30 April 2015

Almost finished . . . .

As of right now, I have one exam left in my undergraduate degree.

One!

I submitted my final two papers last night, and I have to admit, it was a bittersweet moment for me.

I feel like I've been doing this whole college thing for so long, it's almost hard to accept that this chapter in my life, this long, over-lapping chapter of many other chapters, is finally going to be over.

Finished. Completed.

It's a bit surreal, really.

I have some studying to do before my final exam early next week, and then the family and I are packing up and driving east to Oklahoma, where I will walk with my graduating class.

I must admit, I am nervous about that.

I've been doing a bit of reflecting on my college career, as long and drawn out as it has been. I remember lots and lots of nights staying late at the Oklahoma City Community College library until it closed, studying, no matter how tired I was. I disciplined myself to stay there every night after class, or on the nights I didn't have class, from the time I arrived after work around 5:30pm until the library closed at 11:00pm. Then I would drive home, fix and eat dinner, go to bed, and wake up at 7:00am to go to work and do it all over again.

I remember my first classes at Rose State College and how excited I was to be at college. I felt all grown up, even though at the time I was 20 and married (to my ex). It wasn't the getting married or buying a house that made me feel grown up; it was attending college. I loved that first English class.

I remember how excited I was to finally be in nursing school, and going to school during the day, like a "real" college student. At the time, I had been in college for four years, but every class had been taken at night or on a Saturday morning. I remember the thrill of walking the college campus and feeling so apart of it all.

I remember sitting in front of the computer for hours on end during my first online classes, my protruding round, pregnant belly making it hard to reach the keyboard comfortably as I typed away on my papers in those two English classes. I loved it though.

I remember falling asleep, face down, on my history text book, high lighter in one hand and pen in the other, on more than one occasion during that semester. It wasn't the history, which I really enjoyed, I was just tired . . .

I remember drawing a very large cell on my white board, located on the wall across from my daybed in my studio apartment, so I could memorize all the features and components of the cell any time I liked.

I remember working two or sometimes three jobs to pay my way through school on the semesters I didn't qualify for student loans. I'd say determination to finish would be an honest assessment of how I felt about school.

I remember crying leaving the Dean of the School of Nursing's office when I told her I was withdrawing from the nursing program because I was pregnant with my first child.

I remember being determined to not let that end my college career, even though it was the end of a dream.

I have so many other memories of my college path, too many really to recount at the moment.

I may have taken a years long break after I had my children, but I remained determined to finish. College was one thing I was absolutely not going to quit.

I knew it would be hard. And it was. I knew it would be a struggle. And it was. But I persevered, by God's grace, I will finish next week.

And now I have almost completed the race. I will be able to stand proudly and say "I did it. I finished. I didn't quit." And I will have finished well.

Though this chapter in academia draws to close, I sense that my career in academia is not over . . . I love it too much. Who knows what the future will bring?

08 April 2015

35 in 365 Update

I haven't updated on my 35 in 365 list in a while! I have been slowly, oh so slowly, working on it and I've been able to get a few things checked off.

Me and Sean Patrick Flannery from Boondock Saints at the ABQ Comic Con in January

Waiting for the Banana Slug String Band at Popejoy Hall Schooltime Series

We also saw "DinoLite" and we have tickets for "Treasure Island"

We went with great friends!

Finally made it the UNM Duck Pond! Why I have never been here before?!?

Finished Lord of the Rings - almost twice! I'm on my second reading for "Return of the King" for school.
Speaking of school - I'm finishing up my last two classes! I've ordered my cap and gown and will be graduating with my degree in four short weeks!

Speaking of graduating, I am taking a trip out to Oklahoma to walk with my graduating class, and while I'm there I'm going to catch up with my wonderful, cherished friends - can't wait to see them!

I'm registered to run a 5K in May! One other 5K and I'll have that completed.

Heading to the ABQ Art Museum this Saturday with the tickets I won on the radio! Thank you KHFM Classical Radio Albuquerque!

Clothing project is in final stage of completion - dropping stuff for donation this week, after selling several items at the New Mexico Kids Consignment Sale this past fall and spring!

I've been to White Sands Missile Range twice in the past month, but I'm not sure if I'm counting that one or not. I went to the southern end of White Sands to watch Mike compete in the Bataan Death March Memorial and we visited the Trinity Site as a family. However, when I put that goal, I was thinking white sand dunes at the National Monument, so that one is debatable for now . . .

I have plans to visit Bisti De Na Zin and Four Corners with Sierra, but that isn't until June . . . can't wait though!!

Do you have a goal list that you are working towards? Or a bucket list of places to see?

01 April 2015

Feeling Like an Imposter

Today the Special Needs Fair took place on base. The children and I got dressed and headed over (it's Spring Break - who says you can't stay in your pajamas until noon?). For once, the kids acted like perfect little angels.

As I wandered from booth to booth with my gaggle of children (is three a gaggle??) gathering brochures and making small talk with various representatives from everything from ABA Therapy to Music Programs for kids with special needs, I couldn't help but feel like an imposter.

Do I belong in this world of families with a child dealing with special needs?

The test results say I do. The behavior issues say I do. The feelings of being cut off from a sense of normalcy in some regards for my oldest child say I do. The school says I do.

I couldn't help but notice the glances I got as some of the representatives looked at my very well-behaved children (trust me, this is not a normal occurrence - the good behavior, that is), as if they were thinking, "What are you doing here, lady?"

In the past I feel like I have been judged by moms whose kids visibly have special needs when I speak up and say I deal with struggles too. Their looks say, "She looks perfectly fine - what could you possibly be dealing with??"

It seems that being a mom in this day and age is a cut throat business full of judging and competition. I admit I have been guilty of that, especially when my kids were much younger, but I've really tried to stay away from that for a long while now. It's so defeating.

And yet, even after the struggle to get Butterfly to use her words, to understand her, the super-long screaming tantrums, the struggle with homework (which we no longer do, thankfully), the struggle to get her to even associate with her siblings, let alone her peers, I still feel like people wonder what I'm talking about when I say I have a child with special needs. Like I'm crazy or something.

Only I know that I'm not. The struggle is real. It's hard. I cry. Butterfly cries. We endured a seemingly grueling therapy schedule for a year before she started Kindergarten and got therapy at school. I guess twice a week isn't too bad, I have friends who have twice as much therapy, or more, but being at therapy at 8:00 in the morning with three small children age three and under was really, really hard.

During that time I felt simultaneously emotionally stifled and exploding, reeling with a new diagnosis and all that it entailed, horrified that I hadn't realized so much sooner, feeling like an awful mom, struggling just to make it through each day before arriving in bed at the end of said day completely toasted, emotionally.

I feel like I'm caught between two worlds: the world of kids who are "normal" and the special needs world. Butterfly can dress herself (although she didn't do this until she was over four), she can feed herself, she does talk. It isn't until you start asking her questions and talk to her, on a more-than-superficial-level, that you begin to see her language processing disorder come out.

And yet, if you just looked at her, of casually talked to her, or observed her on the playground, you probably wouldn't be able to tell that she's special needs.

I feel like I'm alone in this. I have friends who children are on the autism spectrum disorder and I feel like they go through so much more than I do. The same with my friend whose child has apraxia. I can relate, but I can't. Butterfly doesn't have autism or apraxia. She has a language processing disorder and global developmental delays.

She's making progress in school, but not enough progress. She's improving, but not at the rate that she should be, whatever that means. After we had an IEP meeting before Christmas to discuss Butterfly's progress in school (which was nil in the general ed class with only six hours of special ed per week), her teachers and I thought it best to move Butterfly to the special ed class for all subjects except pull outs (art, PE, etc).

I guess I just feel lost. Sometimes at the end of the day I feel emotionally raked over the coals from battles with Butterfly. And I'm sure she feels the same way.

I accepted this new normal a long time ago. But that doesn't make the struggle any less.