I can't believe how long it's been since I've blogged! I think one of my New Year's resolutions will be to keep up with my blog. Or, at least post more often than once every 2 years.
I don't know how many people actually read my blog. In case anyone does, I'll give a little update/synopsis of life in the Graham household.
In May of 2012, I finally graduated from college. My feelings on this are divided. Sure, I'm proud that I can now call myself a college graduate, even though it's an Associate's degree in General Studies, which has very little use in the employment field. On the other hand, I started college in 1999. Or was it 1998? Yeah, I think it was 1998, because I had to go to class on my wedding day (I got married on a Friday night) because my professor wouldn't accept, "I'm getting married today," as a reason to miss class. What I'm saying is, it took me 14 years to get my 2 year degree. Here's how it went down:
1998- I took my first "real" full course load at VWCC, all core courses, because I had NO idea which career path I was interested in. I took the AP/dual enrollment English class my senior year of high school, so according to VWCC, I enrolled in September of 1996. Geez, my time at VWCC gets longer, and longer, and longer. Anyway, I finished my first semester in December of 1998 and had to take the next semester off because Hunter, my oldest, was born in April of 1999. I figured having a newborn and taking finals wouldn't go well together, so I took the semester off.
I went back in August of 1999 and decided it would be "fun" to take a Drawing I class as one of my electives. Never mind that I can't draw stick figures accurately...I get these bright ideas (or at least I think they're bright), and nothing can convince me it's a bad idea until there's an epic fail. Drawing I WAS an epic fail, and I sucked at it (I think I made a C). My instructor really didnt' like me for some reason. BUT, one good thing was, I loathed my totally insane drawing instructor, and so did this hilarious girl sitting beside me in drawing class. That hilarious girl was named Bryana, who to this day is still a friend of mine. I took 2 or 3 more semesters off when I went back to work full-time. I got pregnant with my 2nd son and ended up being a SAHM, so I decided to try and take a few more classes. Bryana and I both decided, when we were both over halfway finished with our degrees, it would be super fun if we tried for a Communication Design degree. Never mind that, in addition to lack of drawing skills, I lacked doing anything creative on the computer, and I had no idea how to use a Mac, which is what ALL Comm Design classes use. I took comm Design classes for I don't even know how many more semesters. I took Art History classes, which turns out I really loved taking, Typography, and some graphic design classes. I realized Graphic Design wasn't for me, so I looked into my options and realized I only had a few classes left to get my General Studies degree. By this time, I was in my mid-20's and just wanted to get it over with. Most of my classes left I was able to take via distance learning, which was good for me because finding time to take classes when you have 2 kids and you're working part-time...you get the idea.
I worked my butt off taking my distance learning classes. I was also fertile Myrtle and was pregnant with my 3rd kiddo. Bryana and I took Biology 101 Hybrid together when I was pregnant with Arissa. I had labs one Saturday a month for 4 months. I went to my last Biology lab 8 months pregnant, and took my Biology final 3 weeks before my due date. She was born January 10, 2004, so I took that semester off, which had to be an act of God, because Arissa was born with health problems and was hospitalized 7 times in her first year. I stupidly went back in August of 2004 and took more distance learning classes. That semester was the worst semester for me, because I had to keep up with a 5 year old, a 2 (and by October, a 3) year old, and a very sick girl who was in the hospital 3 times that semester. I was fortunate to have teachers who were flexible with me; I mean, what do you say to a student who calls and says, "I can't come in and take my test, because my baby is in the hospital and I can't leave her"? I finished that semester and I was burned out. Even though I only had 6 credits left to graduate, I couldn't handle school any more.
2004 was a hellish year for me, and I was physically and emotionally burned out. Although Arissa's health issues weren't life-threatening, to ensure that she would grow and thrive, I was dealing with 3 doctors, weekly weight check-ups, bolus feedings, g-tube feedings, apnea monitors, monitors going off multiple times nightly, numerous hospitalizations for failure to thrive, a hospitalization from c-diff, corrective surgery for her, and then accusations that I was intentionally causing her to not gain weight. School was the last thing I cared about. I was burned out and decided to stop going after my December 2004 semester.
I went back to school the summer of 2011. I talked to my Academic adviser and found out that I did NOT have to take a Math class I thought I had to take. Because I had taken so, so, so many classes in my various changes in majors, one of those many, many, many classes could be substituted for my Math class. I only had 4 credits needed to complete my General Studies degree. WOO-HOO! So, the summer of 2011, I took my last class: Biology 102. I took my final exam on my 32nd birthday. A couple months later, I got the letter from VWCC stating I had completed all the necessary courses and could apply for graduation. At first, I wasn't going to go to graduation, because I think it's ridiculous that it took me as long as it did to get a 2 year degree, and I was embarrassed to make a huge show of it. After being urged by family and friends, I decided to go through with it. Here I am with my diploma. I had a lot of family and friends come to watch me walk across the stage, and I appreciate everyone who came and cheered for me.
When I try to explain why I don't think graduating is a big deal, I hear a lot of responses of assurance. "You were raising a family and working. Of course it took you longer than normal." I know it's bad to compare myself to anyone else, but I can't help but think about the fact that somewhere out there, there are people whose situations were/are a million times worse than mine who put themselves through college at a faster pace. Single moms with absolutely no help working full-time and taking college courses. Kids who worked 2 jobs so they could afford tuition while going to school full-time. Even recent high school graduates who worked and went to school. I was just an indecisive person who changed majors, took time off, then got burned out and almost quit. And I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.
It turns out this blog post ended up being all about me, which wasn't my intention. To keep this blog post from turning into a novel, I shall say...To be continued...