Sunday, August 24, 2014

Good bye life

Five years ago, I re-entered the world to fight tooth and nail to be a full human again. I earned my Bachelor's of Arts in sociology. I buried a son. I earned my Bachelor's of Science in Nursing, which by the way I graduated Summa Cum Laude this time. Then I traveled to my graduate school orientation last week. Of one thing I am certain, I am about to give up my life for the last leg of this long journey I have walked.

I am only permitted to take six hours for the first term of NP school. It is a requirement by the University to ensure that all full-time students get enough of a taste without drowning that they can make up their mind whether to continue full-time or drop back to part-time. Since I am intending to not work to any level to interview with graduate studies, it will not impact my decisions whatsoever. However, for students who think they are going to continue working full-time and attend class full-time, this is certain struggle. The University wants them to make an informed decision, not merely drown and fail by getting in over their heads.

They said something at orientation this last week that was strong and compelling. Over and over again, the faculty, the President, the Dean of Students all said, "You would not be here if we did not know you can do this."

That is the truth I am going to hold onto for the next three years as I embark upon this dream. I love this program. The academics are rigorous. The didactic work I will do over the next 15-ish months will stretch me to the brink of sanity. I want to soak up and devour the knowledge that is being placed in front of me now. Then, when I have fully accomplished that, I will go back and prove I have the skills to actually BE a NP. I will spend a week going over my skills and will have to be approved to start my clinicals. I will then come back to do another six to nine months of nothing but full-time clinical work. I will earn my MSN and then immediately flow into my DNP. That will require more didactic and more clinical hours in that final year.

So many things to learn, so much challenge in front of me. In several terms, the estimated hours I will need to just study is 49-50 hours per week. On top of that, I still have to maintain my work at the low income clinic. I still have to be a mother. And, I am still homeschooling one child.

Part of me thinks when I finish this I still want a PhD in Nursing. Part of me simply wants to survive these next three years. I know two things right now. First, what life I have held onto is about to be gone. Second, I have to focus on simply getting through the next three years.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Orientation #1 completed

I can successfully and properly identify types of plagiarism now. That was the culmination of the online orientation I had to complete before going to the in-person orientation for NP school next week. If a new student has never taken an online class before, the information would be highly useful. It would be even more useful if they computer illiterate. Since I am neither of those, it reached a point where II kept looking over and saying, "I'm sorry, that just looks painful." Gee thanks, darling.

I have one assignment to complete in my last class of my last undergraduate coursework. It's due Saturday. It's an academic paper on healthcare and spirituality. I'm writing on the HIV/AIDS trends in the African American population and the role the AA church plays in this trend. After II complained that I bogged down my computer with too many journal articles, he helped me get the new laptop functioning properly so I could print them. One day this week, I will lock myself in my bedroom, spread out all of my sources and start composing. This is the part I am good at. I write well, and I enjoy what I do. It isn't a stressful assignment in the least. I just need to get through volunteer work tomorrow before I can hunker down and accomplish it.

When we knew we were moving at the end of last year, I thought I would hold off on graduate school for another year. I then realized this spring that I am tired of the lack of challenge I feel with undergraduate work. I thrive in an academic setting, and I desperately wanted to start doing academic that challenge me instead of bore me. The decision to apply for grad school was made at the very end of the time left to meet the deadlines, but I pushed through and did it anyway.

Five years ago, I caught II in his cheating. My world fell apart on me five years ago in that discovery. I had an associates in nursing, my RN license was inactive, and I had a half finished BA in sociology. I was deeply entrenched in homeschooling at all costs, even though I recognized that I was dying inside and the kids were almost as miserable as I was. I thought I was happy, but I was also stuck. I had a lot of fear that immobilized me and left me powerless in my life and my world.

I don't even recognize that woman I was five years ago. I have earned two bachelors' degrees. I have rediscovered my passion for learning and teaching. I have ushered a large family of children out of the fear and isolation they too were stuck in, and brought them into a world where all but one are thriving. I have buried a son, and become a working mother. I have also gotten accepted into multiple graduate programs and by the exact five year anniversary, I will start coursework for my NP training.

I am amazed at how far I have come in five years, and how far I still have to go to finish what I started.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

New experiences

I'm still not quite sure how and why we do school supply shopping this month. I've had kids in public school for five years now. You would think I could get used to it. Yet, I still don't. For instance, my kindergartener and second grader are each supposed to bring 12 glue sticks, multiple boxes of already sharpened pencils, multiple boxes of crayons, and an entire assortment of odds and ends otherwise. Meanwhile, my older kids have no actual lists so we fudge basic supplies for them and assume we'll hear any specific requirements for the Junior High and High Schoolers once school starts back. I just don't quite understand the point of all of the high quantity school supplies. I remember when I was a kid, we provided our own supplies, but it seems to me that perhaps the elementary teachers are simply pooling supplies and then distributing them to each student so no one gets left out. I am not entirely sure, and since I still feel like a public school newbie, I just do what I'm told.

So, school begins again this month and all of the children are excited. It's been a good summer, probably our best in several years, but the routine and structure of their school year is welcome for all of them. I've had to repeatedly tell certain children that in a family this size it doesn't really matter if they have an expectation of a new backpack because it's a new schoolyear. Show me a worn out backpack and I will replace it immediately. Otherwise, they will continue to use the same one the had before. We also don't buy a fully wardrobe of clothes. They each get one new outfit, but they all have so many clothes they can nether keep track nor properly care for all of them. The last thing I'm going to do is add more clothes to Mt. Laundry that never gets better already.

This year is quite a threshold of schooling and mothering for me. It is my oldest child's last year at home, his senior year. II is already placing bets with the boys at how much will mom cry this year, and ultimately at his graduation. Yes, I'm going to cry. I cry as A grows up. I never thought I was the crying type of mother, but I cry just the same. Just as big is that this is baby J's first year of school. My great, big boy who has a birthday late in the year and consequently misses the cut-off for the school year will actually be six shortly after school starts. He has been oh so excited and intent upon starting school for two years now, and this year it is his turn to head off into the great big world.

I don't know if my mother's heart can handle this one. Worst of all, I will miss their first day of school entirely. In fact, I will miss most of their first week of school. It occurs the same week as my mandatory, on campus orientation for my NP program. II is taking a vacation day to be here for their first day. For the rest of the week, he'll drop them off at school on his way to work and C will pick them up off the bus in the afternoons.

I'm telling myself it's just four days, but it still is sad for me. I have only ever had one other first day of kindergarten experience. L went to kindergarten but only lasted a month before her grief overwhelmed her and I had to pull her back to homeschooling. So my second and last experience will be lost, but I do have 13 more years to love on my baby boy beyond that week. It will have to be enough.

In the meantime, we continue to get everything gathered up. Four kids need haircuts. The teen boys still need their outfits. The baby boy needs underwear. Yes, he owns underwear, but he prefers to go without, so he needs an over-abundance so he has NO excuse to go to school commando. Baby boy has a kindermat for naptime. I need to find out if he's allowed to have a pillow or blanket or something, because that mat seems awful sterile by itself. L was required to have something small enough to fit into her backpack, but we also did not supply mats, because her school did half day kindergarten. I'm not aware of anyone locally that does half days, and since J is older than most kindregarteners, I'm find with his going full days. The child who wanted a new backpack has a perfectly good one, so was told no. J got onto Amazon and got his first backpack, a Mario brothers one, and his lunchbox, a Scooby-doo Mystery Machine one. Everyone needs to get new socks. It seems this house has a sock monster living in the washing machine and everyone claims to own no socks again, as they do every fall. Otherwise, just a few forgotten odds and ends left to secure and then they all go off to school for another year. I am hoping that with the security that we are not moving again, that these kids will settle into school this year and get back to thriving. They need that opportunity after the last three years.