It feels so good to finally be able to say that. It’s been a long four years. It’s been four years of year round schooling, two internships, one action research study, two babies, and two deployments for my husband. I’ve spent nights working until 2 am, just to be woken by young children three hours later. I’ve declined countless social invitations, worked through vacations, paid babysitters, paid tuition, and even worked on school work in the hospital before and after having my second child.
As I was struggling through the hardest parts of this program, through the many times I just wanted to quit, I would dream about graduation. I would be running on the treadmill at the gym, dreaming about the day I would walk across the stage to receive this distinctive degree. I imagined my children and husband would be there and some classmates. We’d celebrate this incredible milestone in my lives, and my children would finally understand what I’d been doing all those years behind the computer screen.
How many nights did I put them to bed quickly, saying, “I have to get some work done. I’m sorry, no I can’t read you another story.”
How many preschool celebrations did I miss because I was clocking internship hours?
How many mornings was I just exhausted from staying up with a statistics book and a nursing infant?
It was all for this. For this degree. For this moment, of walking across that stage, of being successful in something I thought I could never accomplish.
But graduation is the week before Christmas. In Texas. At 7 o’clock at night. On a day my husband cannot get off of work.
So we might not be able to go.
And I am heartbroken. Devastated.
Why do I want to go? I mean, really, why?
- Because I want a moment to shine, to celebrate all this hard work.
- Because I want my children to see what I’ve accomplished.
- Because I give so much to take care of my family, and I want something that is centered around me and something I want, but don’t necessarily need.
- Because I am a stay at home mom (for the most part,) and don’t have colleagues celebrating this accomplishment.
- Because if I don’t go…does it mean it never happened?
I could go alone. I could fly to Texas for the weekend, walk across the stage, and fly back home. But that would be meaningless to me. Why? Because my children and husband wouldn’t be there to celebrate with me. So then the question becomes, do I want to go because I need this validation? And if that’s the only reason, maybe it’s not really that important to be present.
And then, when I’m really trying to understand my thoughts here, I wonder why it’s so important to me that they see me graduate. In my darkest moments, I wonder if being “just” their mom is enough. Shouldn’t I be five million other things, too? Will they still respect and look up to me if they think my sole purpose in their early years was them?
So maybe I want to go only to prove something. And that’s just silly.
I’ll frame that diploma. I’m really proud of it.
But if I don’t walk across that stage, I’ll be sad and disappointed, but the degree still means the same.
I still got it.