Saturday, January 7, 2012

Mission Accomplished

October 2009, I stood in my living room and the first thought I had after learning my husband had been cheating on me for five years was that if I divorced him I had no ability to the roof over the heads of my eight children, much less put food on the table for them. The second thought I had was that I would NEVER have a thought like that again. Never would I allow financial considerations determine what I did with my marriage.

The harsh reality of that decision was an immediate understanding that I had to give up my dream. My iddyllic life of being a stay at home, homeschooling mother was forever dead to me on that day. Within two weeks, I had begun the process to return to college and complete my Bachelor's degree. Within three months, I was back in the classroom, learning to juggle parenting and being a full-time student.

Twice in this journey I made Dean's List. The other semesters I pulled one B and barely missed Dean's List. I was inducted into the National Honor Society for Criminal Justice and invited to join another Honor Society that I simply didn't have the funds to join. I made friendships. I was encouraged by professors to pursue my education to it's fullest. I grappled with what to do with my future. I wrestled over two competing passions, medicine and sociology. I wrote papers and swabbed the cobwebs off my brain.

When II went back to earning a paycheck this last summer, I faced the clear understanding that someone MUST work now. Someone MUST earn a steady paycheck and provide private health insurance for our children. II is going to medical school. I am fully supportive of that decision. However, that leaves only one other parent to earn that steady paycheck and private health insurance. Yet, I want to continue my education. I want to have a career and not merely a job I opted into for that paycheck.

Fortunately, I had options. In October 2011, I had my RN licensure re-instated. I thought it was impossible to accomplish until I wanted it badly enough that I found a way. I am an RN in my state of original licensure, which is not the state I currently reside in. My current state is not part of the licensure compact that half of the states participate in. I haven't earned a paycheck in nursing since I was married. So, the simple qualification for transferring my license that I have earned a paycheck for 3 months out of the last four years won't work for me. Consequently, I will be entering an RN refresher course this spring.

I will also be taking my GRE finally this spring. I nearly took it this last summer, but again I wasn't ready to want it badly enough at that time. Now, I know my path. I want my future. I'm done mourning the dreams I lost of mothering. I've helped my children transition. When we move for medical school, we will find a GOOD school district. Living in an urban environment was necessary while we were both doing undergraduate work. It was the only way to avoid childcare expenses. In the next part of this journey, we are only considering housing in top notch school districts. That's because come August five of my children will re-enter public school.

E has issues that won't allow her to thrive in public school. On the recommendation of her therapists, we expect she will remain in virtual academies until graduation and entry into college. Her SSI paperwork is prepared and the day after II quits his job, we will be submitting it. We have a lovely caregiver and a funding source to pay her for the 6-18 months we anticipate it will take to get E's SSI approved. After that, E's disability will fund two things. It will fund a caregiver for E when I am working so she can remain in virtual schooling. It will fund whatever therapies her health insurance does not cover. With intensive intervention and therapy, research shows she can and WILL have a productive adulthood. She won't have the life I dreamed for her. However, she is not condemned to be exactly like her maternal grandmother with part of her diagnosis nor her paternal grandfather with the other part of her diagnosis.

C will also not enter public school. The combination of apraxia, dyslexia, Aspbergers and high IQ would kill his spirit in public school. E's caregiver has agreed to let him come for free. He's no bother anyway. The most anyone has to do with him is remind him to work on his reading and writing versus hyperfocusing on his math and sciences and remind him to eat. Except for intentional guiding of his ELA subjects, he'll be unschooled. We removed him from virtual school because they switched to a graded system from the mastery system they used last year. He's making progress on his severe dyslexia. Sometimes he surprises me by reading something I think there's now way he can get. Then, sometimes, he reveals he's totally using context clues and totally wrong. However, we know what it is now. He doesn't have to feel ashamed or embarrassed or stupid. We just keep plugging at the things that work for correcting it. To that end, he'll be getting a Kindle by end of spring. We tried an ipod but he doesn't get much without the text in front of him. I looked at ipads but I think this child would simply utilize it for internet usage. I gave a Kindle to a dyslexic friend for Christmas and after watching the world open up for her, I'm convinced this is the adaptive equipment for C at this point as well.

J won't go to public school in the fall for the simple fact that he'll only be 3. He will enter public school when he is kindergarten age, and honestly I still have to decide if I intend to put him in K4 to prepare him. He's still too little to answer that question. Right now, I'm just going to enjoy the last vestiges of his babyhood I have left. He was eight months old when I unearthed his father's horrible secret. I lost a LOT of his infancy in my grief. I'm not going to allow myself to lose his toddlerhood as well. Most of nine months of my life may be a blur to me, but I distinctly remember that cuddlebug in my arms for a great deal of that blur. He may be a ball of threeness now, but I can still scoop him up to cuddle just about anytime I want. I am so grateful that I had him to hold in my arms while I struggled. I'm not sure I would have survived without his comfort in my arms. (Now to remind him that he must put pants on while sitting on my couch instead of displaying his boyness to me in all it's glory!)

With all of my plans, my dreams, my reflections, yesterday I officially finished the first mission I started. I left my life, my world, my security. There were times when I feared that I ran away from my life, instead of running to a new life. However, I stayed the course. I followed the path, and I held steady to my new dreams. Yesterday, I reached the great reward of this step in the journey.

I recieved a hard cardboard tube in the mail yesterday. It had the official seal of the University on it. Seventeen years ago, I started college as a bright eyed freshman working on a Bachelor's degree in Sociology. Two years later, I switched programs as a burned out young woman simply wanted to be done and move on with my life. I completed an Associates degre in Nursing, a working degree but not a passion at the time. I then got married, had children, adopted medical needs children, and left that world behind me. Two years ago this week, I stepped back into the classrooom to finish what I started all those years ago. Today, I can truly say mission accomplished. I hold a Bachelor's of Arts in Sociology degree.

This spring, I take my GRE. This fall, I apply for a MSN program that I am totally in love with. I should graduate at the same time II finishs medical school. He will attempt to match for a residency somewhere with a PhD program in Sociology, and I will have five years (residency and fellowship) to finish my PhD. I'm done trying to decide one passion over the other. I'm done trying to tell myself they are incompatible when they are not. I can envision a very fulfilling career path with this education. It won't be a very lucrative career path. However, I've never been a very good clock puncher. If I'm going to work, I need to love what I do. I will love what I do when I get done, even if I'm a decade away from completion.

I did it!!! I finished college this week!

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