Throughout my undergraduate career my success as a parenting student continued to ebb and flow at indistinct intervals. There were semesters when my GPA was as high as a 3.8 and others where I failed a class or two. Sometimes I had plenty of money and other times we went without hot water and heat in our home. Along the way I was forced to tear down bridges with some people that I loved dearly and other times when I had opportunities to build bridges with new and amazing people. I could go on.
Still, there was so much to be proud of at this stage of my life. I was working two jobs (both on campus). I became a PROUD member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., by way of the Epsilon Psi Chapter! I’m going to pause here and be extra. Excuse Me:
To every Soror (sorority sister) who EVER encouraged, supported, bought diapers, baby sat, opened your home, stayed up late, loved, prayed, or cried on my behalf, you are loved! I will FOREVER be grateful for my home, my village, my precious, PRECIOUS E. Psi. OOOOOOOOOO-OOOOOOOOOP to my Sawrahs….
Back to the regularly scheduled programming…
I was an active leader in the campus organization for parenting students. I played a key role in starting a program that offered free evening childcare to parents who wanted to study and do their homework without distraction. I sat on panels and committees to address the needs of pregnant and parenting students at Mizzou. Most importantly, I was coming to the end of my journey as an undergraduate student and the beginning of my journey in graduate school. I was on top of the world but I certainly had not arrived there by myself.
I could not even begin to name the countless people who not only helped me but made personal sacrifices so that Jai and I didn’t go without the things we needed to survive. One of my best friends, Brittney, even opened a credit card so that I could get my car repaired—that’s LOVE!
For the most part, I was fortunate to have people in my life who broke down my pride but left my dignity fully intact when they offered me help. There were friends, family members, sorority sisters, teachers, financial aid advisors, pastors, supervisors, case workers, and others whose shoulders carried me through my undergraduate career.
Though I am not sure it was the healthiest perspective, when I lost the energy to keep going for myself and even after I lost the energy to keep going for my son, I could not ignore the nagging pressure to deliver the outcomes so many people had sacrificed to give me. When I got to the last year of my undergraduate career, I was spent. After years of thinking like this, I was tired of needing people so much. Even though no one caused me to feel this way, I was tired of thinking I owed them my time, energy, and effort and I could not wait to graduate. I had this idea in my head that when I crossed the graduation stage all my problems would magically disappear and my need for such a high level of support would go right along with it. Little did I know that I wasn’t done needing anybody just yet…
This happened…you know, in real life:
I sat in the chair literally shaking with excitement and smiling as hard as my face could manage. I still couldn’t believe that I was about to graduate, let alone start a Master’s program. My new academic advisor seemed just as eager as I was. She returned the smile and asked me questions about my background and experiences. It was such a relief—the small talk did a lot to ease the anxiety and intimidation I felt about starting graduate school.
At some point during our conversation, she handed me a course schedule and asked, in the most casual way, “So, have you picked out any classes?” Neither of us were aware of the fact that she had just loaded a gun with disappointment and aimed it right between my eyes.
Still oblivious and smiling from ear to ear, I glanced down at the paper.
POW-right in the face!
In all of my excitement and praying and interviewing to get into graduate school I did not realize that I had applied for an evening Master’s program. Reality rolled down my head, through my chest and got me right in the heart. I went ballistic.
“I don’t have evening childcare!” I yelled.
She gave me a blank stare. I couldn’t tell if she was collecting her thoughts or regretting their decision to accept me into the program. I didn’t care. To this day, I am not sure when and how I was supposed to know that they only offered evening classes.
We went back and forth about it for about 15 more minutes to no avail and I left feeling defeated by a course schedule and blind optimism. You already know what I did when I got home…I fell apart. Again.
Since I graduated in December 2010 and began my graduate program in January 2011 I didn’t have a lot of time to develop a strategy. I had a couple weeks to figure out how I was going find childcare from 6pm to 10pm every Tuesday and Thursday evening for the next 4 months. Please do not take this for granted. It was not an easy task to complete in a busy college town full of 20-somethings with better things to do with their time than keep my 2 year old son. Even my ride or die baby sitters could not commit to every Tuesday and Thursday evening.
I literally had to make it up as I went along and it was a crazy! Thought it took a couple weeks before I had a consistent group of people watching Jai from one class to the next, eventually it all fell into an extravagant routine:
My sorority sister, Antiana, picked Jai up from daycare and dropped him off with, Cidney, another sorority sister who fed him. Then a completely different sorority sister, named Rachel, picked Jai up from the sorority sister who fed him and put him to bed until I was done with class. I don’t find it ironic that not long after my waltz across the graduation stage I had to take a moment to thank God for the team of supporters I was so ignorantly ready to stop relying on!
This is only one example from one stage of my life where I made it through because of the sacrifices of other people. I was so bent on being my own “Real MVP” that I missed and failed to appreciate the blessing in the hands that supported me along the way.
Needless to say, it was a long and crazy first semester of graduate school but a few things were evident: (1) You need help. Period. (2) If you ever get to a place where you are your own Real MVP, prepare yourself for a crash landing into humility. It’s a dangerous thing to go up against life alone. If you (try to) rise by yourself, even if you make it, there will be no one there to catch you WHEN you fall (3) You never outgrow or out achieve needing help (4) You don’t have to join a sorority but you DO need to find yourself a village. It really does take one to raise a child. (5) Ask a lot of questions before you apply to any program to avoid going off on your advisor when first meeting him or her. They might assume you know they only offer evening classes.
Stay Wonderful 🙂