I am a college graduate. I have a bachelor's degree in elementary education with a minor in art. It's something that I worked very hard to achieve, and I am proud of the fact that I made it. During my school years I had a child and was a single parent. My child was very ill, for much of the time I was in school. We spent many weeks in the hospital where my son lay under tents trying to stay alive. It was not an easy task, for either of us. Early in the morning I would drop him off at daycare, attend my classes, go to my teaching experiences, then pick him up around dinnertime to spend a few hours playing before bath and bedtime. While he slept, I studied, or later, made my class schedules and prepared my lessons. We were busy, but we did okay. My grades were excellent, considering, and I sincerely enjoyed my classes once I got into my area of study.

I also had some night classes. These I did not enjoy. It was tough enough to find a daycare open during the day, let alone babysitters or a daycare during the evening. But I searched them out and found sitters who took my son in during these evening classes. None of these turned out to be good experiences. Though I loved our regular daycare and felt very secure and safe with my son there, the babysitters gave me a sense of discomfort. At the time, I had no choice. If I were to do it again, I would have searched further.

One evening daycare was a place that was also a daycare during the day. It was in a family home, but the family was less than stellar. Though the lady who cared for my son seemed kind, her own adult children living with her were less than appropriate. They drank, smoked, and were in jail for one thing or another. The lady also cared for her grandchild, a little girl who had criminal parents and was placed in grandma's care. Whenever I picked Kaeden up from her care. he seemed happy enough, but I always felt a tiny niggling doubt in the back of my mind. Something just wasn't quite up to par. I never did figure out what it was as I went with my gut instinct and found a new childcare provider.

This was in the form of a highschool girl living in our appartment complex. In the beginning, I really loved her. She came to play with Kaeden even on her 'off' hours, and we became friends, going shopping together, going to movies. Her own mom was a single working mother, so she found a place with me when she had noone else to turn to. It was a good thing, and I knew I could trust my son with her. I paid her well, and she enjoyed having her own spending money.

The problems started when she started dating a guy. He changed her. He would often come along to babysit, and Kaeden took a real liking to the guy. He was a bit older than our sitter, and had his own car. They asked if they could take Kaeden out for dinner, to go to the park. At first, I said no, but as I got to know them more, I allowed them short outings. However, one night I came home late from my class, when Kaeden should have been long in bed. The house was dark, and they were nowhere to be found. I went all over the apartment complex asking if they knew where my son was. There was no note, no phone call, and his car seat was still in the house. Brandi and her boyfriend showed up finally, just about the time I was planning to call the police. I let them have it as I held my son half-asleep in my arms. They were no longer allowed to take Kaeden out, and Brandi's boyfriend was no longer allowed to come over while she was working. Our relationship also changed, and she no longer liked me as much due to my becoming so hard. We quit doing things together, and our relationship turned into a working one.

One evening, I came home a bit early as I had an exam and finished early. When I got home, I saw my son watching tv on the couch and just a foot away from him were Brandi and her boyfriend doing more than just making out on the couch. I threw them outside, along with their clothes, and never saw her again. Not even around the apartment complex. I took her last pay to her mother, and discussed the situation with her. They moved shortly thereafter.

It was tough. But we made it through, my son and I.

A few days back my mom and I were discussing my cousin, who graduated from high school this year. She will be attending college and we were discussing what college means. I was 17 when I started attending college. I was not ready. My grades were horrible and I did a lot of partying. I lived in a dorm and then house with other college students. It was fun and adventurous, but studying did not fit in my calendar of events. I eventually dropped out and went on to New York to be a nanny and play and enjoy and explore. When I returned to school, I was 21 and went parttime. When I was 23 I had Kaeden, and when I was 24 I got serious. My little boy gave me the opportunity to find myself and know I had to make a life for him. I chopped down and my grades were perfect. I enjoyed my classe and loved teaching. I had finally found the place I belonged.

My mom never went to college. My dad did, while I was in high school. My mom regrets not going, and talking to her a few days back was the first time I ever knew this. She has had what I consider a successful life. She raised a family and created a successful business. She wishes she had attended school.

I am proud of my degree and all I went through to receive it. However, I have not been able to put it to use living her ein Europe. It frustrates me. But I know that what I accomplished was something big, and I feel pride within myself for doing so. And pride that I now am a stay-at-home mom so my children don't have to keep up with the demands of a lfying schedule. They come and go and mama is always there to give them security. One day, i will use my degree in the field. Today, I am using it to be smart enough to give my boys what they need, before life overcomes them and they have to start making adult decisions of their own.


V-Grrrl said...

It's good to revisit those times in our lives when we overcame big obstacles and accomplished something against all odds. It's easy to look back and only see the mistakes we made and not see all the things we got right. I sympathize with the babysitting stories. Getting and keeping a good sitter is so, so hard. I never had an experience as bad as yours though! I'm glad Kaeden wasn't hurt.

Jade said...

Honey you SHOULD be proud of your education. I am in awe of women who have children and are able to get higher education. I did it with no children and it was hard.

Tera, you should not only be proud of your education, you should be proud of YOU. You are one of the most amazing people I know and I only know about10% of who you really are. I also know that I dont tell you enough just how amazing you are.And I"m pretty sure you dont see it in yourself.

Tera, you have overcome SOOO many things in life so far and you continue to move forward. I know its not always easy, and sometimes it nearly feels impossible, but you do it!

And with time, the universe may present a way for you find a profession with your education, but in the mean time, please know that it wasn't in vain. All of the educational and personal growth that was done during your college years is still being used in your day to day life in many different ways. If you would like a list of how I see it playing out in your life please let me know. I would be more than happy to make one for you. :-)

I am so proud of you as a person, a mother, a daughter and a friend. Keep your head high tera, you've earned it!

lora said...

As I have told you a number of times, you are INCREDIBLE!! I am so glad to call you a friend! And this is coming from an old lady..ha ha ha. Life is a journey, and your's has taken you far. Enjoy those boys. Too soon they grow up.