I had just turned nineteen when I decided to become a mother. How was that going to work? Getting a solid education was always the expectation and dream, but becoming a mother began to creep up and tie for first. I’d figure it out; I was young, stubborn, ambitious and hopped up on the American dream. On December 14th, 2010, my son was born, and we were stepping onto a plane almost immediately to move from our Michigan home to Arizona; let the journey begin.
There was no timeline but my own, but a need to sign up and start my college education came in hot and heavy.
I first began at Scottsdale Community College taking the basic courses needed to survive any degree I wished to pursue; then life started to get dicey. I already could only take a couple of courses at a time and while my education was being paved, my relationship with my son’s father quickly crumbled and the dream seemed to blur. Confusion set in. I was making the attempt to wrap my head around being a single mom, having a full-time job and being a full-time student -– I completely froze. It was not a panic moment; it was a speechless and loss of my reality moment.
My journey was being put on an incredibly big pause, it was heartbreaking and discouraging.
I am a mother and that is the very center of who I am. Although there was something missing and I knew my expectations for myself needed to be met with absolute effort and stride. As my life began to settle a bit, the journey was able to pick back up again. I set out to prove that I could juggle all the responsibilities life had for me and excel in the process. I received an associate degree in arts from Scottsdale Community College while being on the President’s Honors List.
So, let’s try this again, shall we?
As I completed that educational goal, I simultaneously made the attempt to complete my personal life and gave relationship number two a go. To put it briefly, the attempt didn’t work. However, I can proudly say that in the wake of that devastation I got accepted into Arizona State University to pursue my bachelor’s degree. I felt almost, sort of, nearly there. As luck would have it the stars seemed to align for me for the very first time; my son and I became pleasantly surprised that our family would be expanding by three.
Robert and I met years ago as friends; falling in love with each other and each other’s children was the piece of the puzzle we both needed. Creating a blended family in the final couple of years with ASU (while working full time with Amazon) has turned into the single most ridiculous, challenging, chaotic and amazing thing I have ever done. The amount of patience and discipline learned as a student and a mother is not for the faint of heart; I turned assignments in with tears in my eyes on occasions.
I’m sitting now in my final semester of my undergraduate experience, in my new home for my wonderfully large family, realizing that my journey has been something designed specifically based on what I am capable of.
This shows not only myself but my children as well what dedication can bring you. The balance I found to maintain a positive experience with my education is something that I’ve consistently applied to my parenthood and vice versa. From community college to university and mom to stepmom. All equally as relevant and important as the other. As I’m typing this, I realize that my journey has a new chapter, as I graduate and move onward to my master’s degree, I will be able to cradle my new baby. So, who am I? I am everything my children need, I am a woman learning to balance it all and I am a student who won’t stop setting the bar higher.