It took more than a few days for me to fully accept that my time in graduate school had ended. No papers to complete? No exams and studying weighing on my shoulders? No clients to think about? On top of being a mom, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter coupled with my unrealistic expectations each one of those roles weighs heavily in my heart. I had been referring as these past couple of years as my meantime. That’s how I got through it, really. Though graduate school may be a minimal achievement for others around, for myself and my own capabilities, it equaled an immense accomplishment. Day after day of draining any ounce of my mind, body, spirit. Pouring it all into the experience. Fully and completely preparing myself for a career in mental health counseling. It’s where I had found purpose amidst the time it took me to figure myself out, and I squeezed every drop out of its process. Something I can now do with this learned vulnerability and awareness, but now also something I have been trained to do.
Knowing it wouldn’t last forever allowed for me to give it all I got. And that’s what I did. Because also, I had been loved along the way. That’s what made it even possible for me to now live this luxury of doing what I want to do while finding fulfillment, contributing to society, and bettering myself by attempting to live a life I preach and teach.
All the while my sweet Holden, family moving right along. Living and growing in their own lives during my meantime. My own time to discover and learn. I went back to school when Holden was a toddler, and now as I begin my career in this area, he is wearing uniforms to school. He’s quite a child now. A child who sings, “Sweet Home Lama Lama” and likes to watch “The Lizard of Oz.” A child who loves to go bug-hunting and splash in puddles. A child whose deep chuckle can make anyone smile. A child who argues with me about who loves who more and is also quick to disinvite me from his birthday party. A child who squeezes me so tight during tuck-ins that I have to tickle him to let go. A child whose first breath became my one major reality check to make good decisions and instilled within me confidence that I could live and lead a happy life.
Two years will soon be just a snapshot of his life, during my meantime. Two years will soon be just a snapshot of my life. But, that’s not to say the guilt wasn’t real, isn’t real. The days that would fly by with minimal interaction with mommy will continue to make my nose tickle and eyes water. I’ve played tug-of-war between feeling utterly selfish by depending on so many others to help me with my child and my internal willingness to progress in life by getting through graduate school and committing myself to doing something meaningful. Because it had been a very real conflict every day of that meantime.
When I became a single mom to a five-month old four years ago, the future was blurry. I wasn’t prepared to look forward, and I sure didn’t want to swim circles in the past occasionally rising for air. It was painful, embarrassing, shameful. Subtle scars still resonate. It. Takes. Time. But I sort-of knew one thing back then, that my life at some point would move on. My life would become something special because of the presence of this child of mine, but also because I had been loved, and finally because I owed myself a chance.