You know, when a man is in college, it isn’t considered a selfish pursuit at all; he is working on building the foundation for a lucrative career that will eventually provide for himself and his current or future family. What I am doing is no different, except the focus for me is on ME becoming a person that I can be proud of and who can support herself.
A huge side benefit is that I hope to be able to provide all of my children, most of whom are adults already, with greater opportunities and more practical support. I am NOT doing this for my children, though. And there is absolutely no guilt or self-condemnation over that declaration.
I have been completely immersed in school this semester. I mentioned in a previous post that I joined the honor society agreeing to serve as an officer, and added two days each week to my on-campus presence due to my involvement in the college newspaper. What little time and energy I had for my family evaporated quickly. I don’t feel the least bit guilty about this.
No, I don’t have an involved parental partner. No, I didn’t hire a nanny (though my kids are way too old for nannies). No, I didn’t abandon my family and move away so that I could do whatever I like whenever I like.
I am still holding everything together by sheer willpower here in Connecticut. I am squeezing my eyes tightly shut and making wishes and saying prayers that somehow this all works out.
I dare to want more and will do what it takes to get more.
It has been a very stressful semester for me because of the added responsibilities. It has been worth every second of anxiety I experienced.
This deeper level of involvement in campus life has brought me into contact with some of the most amazing young people and equally amazing faculty and staff. It has been unimaginably rewarding. My unconscious has concerns, though.
I woke up a few days ago with the lingering effects of an anxiety dream. I had dreamed that I failed to complete and submit my final research paper for Advanced Composition. It was as though my subconscious was considering the consequences of giving up at this stage in my education. Because that is exactly what not turning in that paper would be to me: giving up.
This dream haunted me, even caused some fear, but it wasn’t irrational fear at all. Every day that I get up and drive to school, every moment I spend making my brain read one more “scholarly source” from the college’s databases, every time I force myself to sit at the computer and write or study or learn, I am refusing to give up. This level of intensity exacts a price from my emotional and physical reserves.
This semester has been a wake-up call. I am looking at four-year universities. I am trembling in my boots. I am not just taking classes, I am committed to getting a bachelors degree at the least, and really want to attend graduate school as well.
I have faced many demons this semester. When looking at Austin colleges, I initially rejected the University of Texas because a friend of mine had been murdered there. When I admitted this to one of my English professors, that fear saw the light and I could face it head on. I am now considering UT.
I have a variety of health issues, one of which is a new weakness in my legs and shortness of breath after even the slightest exertion. I worried that I wouldn’t even be able to walk to classes on a larger college campus, so I was looking at small colleges.
Then I realized that I need to pursue getting a handicapped parking permit. See? So much anxiety and so many concerns, none of which are imaginary. My anxiety was caused by real obstacles that I needed to address.
That dream was definitely important to this process. I will not give up. That paper is written, and is a strong paper. I will turn it in on time and, hopefully, get a good grade. I spent eight hours on a single paper yesterday, and revised another paper this morning. Then I transcribed an interview with one of the college’s deans for an article I am writing for the college newspaper.
My body might be getting weaker, by my will is getting stronger. My selfish pursuits are mine. I own them and I validate them.
I am learning the importance of female selfishness, if you want to call it that. After spending my entire adulthood, from age 18 to 51, pouring myself out in service to others, giving up what I wanted for the health and welfare of my family, I am doing what I want (at least in one area of my life). What gall, what daring, what…whatever.
Women have been judged … well, always, whenever they pursued what they wanted to pursue. I am happy that I am a part of the populace that rejects that myth about women (a salute to my Mythology professor), that there is something wrong with those who pursue their dreams.
I am immersed in school. My children (adult and minor alike) are being told they must wait until I am able, have time, can do what they want me to do. I come first right now, and rightly so.
Never for a second think that my minor child’s needs are not being met. I pick him up from school three times a week (or send his older brother to do so) so that he can participate in track club and the school’s jazz band. I make sure that he has healthy food, gets his homework done, does his laundry each week (I have difficulty carrying laundry up and down the stairs, so each of my children does their own laundry — why not?), cleans his room, and feeds the cats. I ask him to accompany me shopping once a week so that he gets undivided attention. I communicate with his teachers, holding them accountable for honoring his 504 Plan. I am involved and responsible. Amazing that I can be a mother and go to school. Amazing how that works out.
Happy Mother’s Day all of you powerful, pursuing, ambitious mothers!