Friday is my last day as a full time student and a mom. I have a few loose ends to tie up but this summer I will be completely done with school. I feel refreshed but at the same time it feels strange knowing that there are no more papers, finals, late night readings or cram sessions. And hopefully no more cold coffee after sleepless nights! I know I won't miss these things, but it defined who I was as a mother for so long that I feel emotional letting go. For almost the last 4 years I have been both a student and a mother.
Looking back on it all I can say that being a mom and a student was awkward at times. I was that "different" person in the classroom. Not that I was weird or better or anything like that, I just stood out. Never before in my life have I been more self conscious. I was very aware that I was in a much different place in my life than everyone else. My peers were enjoying the freedom of college life and an occasional beer, which I completely understand. Meanwhile, I was at home trying to balance everything. I was attempting to study while getting my child ready for bed and cooking dinner, all at the same time.
It sounds humorous really, that my life was a balancing act. Or as some have said, that I was trying to do "too much" all at once. But it was everyday life for me. I chose this life and I could handle it all. I had no desire to party but I did feel like I was misunderstood, judged, and horribly out of place. In the beginning I struggled with this, I felt ashamed and alone to be a student AND a mom. Yes, I had friends that stuck by me and I had an amazing family that were there every step of the way. However, being different meant that certain friends would leave my life forever because they would never understand that being a parent has no off days. It dawned on me that I should be proud of what I was doing. From then on I embraced my identity as BOTH a mom and a student.
These last four years my family, school, and extended family and friends have defined my life. Today I start a new chapter. My identity feels "unknown" in the sense that I get to redefine my life. Oh the things that I can do now! There are so many possibilities of what to do with my "free" time, it is overwhelming really! I can do household projects I have been neglecting. And then maybe even relax or take up a hobby or two.
It is fitting that my last week of classes is right before Mother's Day. In my heart I know I am a better mom for powering through school. If I had stopped or slowed, I would never have been able to finish. I am the type of person that has to completely dive into something to finish a project. I just HAD to keep going. So I kept pushing myself and pushing myself, and then pushing myself a little more. I used my momentum as motivation. Financially we are more secure. And I would like to think that I am also wiser for finishing my degree. Some day when our children are grown I hope to be able to use it finally. But for now I just want to take a break and be there for all those small moments. I don't want to miss anything and I hope to never have to leave my boys again.
So here is to all those mothers that are determined to finish school and work hard every day, pushing themselves and persevering despite being told it is too much to handle or impossible. Everything in life is doable, you just have to enjoy the ride.