Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Big Day

In about four hours "comencement" (sadly indoors) will begin. And that's about how many hours (maybe) I got of uninterrupted sleep last night, because my body is just on high alert--high alert for awesomeness. Because, I'm graduating people--freaking graduating.

In a lot of ways, I felt like this day would never come. It was, when I started college nearly five years ago (go Supah Seniors!!), a day that was very far away, with lots of things packed inbetween. I guess I never really knew how much...

Since starting college I've:
  • Lived in four different places (including the residence halls for a year)
  • Read, literally, over a thousand poems, books, plays, and research articles (and honestly, for an English person, that's probably not much)
  • Gotten engaged
  • Made new friends and reaffirmed strong friendships with the old
  • Got my first 100 for a final math grade...ever
  • Been married
  • Never had a GPA below 3.5 (currently just over 3.7--Magna Cum Laude)
  • Had a baby
  • Started to learn where my passions lie and started to seriously consider what I need to be doing with my life
  • Probably started about a dozen blogs and journals
  • Got a house
  • Become even more ridicuously awesome :-)
It's been a busy five years, to say the least. I still can't quite grasp that all that time has ellapsed (didn't we just finish presenting senior projects in the high school forum?), but at the same time, I know when I look at myself, look at everything I have right here with me (my wonderful sleeping husband and daughter, to start with), I see how much has changed, how much I've changed, and that I've more than started to move beyond that person I began this journey as. Five years may have felt like a long time, occasionally, but honestly, I've got a lot done, and done well, in a lot of respects.

I didn't just go to college, I went and kicked its ass.

(Sorry if this sound overly congratulatory--I figured I deserved it, if just for today :-) )

My only regret, and it's not really a regret, more like an observation, is that I sometimes went through this time in my life with only the end in sight. Sometimes this was a time I just needed to "get through." And now I'm through. And yes, I have a lot experiences that I'll cherish, that I will remember fondly, that I'll turn to for inspiration or knowledge, but I sometimes wonder if I should've stopped more often, to fully realize where I was and what I was doing. And now I'm at the end, and while some things are (thankfully) falling into place, my future slowly starting to become visible through the fog, other things are still unclear. It's a tiny bit like running, running, running, with an end in mind, and suddenly stumbling to a stop because you've reached an cliff edge. You have to stop and think at this point, and that's what I plan to do. Stop, think, and most importantly, maybe enjoy the view from that cliff edge. I've gotten a lot done and now it's time to breathe.

I would also be remiss in not mentioning this last bit. There are a lot of different things that contributed to my success in college. Obviously I worked hard, but sometimes hard work can only get you so far, and when you're starting a family, a lot goes into that.

First, there is my husband. Whatever I might tell him, he's amazing. There is no way this would have happened if he hadn't been him, an incredible husband and father and supporter. He may not "get" my OCD when it comes to school work or my desire to do well or that I do actually have to work hard to do as well as I do (he has told me on several occasions to "relax, you'll get an A anyway"...he's the only person I know who can ruin an A for me ;-) ).

Then there is my family, primarily my parents, who have stood by me through all my decisions (good and bad), supported me emotionally and financially at times, and who have been the people who, besides myself, I have worked so hard for. Like so many kids, I wanted to make my parents proud, and I hope I've done that.

I also need to thank my grandparents, all four of them, though only one is still around to see me graduate. My grandma Mahoney, who passed away when I was eight, is my guardian angel. She has never not been a presence in my life, and when things feel like they're going south, I know she is standing there beside me, holding my hand, giving me guidance. My dad's parents, like they pressed my father, they pressed me to do well. They bought me my first laptop. My grandmother, even as she was dying (like, literally dying), wanted to see my Practicum portfolio and was asking me about school. They are THE American dream, the children of desperately poor immigrants from Eastern Europe, they busted their asses to create a prosperous life for themselves, and if it were not for them, much of my success and comfort, present and future, would not be possible. They are my heroes, I love them so much, and while I know, somewhere, somehow they're going to be able to see me graduate (probably on some solid, practically purchased television, catching me grabbing my diploma between a Red Sox game and a bowling tournament, up in heaven), it breaks my heart a tiny bit that I can't actually call them with the good news. And finally, my grandpa Mahoney, who, THANK GOD is here for the event (because this was questionable a few weeks ago). He is my inspiration (another perfect example of the American dream). He has been a teacher, he has helped raise a family while working his butt off, he has been supportive and kind and thoughtful. He has been the model grandfather. When I think of what I want to be when I grow up, I want to be my grandpa (but the girl version).

I also need to say that my extended family, aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws have been amazing. It's kind of awesome to have that sort of cheering crowd. They have only ever been supportive, offering up words of encouragement and wisdom and subjecting themselves (at least a few) to probing interviews for whatever education class I have that semester that needs me to talk to someone. Thank God they have all been here.

I must also mention my friends, both fellow college students and my friends from home. Yes, support and love abound, but also babysitters. Holy crap, the babysitters. You guys...Weird hours, sporatic pay, messy homes (which a could CLEANED for me, because their awesome), and always sympathetic. Totally and utterly lost without them all.

Lizzie's daycare--the sweetest, kindest person I could ask for (at the best possible rate!) has watched my daughter for the last two school years. She has been fabulous and I'll be sad to not be able to send Lizzie there (and Lizzie will be sad, too!). It has been great to know Lizzie is in a positive, safe environment, and it's been nice to know I can go and pick her up, flop down on the couch and bitch about school or have a nice chat about Star Wars (geeks unite!).

My university professors have also been ridicuously awesome and understanding. I have not had one professor give me crap about any of the extra craziness in my life. I have been able to, in a pinch, bring Lizzie to a class (and because of this, I'm sure she's attended more college classes than some seniors did this past semester...). I've had professors who openly claim to dislike small children melt at the sight of my daughter and delight in her presence. I've had professors take my fussing baby and walk her in the hall as our class finished up a discussion. I've had professors work their schedules around mine, inquire after my little girl, ask me to bring her by, and just be generally supportive and understanding of the fact that their class is not the only thing going on in my life.

And finally, all the community resources we've utilized. From programs through the hospital, Community Concepts, the Children's Task Force, WIC, etc.--these programs have made it possible for me to graduate, to make my life a bit less stressful, and helped me become a better parent. I truly wish I could go to every person who helps run and fund these programs and give them huge hugs and a million bucks a piece, because that's how much their worth (plus some) to me.

Okay, that was a long, gushy entry, but it feels good to write down. And now I'm going to go shower, eat some breakfast (if that's possible) and get ready to GO!

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