Yesterday, I started a little project: to read all of the Jane Austen novels by the end of the year. Somehow, I have never read a single one, and I find that odd. So I am changing that and blogging my reactions here, should you want to follow along.
16 Days. Of course I type that while I am supposed to be awake putting together a 45-minute multimedia presentation on integrated marketing practices for class tomorrow. My final project for a marketing elective to round out my requirements for the almighty advanced degree. John, in his awesomeness, brewed the strong coffee for me before turning in for the night. And I can’t quit thinking. I can’t quit thinking, not of integrated marketing as I should be, but of the uncertainty of my life right now. Have you ever been in a place where the things you spend your days doing no longer feel like they are what you should be doing? Where you feel like maybe your real life awaits you, if only you can survive this short little interim? That is this place. These are those days.
My views may possibly be skewed. I realize this. There are people who have devoted their entire lives to do what I have done for the past eight years. They keep doing it, content with their contribution to the world. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It is honorable. I’m not selfless enough. I feel like I have spent the past eight years paying dues to the world, to my being in general. To the spirit of my mother, who died from lung disease. I’ve been a good girl, and I have been good at my job. There are, in all honesty, people who are breathing today because of the work I have done. I have been there to help babies who could not help themselves. I have been there when families have said goodbye to parts of themselves. I have wiped brows of the dying, delivered tough love when necessary, compassion when it was needed. I have put myself and my family last. And now, after all of these years of doing that, I want to do something different, and in my warped mind, I have earned that. Not because I will, in just 16 days, have a piece of paper with my name in beautiful calligraphy saying I have completed some requirement set forth from society, but because I have paid my dues in other ways.
People ask me what it is I want, and I always answer with a “we’ll see” kind of shrug. I love healthcare, am passionate about healthcare. And I want to leave some sort of mark on this industry that is on a higher level than the one I am currently leaving. And I want to do so in a way that allows time for me, time for my family.
Lately, I have been thinking a great deal about my path through higher education as a non-traditional student. Evan was about 2 when I put on a backpack for the first time since my mom died, which was eight years before that. Evan is 12. I will finish this long road about 2 weeks before the ten-year anniversary of that first time back. And I have thought about it. I have allowed myself the luxury of pondering just sucking it up, reaching deep, and going straight into a Ph.D. program or a JD, even. And then I think of them. Of Evan and Zach, of John. And what I want is no longer about a higher degree or prestige. Now, when I think of what I want, it isn’t grandiose at all. It’s simple stuff. Little things that aren’t luxuries to most, but have been to me in these years where I have tried to do it all.
I want to come home and not have to rush off to class, be able to eat dinner with my family at a normal hour around a table with food we prepared at home. I want to watch a movie with John without worrying about homework I should be doing or, better yet, am actually trying to do with said movie playing in the background. I would love to take the boys to a movie or park on a weeknight for no reason at all. Maybe even go on a weekend hiking trip. Maybe John and I could have a real date once in a while. Or I could read a book that has not a damned thing to do with academics at all. I want to blog more. Maybe I could revamp this one a little bit with all I know about social media marketing and content creation these days. I want to join a gym and be able to go–and not some lame attempt a a resolution where I don’t have the follow-through because, hey, thinking I would even have the time for a workout each day was optimistic at best, even closer to being the world’s dumbest idea. No, I want to actually go. And work on myself a little bit, and not just on cramming my brain with as much knowledge as possible.
It’s so strange to me. When I started this, I thought, “MBA: the CEO’s degree. I’m want to be loaded.” It isn’t about that anymore. It’s about enjoying life and having the means to do so comfortably. There is only one material possession I even want, and it is going to sound worse than it is: that new Mercedes CLA 250. Sounds greedy and ridiculous, right? No, because in reality, it is only about 3K more than I paid for our current car and I bought it used. And the current car is too big for me to feel comfortable driving with my vision issues. So sounds crazy, but really isn’t. But anyway, here I am at the end, and the salary isn’t the thing anymore. The job is, the career is, the comfort is, but the money isn’t. And I am saying this about 2 days before I have an interview for a position that would pay more money than I have seen in my life–about 5 times my current salary. And now I suddenly don’t care. Well, I mean, I care in that there is a minimum I can take. I worked hard and paid a lot of money for my MBA. I can’t just give it away. But money isn’t the key determinant.
So here I am. Sixteen days from the big finish. And it feels like everything in my current life is winding down so I can start the new one. So these are the days. The days of excitement, of anticipation. Of anxiety and uncertainty. Of endings and new beginnings. Of wrapping up and starting anew. Of sheer panic mixed with resolution and calm.
These are the days I have to let go and hope it all works out, that it proves to have been worth it.
And if it does work out, these are the days I get to lean back, prop up my feet, and tell myself that after ten years, I earned every damned bit of it.
One day, I’ll return to writing for my own sake.
In the meantime, this is what is going on right now:
Evan is thriving in middle school. The girls are swarming. It’s bad. Last Thursday, after some really strange symptoms that had been going on sporadically, we were told that they thought he had a brain tumor. More about that experience on another day. I just can’t right now. He is seeing a pediatric neurologist in a few days and we’ll hopefully get to the bottom of it. In the meantime, I am trying not to unravel in my worry by focusing my attention on the fact that the head CT was negative. I am instead focusing on other things: that–for the first time ever–this kid has friends; that girls love him and I actually have to worry about what goes on when he is not supervised with a girl, that he is now wearing small men’s clothes, that he has that goofy ‘stache coming in and his dad is going to have to teach him to shave.
Zach is…Zach. He refuses to have anything to do with a toilet. I am tired of having to buy Pull-Ups. Or worse yet, diapers. He still sleeps in a diaper because Pull-Ups leak too much at bedtime. I would let him feel that discomfort with the idea that it would motivate him, but he just sleeps through it, thus we sleep through it, and we wake in the morning to a child with a rash and blue lips from sleeping in soaked pajamas. I cannot deal with neither the grossness factor or the health risk of that. We encourage. His preschool teachers encourage. We have purchased every toilet-learning device known to man, looking for the magic one. Currently, that is this cushie Prince Lionheart insert that seems so comfy that I wish it would accommodate adults.He has no desire whatsoever. But what is he doing? He is speaking plainly, counting, saying his alphabet, (crudely) writing his name, singing songs. (Please do not mix up the order of he verses of “The Wheels on the Bus”!) In May, this was the child who could literally say nothing that a stranger could understand. So I am not sweating the potty stuff. We’ll get there. He always does, doesn’t he? He’s still my little wonder–smart, cute, funny, sweet. He’s just Zachy.
John is making me proud everyday, He has lost over 50 pounds since the fateful day over the summer when a doctor I respect came to me to tell me that he could have died at any second from the blockages in his heart. His BP is down. He is down to only one medication for diabetes, and that dosage even had to be cut in half. His cardiologist cleared him to run at home after he outgrew the mild exercises at cardiac rehab. His cholesterol was actually low at his last check, so his medication for that was cut in half. The beta-blacker was stopped after he exhibited no need for it. He was wearing a size 40 waist in the summer. He is down to a 34, and those are falling off, but we’re holding off on shopping for more, since he’s built up to 2-mile runs daily–any little bit of weight he has left will melt off as his endurance gets back up there. His doctor says he only needs to lose 9 more pounds to be ideal body weight. If he loses 18 more, he will be back down to his post-boot camp weight from his Marine Corps days.
And me? I’m hanging in there. I have–wait, let me count–8 more weeks left of school. I start my capstone next Saturday. My paperwork for graduation is submitted. I am off of work. Blame some little boys who cannot seem to get their dirty laundry in a hamper. I tripped on some dirty clothes and fell down the entire flight of basement stairs on my left leg, with it ricocheting off of each step on the way down. They thought stuff was torn. Instead, I found out that every piece of cartilage in there is inflamed from the trauma. So it has been injections, PT, crutches (for about 5 weeks). I am finally to the walking stage, but only for very short trips and in transit. I cannot stand or walk for long periods at all. (Read: I can limp to my class and sit in a chair, I can walk to the car and get in it, but I can’t do shopping trips, etc.) I’m just hanging in. Also, I remember lamenting on here how I hated undergrad corporate finance. It has nothing on the 600 level.
I’ll be a blogger again one day, I swear,
So it seems that grad school is crazy. Well, grad school plus full-time employment plus parenting and wifedom is crazy. My life goes like this these days: Friday, Saturday, Sunday—sleep a little, wake up to eat and study and hug my babies, then off to work for 13-hour nights; Monday—get off of work in the morning and try to sleep for a few hours, then wake up and write any papers that are due; Tuesday through Thursday—classes for both John and I. In between, I squeeze in more study time. Somewhere in there, we squeeze in appointments for Evan and Zach’s speech therapy.
The result of all of this? I am, as of the end of this current semester in a couple of weeks, 75% finished with my MBA, according to the handy degree progression tool on my school’s website. If I take 4 classes in January, 3 during the summer, and 3 next fall, I will be finished in December of 2013. Done. Done done DONE. (And my January classes are already scheduled.)
The other result is that I have fallen off of the blogosphere and all of my bloggy friends and followers have either forgotten that I exist or hate me now. I’m sorry. Know that my absence has been for the greater good, because—surprise—I am really good at this whole business thing. I get it. I am thriving on the challenge. Because, although life is hectic, I cannot tell a lie and must admit that I love every stimulating minute of it. The projects, the exams, the papers, the presentations. Working with international students from entirely different cultures and hearing them talk about their homes. Being with really bright students and brilliant professors who know me. Finding out that, not only do I love marketing, but I am good at it. I GET IT. And for the first time, I am challenged. Before this, my challenges were limited to challenges of time management. This challenge is not only time management, but intellectual challenge as well. I mean, I got my first B EVER. Microeconomics. Because the shit was hard. Really difficult. And there is a level of respect there, too. Because I am a degree-holding professional and my peers and professors understand that. They seek my opinions. They ask for my input and ideas. The treatment of a grad student is so much different than that of an undergrad.
So I have a couple more papers and a final exam left in macroeconomics, and I am finished for the semester. I hope to blog some during the break. At some point, I will get my texts for next semester and start preparing for the next marathon, but I will have some time to be on here a little. If you’re still out there, let me know.
I was going to get a good night’s rest tonight before my GMAT tomorrow. Incidentally, this is also the test that will make or break me. And then I couldn’t resist clicking the links to some blogs I follow and seeing what everyone is up to these days.
My heart hurts from it. I know it shouldn’t but it does.
I am so happy for my friends who have children who are whizzing through their milestones. I was going to comment. And then I stopped because it hit me.
My baby is amazing. He is smart and funny. He imitates sounds. As soon as you finish a drink at the house, he snatches your glass or cup and promptly runs it to the kitchen sink because he knows that is where it goes, damnit. He has a better sense of direction than I do. He climbs and runs and jumps. You can tell him, “Zachy, give me the phone/ book/ remote/ toy of whatever name/ paper/ pen/ any other obscure object”, and he knows exactly what you want and will hand that object to you. He is, by all rights, a toddler. He has wants and needs now. He is playful. He is fucking unbelievably adorable and people come up to him all of the time in public.
Yet the second reason why my heart hurts.
Because he is toddler and people expect him to say small phrases. Or respond when they ask his name. Or when they say hello or goodbye. Instead he looks at them. He won’t speak. He won’t even attempt. And there is this awkward pause. And he has the wants of a toddler, but he cannot tell us. Sure, they are teaching him to sign. He can now tell us ” more” or “drink”. But that doesn’t tell us if he wants milk or apple juice. or whether “more” means food or play or bedtime stories. And while you are trying to figure it out, he is wanting it and having a meltdown because he does’t understand why in the fuck you will not help him out right then.
Today, we got his hair cut. And the stylist was trying to talk to him. For the first time, I had to explain that he understands but he won’t speak. And then, as if there was something wrong with him that I had to make excuses for him, I followed up by blurting out that he was almost 2 months premature and he is behind is all. As in “please-don’t-think-he’s-a-freak-he’s-not-a-freak-he’s-a-fucking-miracle”. Why? Why do I feel like I have to make excuses? Better yet, why the fuck am I crying right now? Zach is fine. He isn’t even slow, cognitively anyway. When they assessed his cognitive development, he scored above average. WAY above average. The problem isn’t with Zach. The problem is with me.
We want our children to run faster , learn more, be cuter than the others. And then when they don’t, we tend to internalize that like I am doing right now. And when we hear a child is having probems, we assume stuff. Mom smoke/drank/ did drugs while pregnant. The parents are stupid or uneducated or come from a low socioeconomic background. Or they got no prenatal care.
What happens when the mom got the best prenatal care around by some of the best specialists in the field of maternal/fetal medicine? What happens when the family is from a middle class environment? And both have college educations? And the child has an older brother who is freakishly gifted? And when mom is no dummy, was a merit scholar, labeled gifted all of her life? Or maybe mom and dad work too much and noone works with the child? But no, because mom and dad make sacrifices so that one parent is with the child at all times. Went through hell to give the child breastmilk, organic baby food, nurturing, and more. What happens when the parents have done everything right? Well then to have a child have something wrong just slaps everything we believe right back in our faces. Because if all of these things apply to us and there is something wrong, then that means there is no control. That means it could happen to any fucking one of you, too.
So when I tell you my kid won’t talk, and you have that awkward pause, is that what is going on in your mind?
And now it’s worse. Because today, we got Zach’s hair cut. And he is a little boy now insead of a baby, so instead of just a trim, he has a little boy style. It is so fricken cute I cannot stand it. But he looks like a little boy now, which means people will expect more. More awkward pauses.
So if you are one of my mommy-blogger friends here in the blog world and I follow your blog, and you noticed that I haven’t made comments, please do not be offended or think ill of me. I am not wishing this on anyone. I am glad that your children are doing well. I want for them to continue to do so. One day, hopefully soon, I will take pleasure in reading about the new and amazing things they are doing. But it is very, very hard for me to read of the things that your child is doing and mine should be doing and is not. I get angry at our situation, hurt, and then feel guilty for even feeling like that, all because I read a blog post. And then what should I say? “Gee, be glad your child is normal?” No, because then it will make you feel bad for taking pride in the things your child is doing, and I don’t want you to feel like that, either. You should be proud! So I will be abstaining from commenting on some subjects. At least untill I heal a little bit. But I am still reading. I’m still there.
I’ve been busy. I’m sorry. I’m a horrible blogger. And the truth? I’m still busy. I honestly have no business creating a long list of catch-up posts when there is so much I should be doing. So I am going to try to catch you up in this one post, if you are still out there.
School: I’ve got a couple more classes under my belt. More A’s. I’ll be finished with my business degree in September. I’ve been working on the MBA applications. More on that in a sec.
Evan: Evan is still…Evan. They’ve changed his meds several times. Some of it has been good and some bad. The bad changes are the ones that had him literally awake for days, dark circles under his eyes, palor. It broke my heart. Until one day when his teacher called and said he fell asleep in school and we had to bring him home and let him sleep for almost 2 days straight, only waking him to get some fluids in him so he didn’t dehydrate. I hate it all and would love more than anything to just be able to take him off of all of them and get them out of his system, but I kow he can’t function without them. Now things are finally looking up. He came home last week, excited and proudly presenting this flyer from school. Turns out they are having baseball sign-ups and Evan wants to play. We signed him up. He’s never played a sport before because he has never shown interest. But we jumped on this, even taking him to get fitted for a glove and bat, getting him training gear. He’ll start practicing here at home this week, since he is too old to play tee-ball, and this is actually pitch baseball.
Zach: Zach was officially assessed at the 12-month level, developmentally speaking. He has started therapy after officially being labeled as developmentally delayed. I had some very overwhelming days where it struck me that I have one child with Asperger’s and another who is DD. I had to get past that to carry on. In the meantime, in absence of any verbal communication, the therapist has started teaching Zachy to sign what he wants. Simple things like “more”, “drink”, “all done”, “eat”, and “help”. He can finally express what he wants to us instead of having a meltdown because we cannot understand his grunts and shouts. And with this development has emerged some attempts to be verbal. He can get the intonation of the syllables of words, but nothing anyone can understand yet. But he is trying, which is more than he was doing a month ago. He continues to be social and adorable and loving. And he is so smart. He can clearly understand anything you say to him. He hs favorite places and knows the routes to those places and will cry if you turn the opposite direction in the car. We just have to catch him up a little bit.
Grad School: I got letters of recommendation from my direct supervisor and department director at work. I wrote a stellar cover letter and drew up a new resume. I had my transcripts sent yesterday. Yet about a month ago, I was having a weak moment, so I scheduled a time to go into my first choice school and speak to them about my potential for admission. I was armed with nothing more than an unofficial printout of my undergrad work. She basically told me there was a very little likelihood that I will be turned away with my academic record. But I have to take that damned GMAT. You may recall that I took two weeks off at the end of January to prepare for and take the test. And then I psyched myself out and wouldn’t do it. That was the low point where I called them and made the appointment. And then I bit the bullet and scheduled the damned thing. And tried and tried to prep for without the advantage of time off from work or school. As a matter of fact, I have finished two more classes and started 2 more in that time frame. I still feel underprepared. My stomach has been in knots for days. As in butterflies and queasiness. The exam is tomorrow. If all goes well, I will be started at one of the top-ranked MBA programs in October. Oh, and that’s another thing: because I went back and did an undergrad business degree and will be fresh from that with immaculate grades, I am elegible for their accelerated program. In other words, they will give me credit for my undergrad and I will only have 8 classes left to my MBA. So by Summer of 2013, I will be an MBA. Yeah. No pressure. I have to get in. Have to. No other options. I even submitted all of the financial stuff for grad school, and at a very expensive private university, I will even have all of that falling into place.
So there you have it. While I haven’t been present in the bloggy world, I’ve been doing plenty. I look forward to catching up on everyone’s blogs and hopw you’ll forgive me for my absence.
Someday, I will have time to make a dent in this 6-inch thick GMAT prep book.
Someday, I will have a day off of work.
Someday, Evan will go back to school.
Someday, Zach will start speaking and stop doing the whining/ grunting/ pointing thing.
Someday, this house will be clean. And neat. And organized.
And I will finish the 1000-page book I started reading out of a lapse in my sanity. Because for some reason, aside from GMAT prep, working like a dog, the questionably Aspergian high maintenance oldest child and the terrible-twos toddler, and all of the other shit I have to get done, I thought I would have time to read the damned thing.
Someday, I’ll relax.
Or maybe finish the apps for grad school.
Or maybe eat a dinner that is home cooked because we had time to cook.
Someday, there will not be sheer chaos in this house.
Someday, I will finish the 50 gazillion blog posts I have started about the different things I wanted to tell you all about but have not have the time to finish. On our Christmas. Or our anniversary. Or Evan’s progress and Zach’s delay.
But not now. Because right now, the tv is blaring, Zach is screaming because he doesn’t have the words or ability to tell John he wants apple juice. I am waiting for a phone call from the developmental interventionalist because I am finally worried about Zach’s speech delay to do something about it. And once I get the call, I have to go through the gu-wrenching possibility that my treatment during the pregnancy did something to him just when I thought it was all okay. And it is finally snowing outside, mixed with a bit of rain and freezing temps that are sure to make my commute a living hell.
And right now, I have to go to work. Again.