of school! I actually left college for a while to work, and then went back, and then….and then… But the most significant job I had after my social work training was over was at the hospital in Liberia. For one thing, the job I’d been hired for wasn’t there when I got there, and the advice I was given was, “Go find something to do.”

    For someone who’d been in school or highly directed jobs my whole life, that was a revelation. How to you decide what to do when you don’t have a clue what needs to be done? It was very, very interesting.

    I’m just so proud of you and Domer both. That mix of things he’s learning will stand him in good stead the rest of his life. He’s not just learning how to earn a living, he’s learning how to be an adult.

    • We’d like to think college educates our young people. And it does — to a point. But the real life lessons, the ones needed to succeed as an adult, are the ones they can only acquire when they’re on their own and “forced” to adapt. Helicopter parents, in my opinion, think they’re helping, when what they’re really doing is delaying the maturation process. But that’s another post!

      Thanks for the link, Linda. It was an excellent speech, though I’d be surprised if many remember the lessons he gave any more than I remember my commencement speakers!

      “Go find something to do.” Outstanding advice that more of us need, at least occasionally. We go from a fairly regimented educational experience to the freedom of the working world. And while that, too, can be regimented, it’s a different ballgame entirely — and we’ll be there lots longer than we were in school!

  3. You have every right to be proud AND to brag! You’ve done a great job as a parent and Domer has done a great job as your kid. So happy to hear that things are going well in his world.

    • Thanks, Terri — those are high words of praise from a conscientious, tender-hearted mom!! You know how hard parenting can be. We’re both blessed to have kids turn out as well as they are.

  4. Thanks for the mention 😀 Gosh, I’m so proud of Domer and I’ve never even met him. He has come a long way in a year and done it beautifully. I remember that first year away from home on my own as very hard. Especially when I got the flu and had to deal with it on my own. I was also very homesick. I guess what I learned was to just keep putting one foot in front of the other until it finally got easier and I made a few friends.
    Launching Cole in a few weeks and once again I’m just putting one foot in front of the other until we get to the other side of graduation. Right now we are both very tired. Lots of end of the year drama and we don’t do drama well. Fortunately we are on the same side.
    I’d like to add to your list that Domer also learned there will never be anyone like your Mama when you need someone to swoop in and take a golf club to a home of pesky birds..
    You did a beautiful job parenting and you did it your way!

    • Your compliments are making me blush — you’ve done such an outstanding job with Cole, and I know his launch will be memorable. No one gives us instructions on how this is done. Every kid, every parent, every situation is different, and we kind of go by intuition — love what you said about you and Cole being on the same side. That, in itself, will stand you in good stead! I think Domer’s always known I was his biggest cheerleader!!

      Thanks for reading. When I realized that yesterday was commencement at Notre Dame, I started thinking about how far Domer has come since that day a year ago, and I was blown away. “Education” isn’t just for the hallowed halls of academia, is it?!.

    • Domer isn’t too far from where you are, Kim — the Land of the North. It gives me comfort knowing that! Bless you for coming along and catching up with my “baby.”

  5. This is awesome! You should be proud. I’ve been worrying about teen years and beyond after recent issues with my cousin (he’s 25). The drugs, jail and several other things that I couldn’t possibly explain in a comment have made me very aware of how things can go terribly wrong. I needed to read this to balance my fears. It is nice to see an account of how they can grow up and walk down the ‘right’ path.

    • Ah, Janna, parenting is much like walking in a mine-field. One never knows where the mis-steps might lie, so one can only be watchful and vigilant, keeping them away from “bad situations,” knowing who their friends are, and wearing out one’s knees in prayer!!

      I’m sorry about your cousin. Trust me, every family has one! I’m fortunate that Domer didn’t fight me too much on the rules I set forth, didn’t sneak around, and learned from an early age that one can toe the straight and narrow without being a goody two-shoes!! Hang in there, mom!

  6. Seems to me you live somewhere in Illinois, correct? If so, then what could possibly be colder than that? Which means either your favorite Domer moved to Canada or Alaska. Yikes. My daughter moved to Chicago and this had to have been the coldest winter on record. Why just this weekend she and I were talking and she said it was barely 50 degrees there, while it was 91 here. Anyway, how proud you must be of him to have learned such great life skills.

    • Illinois is cold, but there are plenty of states where winter is harsher! The entire northern tier of the Upper Midwest, for example. It’s hard hearing y’all had 91 degrees already, but I guess that’s fuel for the wildfires, huh?

      But yes, he’s done amazingly well thus far. There’s no way college — or even parents — can teach them everything they need to know. Some things they’ve just got to experience for themselves. He’s never had to empty a mousetrap like I did on my second job, ha!

    • You’re so right, Suzi. I have to pinch myself to realize it’s been a year already! We’re both grateful he’s gainfully employed (so many, sadly, aren’t).

    • I guess the good thing is, winter doesn’t last forever. And honestly, it could be so much worse! It’s funny, though, that so much of our education doesn’t come from book learning. But Domer is really good about using the Internet to find what he needs, whether it’s a recipe or how to do something!

  7. You are a wise and loving mother, Deb – and I’m not surprised that he is faring so well. Kids can do so much when they know there’s someone who loves them too! So happy for you. My first job? It was at McDonalds at 16. I learned you can only eat so many French fries.

    • I understand McDonald’s has (or at least, used to have) a wonderful training program, Barb. I’m sure that outweighed the temptation for snacking on the fries, ha!

      Thanks for the lovely compliment. You’re right — kids do better when they know somebody is in their court, and Domer definitely knows that!

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