Thursday night at 10:07pm I completed my last final of my college career. I kept putting it off, waiting until the kids were in bed only to fall asleep at their sides, until there wasn’t any more time to avoid it. I had first thought I was just procrastinating like I had my entire college career (nothing says quality like a paper written at 3am) but as the final seconds ticked away on the test timer, I realized I had been delaying the end of college as long as I could. And as I hit submit for the final time, the moment felt more bitter than sweet.
College has been a part of my life on and off for the last ten years. If I wasn’t attending then I was working, saving money so I could go back. When I found out I was pregnant with David five or so years ago, I realized I wanted to be someone my son could look to as an example. I wanted him to know that he could accomplish anything, even if it was really, really hard. So I started taking online classes at a junior college while on maternity leave. And I kept taking classes after he was born, and while we moved from Humboldt County to San Diego. I took classes while staying with my in-laws, while living in a tiny apartment in Coronado, and while moving into our first real home. I took classes as I cared for a toddler, as I planned a wedding, and as I tried to get pregnant a second time. I took classes during my first, second, and third trimester of my second pregnancy, and had Benjamin conveniently during Christmas break. My final semester was a group effort for my husband, in-laws, and professors. Each of them made sacrifices and accommodations so that I could write this: I am a college graduate.
Having been a college student during two different decades of my life has given me a unique perspective. I have been both the 22-year-old giggling in the back of class as well as the 32-year-old scowling at the giggling girl in the back. And while my marathon-length college experience wasn’t the easiest, I do have the understanding of how important this accomplishment is, an understanding I don’t think I would have had in my twenties. I also have a deep gratitude to all the people in my life that made this possible for me, and I want to take a moment to say thank you.
First, thank you to my parents, who always believed that I could, and who were always there to lend support (both emotional and financial) when I needed it. Thank you for instilling in me a belief that I was worth more and that more was worth working for. Thank you to my in-laws who gave up their free time, who drove countless miles, and who indulged my neurotic inability to allow anyone but family watch my sons. Barb and Gene, without you two I wouldn’t have the life that I do, a life that I dreamed of and love. To Brooke Butcher, Laura Tardio, and Marina Skendzic, you girls made college so much fun. Thank you girls for your friendship, your humor, and for never making me feel like the old lady in class even when I didn’t know who Lady Gaga was. You are all amazing women who will make a huge impact on this world. I love you all and hope that I know you for the rest of my life. To Sandra Doller, an amazing mentor, teacher, and writer. Thank you for teaching me that writing doesn’t have to be a story that goes from point A to point B, for drilling into my head the mantra of show-don’t-tell, and for inspiring me to take my writing further than I imagined it could go. Through your constant encouragement, I began to believe that I could actually be a writer one day. Thank you for giving me the confidence to pursue the only career I ever dreamed for myself.
This last part is for my husband. I am going to get uncharacteristically mushy now, so I ask that everyone but him stop reading. Okay, is it just me and you now? Good. Thank you. Thank you for being the man that I always thought was out there but never thought I’d find. Thank you for our two amazing, beautiful children who have brought more joy into my life than I ever imagined and who expanded my understanding of love. Thank you for working so hard every day without complaint so that I could go to school and stay home with the boys. Thank you for never complaining about the unwashed dishes and mounds of laundry on the couch. Thank you for seeing more in me than I knew was there. Through your patience, kindness, and unwavering support, I have become the wife, mother, and woman I always wanted to be. You are my foundation, the person that raises me up, steadies me, and pushes me forward. Thank you for being my husband. I love you.
And now that that is all said, does anyone know where I can find a job?