Another Try

Last week I received my grade for the administration course I took over the summer.  I got an A.  While an A may not be a big deal for some, for me it’s a huge accomplishment. As a matter of fact, I have gotten all A’s since I re enrolled in college a year ago.

My previous college experience was filled with learning, but most of the learning came in the form of “life experiences”. Although I wanted to be successful at college, I never was.  As I look back at college grades I wish I knew now what I didn’t know then.  The truth is I didn’t know how to be a good student.  It would be easy for me to blame a number of other things on my lack luster grades, but I won’t. Not until recently did I realize the value of truly learning the information I was studying.  Getting an A in class is more than a grade.  It’s a reflection of effort and with that effort comes learning.

Being hard of hearing had an influence on my college experience.  Lecture classes weren’t a good fit for me.  When required to sit in a class and listen to a lecture my focus was on making sure I heard the information correctly. Sadly, often I didn’t.  I often heard things incorrectly or not at all.  Getting hearing aids in college was helpful, but still it was a struggle.

I became successful with my career despite having mediocre grades in college.  I worked hard and took a hands on approach to learning.  My system worked for many years.  However, when I returned to work, after being home for many years, one thing that changed in my field was each time you apply for a job you must supply a copy of your college transcripts.  Years ago this wasn’t the case.  Back then I provided employers a copy of my resume and references, but never transcripts.

Handing over my transcripts from a college has always been uncomfortable  The grades from years ago don’t represent the person I am today. When I applied for my most recent job I did something I’ve never done before.  I handed over two sets of transcripts.  One set reflected the student I was thirty years ago and the other reflected the student I am today.  I told my new employer I am not the young college student from 30 years ago.  I shared what I’ve learned over the years, my values, and what I had to offer.  I told them the second set of transcripts reflects the person I am today, a person who is capable of being a strong student.

My approach worked.  I got the job.  The way a person looks on paper doesn’t always reflect who the person really is. I knew I had things to offer an employer, but a piece of paper reflected otherwise.

Now I have a new piece of paper that reflects something different…my willingness to learn new things, continue to grow and to try again.

Guy Talk

A conversation between a mother and a little boy.

Mother and little boy are sitting on carpet.  Little boy is putting on his shoes.

I can’t get my shoes on.  It hurts.” – Little Boy

Mother looks at shoes.

“They’re too small.  We’ll need to pick up some new ones this weekend.” – Mother

“We need to get some new underwear too.  I want to start wearing boxers.”- Little Boy

“Excuse me?  Boxers?  You mean boxer briefs?” – Mother

“Yeah.  I don’t want to wear underwear anymore.  I want to wear boxers.” – Little Boy

“Really?  Why?” – Mother

“I’m big now.  I’m the only one who lives here and still wears underwear.” – Little Boy

“I wear underwear.  I live here.” – Mother

“You’re a girl, Mom.  Girls wear underwear and men wear boxers.  I’m not a baby anymore.  It’s time.” – Little Boy

“You will always be my baby”.  – Mother

Mother kisses little boy on the head.

You mean no cartoon characters on your underwear anymore?” – Mother

“Well… maybe we can find some boxers with superheros on them.  That would still be cool, right? – Little Boy

“Yeah, it’s cool.  Maybe I could get some too?” – Mother

“Mom, don’t talk about wearing boxers.  It’s guy talk.” – Little Boy

Doing What Matters Most

I’ve enrolled in summer school.  Summer school goes against everything summer is supposed to be about.  The reason I signed up for summer school is so I can finish my college course work earlier. It seemed like a good idea when I signed up, but now that I’m doing the work I’m not sure.

Six months ago I left my job.  I enrolled in college to finish educational requirements toward obtaining a child development permit to further my career.  The class I’m taking this summer is the last of the administration classes needed for the permit.  However, instead of looking for work, I’ve decided to continue with more child development classes.

Not looking for work wasn’t a decision I made lightly.  Our family is able to manage on one income, but it’s not easy.  Each month we make decisions financially on things we can and can’t pay for.  If I work things would be easier financially.   I’d like to work, but finding a job that fits the needs of my family and myself is proving difficult.

I’ve looked for work since I left the old job.  I’ve had several interviews and job offers.  However, each time I need to make a decision whether to take the job, something doesn’t seem right.  My gut instinct tells me it would cause more stress than it’s worth.  Although my family doesn’t have the money we’d like, but our stress level is lower and overall we are happier.

My instincts have rarely led me astray.  The times I haven’t listened to it is when I usually get in trouble.  My gut says to wait until my youngest son is older or find a job that’s flexible enough to support his needs.  If I was the mother of only two teenagers and didn’t have a little eight year old boy, I’d be working.  I like working and I’m good at it.  But being available for my little child is more important. Not everyone has the opportunity to be able to be home for their child. I’m blessed to be able to have an option.

The truth is, childhood goes fast..alarmingly fast.  Old Boy leaves for college in a few weeks and I still think of him as a little boy in the stroller, at the zoo.  I’ve been fortunate to have been home each day to care for him.  I’m glad I had the opportunity.  Any sacrifices I’ve made have been worth it.  I’m willing to do the same for Little Boy.

I would have never predicted eighteen years ago I would be doing the same job, but it’s a good job.  Maybe the best job and to me I’m doing work that what matters most.

Yo

A conversation between a teenager and a mother.

Mother walks out of bathroom.  Mother picks up cell phone.  Mother reads text messages from teenage son.

“Hey, Mom.  Can I head to the beach with friends today?” – Tall Boy

“Hello?” – Tall Boy

“Hellloooo?”  Tall Boy

“Yo answer ur phone.  Its not that hard.” – Tall Boy

Mother glares at phone.  Mother types text response.

“Yo.  I was in the bathroom drying my hair and my hearing aids were off.  I couldn’t hear the phone.” – Mother

“Oh. No damage.  Can I go?” – Tall Boy

“Yo, no” – Mother

Leave it at That

A conversation between a mother and a teenage son.

Boy is sitting at computer.  Boy calls to mother to come near him.

Mom.  Mom, can you come here?” – Tall Boy

“I’m cooking dinner right now.  Can you wait?” – Mother

“No.  It’s important.  I want to show you something.” – Tall Boy

“How important?  If it’s one of those motorized car videos I will pass.”  – Mother

“No, it’s something else.  Come on, Mom.” – Mother

“Okay.  Jeez. ” – Mother

Mother walks over to son.  Mother looks at son.

Well?” – Mother

“Look.” – Tall Boy

Son points to computer screen.  Mother looks at computer screen.

Are those your grades?” – Mother

Yes.” – Tall Boy

“Wow. That’s amazing.  Good for you.”- Mother

“Thanks, Mom.” – Tall Boy

I want you to know your Dad and I are very proud of you.  You’ve come a long way.  Things weren’t always easy for you or for us, but now look at you.  We support you 100%.  Well, almost 100%.  I guess it’s more like 95%, because if you get arrested and go to jail we won’t support you.  We expect you to stay out of jail and be an honorable citizen. So, don’t screw up.  Stay the path you’re on now and things will be fine.  Better than fine.  They’ll be great.  Super great.  College is coming soon, so do your best.  Do you understand what I’m trying to say?” – Mother

Mother kisses son on the head.

“Um…thanks, Mom.  I think.  Next time I show you my grades could you just say well done and leave it at that?” – Tall Boy

Because

This morning Little Boy asked me to pick him up and carry him in my arms.  While we were walking in the hallway of his school a parent asked, “Isn’t he too big to be carried like that?”  I looked at her and smiled, but said nothing.  I just kept walking with my eight year old boy in my arms.  Why did I carry my little son in my arms, when he is perfectly capable of walking by himself?  Because…

Because he asked me to.

Because I didn’t have anything else in my arms.

Because we weren’t late for school and had the time.

Because I am strong enough to still carry him.

Because I won’t always be strong enough to carry him.

Because one day he will stop asking me.

Because I realize how quickly children grow up, as I deal with Old Boy leaving for college soon.

Because it’s a loving gesture to hold someone close, as I deal with a father who is ill and I may not have as many times to hold him as I would like.

Because he is still a little boy and eight years old isn’t so big.

Because I don’t care if someone thinks I am enabling him.

Because I love my boy. Love that consumes me sometimes and I want to express it.

Because when I pick him up he puts his warm cheek next to mine and I remember why I love children so much.

Because it makes him happy…really happy.  He feels loved and cared for.

Because it makes me happy.

Because it makes both of us happy.

Because we can.

Taking the First Step

When you make a life change many people don’t know what to say.  After dropping off my little son at school yesterday a fellow parent started a conversation with me.

So are you enjoying all of your free time?” – Parent

“Um.  I’m not sure I know what you mean?” – Me

“Well, now that you’re not working you have a lot more time to yourself, right?” – Parent

“Yes, for now.  I start school next week so I won’t have as much time then.” – Me

“Yeah, but it’s not the same as working now is it?” – Parent

“No, I guess not.” – Me

Instead of carrying on with the conversation I told the fellow parent I needed to go.  I wished her a good day and left her standing the school parking lot.

When I reached my car I took a deep breath.  I wondered if I would always feel the need to defend my choice to leave my job.  I didn’t explain myself to the fellow parent, but I sure felt like it.  The urge to explain every last detail is overwhelming sometimes.  I made the mistake a few weeks ago explaining what I was doing with my life, to someone I didn’t know and have regretted it ever since.  I ended up spilling out my life story in less than and hour to someone I hardly knew.  After that experience I vowed to stay quiet.

Sometimes we don’t realize how unhappy we are in a situation until we leave.  This was definitely the case with me.  I didn’t hate the job or the work environment  I was at, but I realize now it wasn’t the right fit.  I kept trying to make it fit though.  I thought something was wrong with me because everyone else seemed happy and I wasn’t.  I tried to change who I was so I could fit the job better, but in the end it made me more unhappy.  I realize now if something doesn’t fit it’s better to find something that does.

I’ve come to learn a few things about myself over the course of the last six weeks.  Things I needed to learn and accept, so I won’t make the same mistakes in the future.

Family is my top priority.

The family I was born into, the family I created and the family I married into are the most important people in my life.  The more time I spend with my family and happier I become. I realized my choice for a career must allow me as much time as possible with them.

I’m not a type A personality.

I’ve said this many times before, but it’s really true.  Although I can do many things at the same time (school, volunteer, work, and family), I don’t like it. I’m more comfortable to reduce the load and do a few things successfully, then try to be Wonder Woman feeling stressed out.

When you sell yourself short everyone loses.

I under bid my salary at my last job.  I thought I was doing the job a favor, but in the end I felt resentment for not being paid what I deserved.  I should have never sold my value for such a low price.  If the work you do matters, then ask for the salary it deserves.

You can be replaced.

The work environment adjusts quicker to change, than the person who leaves it.  I thought leaving would have more of an impact, but humans adjust by filling in the gap.  The work goes on just as life does.  I’m reminded that I’m replaceable…we all are.

I’m discouraged at the prospect of starting over…yet again.  However, by reflecting back I’ve taken the first step.

My plan is ready.  I’m ready to move on.