Get a good night’s sleep.

That’s the first tip on any “preparing for the big exam” list. In my case, it was the GRE. The exam I had been prepping for day in and day out. Finally it was the night before that 4-hour timer where every second counts started at 8:00 a.m.

Get a good night’s sleep. One lamb over the fence, two lambs, three… “BLUUGHHH.” Then splattering noises. “Wahhhhhh!”

Clock reads 11:04 p.m. Holden’s sick. Vomited all over his crib. Soaked pajamas, runny nose, dinner all over his pillow. That little round facing looking up at me with hazel eyes full of  tears.

Change clothes. Change diaper. Remove soiled blankets and pillows. Wipe face. A little Sprite. Back to bed.

Get a good night’s sleep.

“BLAH.” Splatter. “Wahhh!”

Repeat for the next eight hours. Until I found myself cradling my two-year-old boy inside his crib with the few blankets left that were clean. Rubbing his forehead and humming Amazing Grace. Finally asleep and sound. Until he threw up in my face.

Get a good night’s sleep? Not this girl. Not this mom. Not this person who’s trying to better herself and her family by going to graduate school but has to take an exam to get into that graduate school first.

Not this 26-year-old who wants to go to graduate school so that I can try to better the life of others by utilizing this boatload of empathy I’ve been so graciously given over the past few years.

You keep going. Going hard. With motivation, the Big Why, as we say in real estate.

8:00 a.m. Exam time.

Time to take the test I had been preparing for and devoting time and energy to. Time and time again I asked myself if it was worth all the stress. I’m the type of person who needs to work really hard because getting tested on how to take a standardized test, exactly what the GRE is testing for, doesn’t come natural to me. So I was overwhelmed at times. Because I knew that test needed to have a certain number pop up when it was all over. It needed that number to get to the place I want to go: to get to where I can be what I want to be. I needed that score to tell me that it was worth that stress. If that number wasn’t there, I was getting told, “No. You’re not going there.” A life lesson that is always so hard to accept when you come across it and try to refuse it.

Amidst the studying, I was having to compromise my priority in life. Being that best mom I could be to my little boy. Get a babysitter, go to a class, study all the time. Oh, on top of work. All of which included not spending that time with Holden. Necessary to achieve what I needed to in a score that shows I’m capable of, ultimately, helping others. Sounds great, but is it selfish? Is it selfish of me to get from point A to point B by missing time with Holden so that I can better Holden’s life in the long run? I wonder this over and over again. It’s a constant series of questions as I do so much every day.

I realize that more often than not moms these days go back to work. 6-8 weeks maternity leave I believe is the norm. In my situation, since Holden’s birth, I have tried and tried to overcompensate everything I could for Holden to feel like nothing is missing. For me to be present always. To swing from trees with him. To laugh with him. There to mold him, love him, teach him, influence him all the “right” way.  Trying to do it every minute probably has handicapped both him and I in a way, because you’re the best parent when you take care of yourself. I hadn’t done that for a while. And now, I’m trying. I’m trying because my reality is in check.

I wonder as I try to put the pieces together of how I am going to do what I want to do. “What I want to be when I grow up.” And I’m really excited about that. I’m just doing it all backwards. Backwards, though I don’t mind really. Having a child and then going back to school. However, my life began when Holden was born, so in a way, it can feel like I’m just starting.

And it keeps getting better every day. Better even when I’m elbows deep in vomit in the middle of the night before a very important test. Wouldn’t change a thing.


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