School – A New Chapter
My big day finally came – the first day of school. I can still remember how nervous I was. I left home as soon as Shane got on his bus. I got there early because I didn’t know what traffic would be like and I didn’t want to be late for my first day of school in nearly twenty years.
I sat in my car, holding my phone – my fingers hovering over the keys. I wanted to text Luke so badly and tell him how nervous I was. I wanted to share this with him. I wanted his confident reassurance that I could do this. So I typed out the text. I told him everything that I wanted to. Then I hit “end.” Then I texted him some more. And I hit “end” again. Then I pretended I got a response from him telling me that I’d do great and to have fun. I got out of my car and walked into the building – ready to start my new life.
Oh. My. Goodness!!!!!!!!! I can’t tell you what an experience those first few weeks of school were. I had some hard classes. Anatomy and Physiology (the most failed class on campus – yikes!), Diet and Nutrition, Elementary Statistics, and Medical Terminology. I had tried not to think about the amount of work my classes were going to take. I was grossly in over my head. I was scared to death that I was going to fail all my classes and fail as a mother. How could I carry these classes and still give my children what they needed? How could I do it all?
I’d arranged my classes so that I had Wednesdays and Fridays off. Those are the days I stayed at home to catch up on housework and do my Medical Terminology (Med Term) class, since it was an online class. Arcadia was interested in it also and I knew her presence would motivate me, so we committed to doing Med Term together every Wednesday and Friday morning.
Each of my professors started out the first day of class with homework and test dates that weren’t very far off. To say I was overwhelmed would’ve been an understatement. For A&P, the professor had two students from last semester’s A&P class come tell us what to expect. Their best advice was to make note cards for everything and always have them in your hands. They basically told us to live, eat, and breathe A&P because that is what it took to do well in the class. All I could think as I sat there was, “I’m a mother. I don’t have time for this class. I’m going to fail.”
It took a couple of weeks for me to get into a rhythm with doing school work, cooking, cleaning, helping the kids with their homework, going to counseling, and doing everything else I had to do as a newly single mom. At first, I had very mixed emotions about going to school. I had a hard time saying good-bye to my stay at home mom status. Serenity was not adapting to the change very well. She was homeschooled, so it was hard for her to be alone for so many hours during the days. Yet, there was a part of me that was starting to blossom being out in the world.
I was lucky to have very good professors – all women! I had to talk to my A&P professor right away because I found out we’d be dissecting a cat! I didn’t think I’d do so well with that. She just recommended that I find other people in my class who were willing to do the cutting. It wasn’t required that I do the actual dissection but I was responsible for learning the material. If I could do that without actively participating in the cutting, then that was my choice.
I found myself drawn to my female classmates. I spoke to them and felt very comfortable talking to them about the class and getting to know them. The men, however, I pretty much avoided. Except for the young man who sat beside me in nutrition.
He was 17 years my junior and he was too sexy for words. It was all I could do not to grin like an idiot when he walked into class because he was just that handsome and I felt like a teenage girl. I would sit there and tell myself that I was old enough to be his mother. I made sure to have my A&P book out and be busy studying when he came into class so that I wouldn’t be tempted to stare. It was my first introduction to being attracted to a man since I’d left. I was strangely fascinated with him because even as I found him stunningly attractive, I was absolutely terrified of him. He was a man after all and I learned the hard way that men couldn’t be trusted.
I spent two entire months trying to work up the courage to talk to him. Then one day, he noticed what I was studying and asked me who I had for A&P. We got to talking about it because he’d had it the previous semester. After that, I made it a point to say hello to him before class each day. It was my own way of trying to desensitize myself so that I would be more comfortable talking to men.
School was turning out to be fun – even as it was mind-bendingly difficult. The kids really learned to enjoy when I had an A&P test coming up. I would park myself in the middle of my king-sized bed for the entire weekend and do nothing but study. Since I didn’t want to have to do all the mom stuff too, I declared those weekends all-you-can-play video game weekends.
I was sure my kids brains were going to rot out of their heads but I had studying to do. I’d weighed the pros and cons. Letting them have some brain melting weekends so I could do well in my classes was worth it because I was trying to improve our lives. Once the semester was over I could go back to setting limits on their screen time.
I was learning to accept compromises in my parenting. I was learning that I didn’t have to be the perfect mother at all times – even though it still felt like I had to be with the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) breathing down my neck.
I knew she couldn’t see it all and the kids would never tell her that there were weekends that all they ate was frozen pizza and watched t.v. and played video games so Mommy could study.