Elle was really excited when I told her I was going to start college in January.
"Ooooh, Mom! That's wonderful that you're going to college for the first time!"
The first time?? Child, where have you been since you were...um, born? Do you not remember the tears and screams and bloody clumps of hair in my fists as I struggled with Algebra at the breakfast table two years ago? Do you not remember the twirly-eyed zombie look on my face as I fought off writer's block for a 6-page research paper in World Religions? What about the first four years of your life as you spent every Saturday afternoon at the Regency Mall's Playplace where you barreled your way through the day, exerting a ton of energy and content to jump on plastic dolphins while I pretended to watch you very carefully (when I was really studying Early American Literature)? Thankfully you were such a well-behaved little girl and surrounded by a waist-high wall with only one exit. That mall helped me earn a spot on the Dean's List.
Life has been good since last December when I got my Associates's Degree. I buy books because I want to. And I read them for fun. I started a blog so I could write about whatever I felt like writing about. And I write for fun. I learned how to enjoy going to bed before 2am. Sleeping is very fun.
I'm not looking forward to this whole school thing again.
I'm broke and tired. But mostly tired. Financial aid decided I was poor enough so they're helping out a bit. A big bit. My decision to go back to school was pretty much decided by my ability to obtain financial aid. I've paid out of pocket for classes before so that I didn't lose momentum. Let's hope I don't have to do that again. But I think I would if I had to.
Two more years, I'm telling myself. Two more years of being tired. I'm going to be tired anyway so I might as well do something useful while the insomnia cranks away at me. If I can knock this whole program out in 6 semesters, I'll have a Bachelor's Degree under my Christmas tree in 2011.
I think it's good for us, both of us. Elle will see me working hard for this degree, she'll see me struggle and get pissed off and want to quit. Of this, I'm sure. And she'll see me walk away, take a break, grab a coffee, and fight my way back in. She's at that age level when schoolwork becomes more challenging, difficult and seems nearly impossible sometimes to understand. She'll know it's okay for her to walk away, take a break, get her mom some more coffee, and fight her way back in.
Anxiety has already reared its ugly head and I'm already in the process of grieving. Yes, it sounds dramatic, but I'll be losing the freedoms that I've known in my life for the last twelve months. My life of studying, crying, catnapping, and studying some more is returning and I'm not looking forward to it.
My mother mentioned over the weekend that she doesn't think I'll be able to handle school with everything going on in my life: full-time job, single motherhood, Tuesday night gymnastics, Thursday night Girl Scouts. I did it before and I have no choice but to do it again. Time will be strictly monitored, each hour of my day will have to be devoted to one thing and one thing only so that nothing gets thrown aside, forgotten, or neglected. I defended my decision to return to school for my Bachelor's degree by reminding my mother that, at my current rate of stalled success, I'll be living with her forever.
"No," she said. "I'm not worried about your abilities to get this done. I'm concerned with your personality."
Apparently, nobody likes me when I'm in college since I tend to become overwhelmed, short-tempered, and just an overall bitch. So believe it or not, this last year may have possibly been the most pleasant I've ever been to my family since 1997.
"It's only for two more years. I'll try to be nicer to everyone and then I can move out," I promised.
Just the prospect alone of me moving out of their house has my parents putting on their Tolerant faces and replaying the moment in their heads when I said "...I can move out."
This can only end well for all of us. And Elle will now have a homework buddy.