Christmas family pic
10 year HS reunion with Lori Apgar, John Paul Parks, Marcus Nalepa, myself, and Theresa
If you were on this trip, you’ll want this picture!
April of 1989 in HS (right) and college graduation – compare to her daughter’s graduation above
Two trophies – I wish I’d made time to see Theresa and the varsity women’s volleyball team play
Here’s the audio. Sorry for the slow start. Just cut and paste this into your browser to play:
Here’s a transcript for those of you who love to read: RE8f889084720f0f2673fa4536b5c0d651
Theresa Cernosek (now Theresa Varnado) was never the attention seeking type. That much hasn’t changed. According to the friends in the Dickinson area with whom I’ve personally kept in touch, Theresa has been MIA since heading off to Southwest Texas State. You can hear us going back and forth on it starting about 2:15. She would have made my list, regardless. That she had seemingly disappeared just made how her life has turned out even more intriguing.
- Only in the past few months did I realize Theresa was even on social media. If you go out on Facebook, you can find her under her married name. Her social media presence is low key; she maintains just 50-60 FB connections.
- In high school, she was beautiful, smart, athletic, and sang in the choir, yet was still somehow hard to find. I was curious. When I walked into health class our senior year, I saw Theresa sitting there. I all but pushed a classmate half my size out of the way (kind of like a box out in basketball) to sit next to her. I then preceded to chat her up for the entire semester.
- The best part? I liked Theresa even more than I expected. You couldn’t help but respect her. She was inherently different from the other girls I’d known growing up. Though she liked to laugh, Theresa was mostly serious and didn’t suffer fools particularly well. She wasn’t just coasting along – she was making an effort and had high expectations for herself and I suspected others. You’ll hear me refer to her on the audio as a “perfectionist”. Theresa refers to herself as a “people pleaser”. To use her words from our interview, she was a classic “high achiever”.
- Last point on high school-era Theresa…It’s kind of funny, but I still remember the name of her boyfriend senior year who went to LaPorte and played soccer. I was torn…I despised the LaPorte soccer team, but couldn’t help liking the guy. It did seem a little unfair that she dated outside of DHS circles but was likely a good predictor that she was ready to move on and never look back.
- Several aspects of Theresa’s adult life were surprising. For example, Theresa is the first person I’ve interviewed who stayed home to raise her kids. That decision caught me by off guard. As she acknowledges herself, she just seemed destined for a high responsibility career.
- Theresa had laid the groundwork for a satisfying career when her eldest daughter was born. She talked about dropping her infant daughter off for a week before she made the decision to stay home. If you listen to the audio, you can hear a defiant ring of emotion in her voice about that decision some 18 years later (her eldest daughter just graduated). That’s moment in the call is what I’ve thought about most since she and I got off the call. Staying home to raise her two daughters is clearly one of the key turning points of Theresa’s adult life.
- Here’s something that didn’t surprise me. Theresa’s never at home and her kids are deeply immersed in their favorite activites.
- Here’s my favorite lines from the interview around min. 25:25, where Theresa is talking about parenting: “It’s been really difficult, even with just two kids. I don’t even know where to start. It’s been great. I wouldn’t give it up. But it’s been challenging.” That’s got to be as good a description of raising children as I’ve heard.
- For someone like Theresa, the corporate world is a great environment to find tasks, projects, missions, and promotions to feed her need to achieve. It’s not nearly as messy as child raising. I don’t think she has any regrets, but you have to respect the sacrifice she made for her kids, in that sense.
- That was not the big takeaway, however. The real theme of our conversation is the journey of personal growth she’s experienced as a parent. Perfectionism and children can make for a tough mix.
- The hardest lesson for me as a parent is that, though your child is of you, they are not necessarily like you. Time and again, Camden has disabused me of any notion that he was anyone other than just…himself. As I listened to Theresa talk about her daughters, I couldn’t help but think that she had met with many of the same lessons.
- She starts talking about her eldest daughter first around min. 5:30, then again around 25:30. Theresa’s eldest daughter just graduated from the performing arts high school in San Antonio and is headed to UNT to study music. This kid has been doing musical theater since she was eight! I think of the younger, always in control Theresa, then I think of the people I’ve known who’ve really excelled in the performing arts. There’s a book or TV show in there somewhere, with that premise.
- Right after the segment about her older daughter, Theresa begins talking about the younger sister. Successful gymnast. Olympic aspirations. So good that Theresa homeschooled her for four years so that her athletic schedule could be accommodated. You can listen to Theresa talk about the injuries that derailed gymnastics. Her daughter has since transitioned to dance. Now, her youngest is enrolled at the same performing arts HS for her freshman year from which her oldest just graduated. She’ll be training with dance professionals for two classes a day.
- Theresa has two daughters. One attended and one will be attending the “Fame” high school in San Antonio. How exactly did this happen, you might ask? Theresa takes no credit (I’ve heard Theresa sing – she’s much better than she gives herself credit for), but says her husband plays the guitar and encourages his daughter’s artistic impulses.
- Theresa has spent the past seven years in San Antonio. She confessed that the moving away from her family and her husband’s family has been difficult. She also described it as liberating and a step along her personal growth journey.
- Somewhere around min. 10:45, Theresa spends some time talking about herself. She’s now asking what is it that she wants to do and balancing that with the needs of others, after a lifetime of trying to make everybody else happy, especially her parents.
- As I’m reading through the transcript of our conversation and thinking back on our conversation, what I felt toward Theresa in HS is the same way I feel toward her now after reconnecting at 46 – I still really like and respect her. I really enjoyed her openness and honesty as an adult. I remember her as more guarded in HS. We have to get her to a reunion!
- Her next gig? Teaching yoga. Never would have guessed it. Then again, sounds like 18 years of dedicated parenting has been nothing if not flexibility training.