I hesitated to post my speech from graduation for privacy reasons (this being the internet, where creepers prey on people and all that), but I refuse to let that fear decide for me, so here it is. I was soooo scared to deliver this speech in front of all those people, but it turned out the be the best, bravest thing I ever did, and I will never forget what an amazing day that was. Enjoy!
On April 17th, I brought my daughter to Award’s Day at my college. I sat with all my other Student Nurses’ Association girls (and one male student nurse), and cheered everyone on as awards were announced. Like last year, I won a Student Senate award with a decent scholarship attached. It was a nice day, and even more meaningful as we all near graduation in a few weeks.
The last awards were being called, and my six year old daughter, who had been very patient up to this point, was getting antsy. “Are we gonna get one of the trophies, Mama?” I told her that we were almost done, and then we could go home. The top three award recipients get these silver-plated bowls with their names inscribed on them, and she wanted one of those awards. I think she’s been spoiled by my double-award win earlier this year, at a community-wide fundraising gala for my school, where I won the top two awards for my swing dance routine in the mock- Dancing with The Stars event. She and her brother have been fighting over those trophies ever since.
So they finally got up to announce the last award, the President’s Award for Outstanding Citizenship for Extensive Participation in Social and Academic Activities (what a mouthful, huh?)… and they call MY NAME! My daughter gasped aloud, and I walked down the steps trying very hard not to trip in front of all these people. Up front, they read off this long description of why I was getting the award, and it sounded awfully long and impressive… I think they were practically reading off my entire resume! Then the em cee said that I did this all while raising two children, and he invited my daughter down front, too. As nervous as she was, she ran down the steps and came up front to accept the award with me. She held the big bowl in her little hands and said to me, “We WON it, Mama!” I have never been so proud.
Then, lest it be a dull end to the ceremony, they said that despite all that, the thing I was best known for at our college was my performance in the Dancing with the Stars event… and without further ado, they lowered a huge screen and showed my whole dance routine on video, right in front of the whole audience. When it was over, the President of the school whispered in my ear, “We are all so proud of you. I don’t know how you did it all.” Then she said to my daughter, “You should be very proud of you mother. She worked very hard for you.” I felt like crying.
But the tears really came when everyone stood up to give us a standing ovation, and my little girl and I stood there in front of an entire room clapping and cheering for us. And right then, every late night of studying and every hour of work for our Student Nurses’ Association club, and every a night of lost sleep because of an upcoming exam… it was all worth it. Because I’m a winner. I came to college feeling like a loser, but in three years I reinvented myself. I am finally the person I always wanted to be.
And that, Dear Readers, was worth an update post.
Graduation is in a couple of weeks, and because of this award, I’ll be a speaker at Commencement. I’ll let you know how that goes. Until then, here’s a bad video of the dance routine I mentioned. It was filmed by someone from the display on their computer, and it looks as bad as you’d imagine, but you can get the idea….
… Mandy at Since My Divorce has begun a follow-up series about my story, a year and a half after her first series. You can read it here.
It’s always surreal to read about yourself, but even more so because of how far away and long ago all of my divorce drama now seems. I feel so far removed from it all, in fact, that I removed all the old private posts about that stuff from this blog last year (though I moved all the content to another blog for prosperity).
After three years on my own, being a single mom is more comfortable than being a married mom ever was. Just today, I had coffee with a new neighbor, a single mom who just remarried after three years of doing it on her own. It was strange to talk about “becoming” a single parent three years ago, since I feel like I own this role now, like I was born this way. I’m so used to my life now, and the predictability of running my own household, going to school and clinicals at the hospital, and raising up these two kiddos. In fact, I find it harder and harder to imagine it differently.
Anyway, pop over to Mandy’s site and read through her site. She has so many inspiring and interesting stories of many women who have come through divorce not only strong, but better; happier even. It’s nice to see that sometimes, good can come from divorce!
When I was younger, it seemed like a day was forever, and “next Christmas” was incomprehensible, too long a wait to even imagine. Adults warned me that life would speed by, and that I should enjoy being a child while I had the chance. Unfortunately, my childhood wasn’t the typically enjoyable type, and the fact that it seemed to stretch on endlessly made it all the harder. But now, having recently passed my thirty-year mark in this life, I see what they mean: Life moves at the speed… of life. Which is to say, very fast.
Three years ago I moved out and started over on my own. Two years ago I took a night class for math at a local high school, because I had the radical idea to go to college. One year ago I aced my prerequsite science classes and began the nursing program at the best ADN program in my state. This year I’m about to start my senior year in the nursing program as President of the Student Nurses’ Association, and I am armed with thousands of dollars in scholarships, awarded to me because I have proven that I have talent and the willingness to work very hard toward my goals.
In the last three years I’ve also made progress in my personal life: I’ve made good friends and overcome some of fears of asking for help when I need it. I’ve learned to accept friendship and to trust that people will be there when I need them.
I’ve also practiced the skill we call dating: that rigorous trek toward vulnerability and openness, and I have learned both to identify what I need to be happy and to ask for it. In many cases, this has meant also learning to walk away (not an easy thing for me), but I’ve learned how to do that, too.
And at home with my children, I’ve learned to trust the process a bit more, and to not agonize over every misstep I make. I’m still learning about how to enjoy the time I have with them now, rather than slipping into my habit of putting “fun” off until later… because the funny thing about time is that there is no “later.” Later, it will be “now” again, and so that excuse only results in a life of rushing to get things done and fighting the eternal bettle of laundry, dishes, and homework…
I guess what I’m saying is that right now, I’m taking some stock of how far I’ve come, and I’m allowing myself to soak it in and absorb some of that, because this is good stuff! I’m not perfect, and I have far to go to reach my goals, both academically and personally… but the important thing is that I wake up every morning and I keep on trekking, and I keep challenging my self-doubt and refusing to be limited by what my past story seemed to tell me for such a long time… and I am getting there.
I don’t make any promises that I’ll update here often. It really depends on how school goes, and how life goes. But for those of you who still read here: thank you for following my story and being the only support I had for awhile there, back before I even had the chutzpah to go back to school. I am so grateful.
I am now the President Elect of the SNA!!! So awesome and a bit scary…
And I’m crazy busy getting ready for a trip to Salt Lake City this week for the NSNA Convention there…. More later. :)
When I used to be a very avid blog reader and writer, I would get disappointed when people fell off the blogging wagon. All the more so because it usually coincided with a blogger being busy with new and exciting things happening and life moving forward. In the world of the divorce blogs that I used to frequent, this was always cause for celebration, but it was anticlimactic to be left behind by that blogger as she posted less and less frequently. Now I am that blogger.
I won’t make promises about taking up posting regularly again (though I hope I do at some point), because I find myself busier and busier each semester… but I also find myself feeling more isolated at times by my hectic schedule, and when the loneliness hits I find myself missing this outlet and the connections I made in those first two years when I became a single mom and started thinking about college. Now here I am, living the single mom life and midway through my RN program, but I miss feeling like a part of a larger community of women sharing their stories and supporting each other.
An update: I’m mostly through my first year of the nursing program at my school, and this time next year I’ll be looking forward to graduating. I have seven weeks left this semester, and then a few weeks off before my summer semester begins. Most nursing students don’t do a summer semester, but I have two other classes to take if I want to graduate on time, and I don’t want to take them on top of the nursing course-load next school year. So this summer is devoted to microbiology and a math class. I am also applying for my LNA license so I can get some part-time work if I need it during the summer, thought I hope I don’t have to fit that in on top of classes and taking care of the kids (who will not be in preschool all summer).
And for some crazy, amazing news: Last month, I was nominated for President of the Student Nurse Association at my school! Elections are next week, so I’ll let you know for sure then. This is a HUGE deal to me, because you may remember that school has never been a sure thing for me. I had a dismal GPA in high school, and I dropped out at age 16, so to go back to school as an adult and get As and be nominated for President of the SNA… well, it’s literally a life-changing thing for me. I feel like I’ve come full circle, and I’m very proud of myself. So proud that I don’t even care if I sound full of myself!
I’m heading out today to tour a new school for Bean. She’s going to kindergarten next year, and her father and I are trying to get her into a great little school with a scholarship program. Fingers crossed for that.
To those of you who still do… thanks for reading.
Part of my plan for reducing stress for the next semester is to quit caffeine. Well, I’m on day three of my caffeine detox, and I would like to say: OW!
The last two days I did alright. Mild headaches and feeling a bit lethargic, but nothing too bad. But then this morning I started feeling a tension headache. I had plans to work on some knitting projects at a friend’s house at 11am, but after an hour and a half there, the headache was really bad and I felt the nausea that comes with my migraines. Great. So I drove the ten minutes home and promptly tossed my cookies and took my Imitrex and spent a couple hours in bed, hiding from the light. The rest of the afternoon has been manageable, and I was able to keep down some scrambled eggs, but I can’t go dancing tonight as planned because I still feel rather peaked. Yuck.
I hear that people often feel much better and less wound-up after they quit drinking coffee and soda, and I really hope that’s my experience, too. This withdrawal sucks, but it makes me even more determined to kick the habit. I had no idea I was so hooked on my daily caffeine intake!