20 years ago, I graduated high school.
And then I went on to college, moved to New Orleans, took my first job, met my husband and started a family.
But today, 20 years later, I walk across the stage to be given a piece of paper that at one point in my life, was absolutely only a dream. It has been an incredibly hard six years (More about that here). I have waited so long for this moment and I have teared up so many times over the past couple of months as this day approached.
Tears of joy that this is real.
Tears of relief that it’s finally over.
Tears of humility that I had the opportunity.
Tears of gratitude that my family and I survived it.
It’s been 20 years because it took me that long to figure out exactly what I was feeling called to. So when I finally did, I began school with a husband, a full-time job, a three year old and a baby in tow. None of that has changed since I started. My marriage is still going strong, we adopted our third child, and we have taken in other foster children. Life has not stopped, not even one bit.
And that’s what happens when a mommy goes to school. Life just keeps on going!
So what happens when a mommy graduates?
Many people, myself included, have asked, “what’s next?” It’s the most appropriate and encouraging question anyone could ask! And I guess I could respond with a full explanation of my very confusing career plan and the steps that it takes to get there … a topic that even I am still trying to figure out.
But instead I will share my heart, because I am actually not even thinking about those next steps. I am just thinking about all these moments at home. I worked hard so my family wouldn’t suffer while I was in school, but I would be lying if I said they had 100% of me. No matter how present I hoped to be, I still had a huge portion of my brain dedicated to school.
So today I graduate, and these are my next steps.
More time to color.
More time to play.
More time for running and chasing and tickling.
More time for date nights with my husband and playdates with my friends.
More outdoor adventures with family and carefree afternoons in the city.
More board games and Legos and baby dolls.
More “mommy and me” dates with my babies.
More walks, more sleep, and more of the things that bring me peace.
More FUN – and more of the things that bring me JOY.
More lessons to learn and more to teach.
Because when a mommy graduates…
Children see that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams. They see that women can do anything they put their mind to. They see that it’s ok to look out for yourself while you’re taking care of everyone else. And in my house, they will also see that just as they have always been my number one, they always will be.
This degree can’t disappear and my career will find me in proper time.
For now, my biggest dreams are still about my little people at home.