Monday, December 19, 2011

Mama's a Graduate at Last

Dear Delilah,

When I found out I was pregnant with you, I was well into my second year as a full-time student after returning to college to complete a Bachelor's degree at the ripe young age of 28. I was on track to graduate in Spring of 2010, based on my plan to take a hefty load of credits each semester, including summers, and continuing to work part time.

Needless to say, everything changed when I discovered I was on my way to fulfilling a dream that was even more important to me than my dream of completing my degree. I was going to be a mother. Your mother. And as the story usually goes, my priorities changed. School was no longer the top priority, though it remained high on the list. I knew that in order to be the kind of student I wanted to be while being the kind of mother I hoped to be, I had to change my plans. Gone were the 17 credit semesters and spending hours on campus. They were replaced by 6 credit semesters and as many online courses as I could take.

Working on a paper with
1 month old Delilah
The greatest challenge for me over the last few years has been maintaining balance. Juggling motherhood, school, and work hasn't been easy, and while I think I managed to make the best of it, there were times when I wanted to give up. With the investment of both time and money I was making, it was important to me that I be able to devote myself to getting the most out of the education I was acquiring. It was important for me to turn in only the best work, and to study in order to do the best I was capable of on exams. None of that was more important to me, however, than being a present, attentive, nurturing mother.

I didn't always succeed. There were times I turned in work that wasn't my best, and more regrettably, their were times when I wasn't at my best as your mother. There were times when due dates were near and my patience was limited. There were times when you wanted to play and I had to focus on completing a paper or project. There were times when I had to miss out on fun family events because I had to be at class. There were times when graduation day seemed so far away and unreachable that I questioned why I was bothering with school at all.

And now, finally, at long last. It happened. I graduated. Not only did I graduate, but I graduated Summa Cum Laude (with highest honors, or as Daddy says, I graduated "really loud"). And now, people want to know "What will you do after graduation?" Will I head straight into grad school? Will I seek full-time employment in my field? Can I get more hours in my current positions?

All of those options are possibilities...eventually. I do plan to continue to my education to the graduate and perhaps even doctorate level. Some day. I plan to work full-time in my field. Some day. I may increase my hours a little bit at my current jobs, but primarily, my plan is to increase my mama hours. For now, I'm going to wake up and enjoy leisurely mornings with my beloved daughter. I'm going to play and learn and explore with my little girl. I'm going to bake and cook and clean and garden and play guitar and sing and sew. I'm going to get back in touch with my parenting principles and philosophies, and I am going to try to live them every day.

There will always be further education. There will always be more hours to work. There won't always be a precious little girl who needs her mama, and I'm going to hold on to that little girl for as long as she'll let me. Thank you for your patience with me, sweet Delilah. Thank you for being adaptable. Thank you for your grace and humor. Thank you for cheering me on while I walked across that stage to accept my diploma. I can't wait for all of the adventures we have in store for us in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, and I can't way to enjoy them with you.



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