Hi everyone. I would like to share my story with you. Some may call it bragging. But some may be inspired. Here goes nothing.
At 17, I found out I was pregnant. Wow! I never expected to be a statistic. I never intended to let down my parents, embarrass my siblings, or shame my family. But there I was, barely attending school as it is was due to rebellious teenage ways, and pregnant. When I went to the guidance counselor in April of my senior year, he informed me that I could not come back and finish out the year. I would have to go back in September and complete another year. Due to give birth September 14th, I knew that wouldn’t work. So I took my fate and focused on getting ready to have a baby.
September came, and my world changed. On the day when the world mourned the lives lost in the terror attacks in NY, DC, and PA, I became a mom to a beautiful little girl. Boy did I have to grow up fast! A year after her birth, I took my father up on the offer to pay for the GED test. I passed with no problems. I wasn’t stupid, not by any stretch of the imagination. I was a teen who rebelled against tough times and tough authority and made poor choices in the process. But stupid, I was not.
A few months after getting my diploma, I started community college. I did amazingly well! But a few semesters in, I was raising my little girl alone and work became priority. I had to stop attending college.
And then, 4 and a half years after my first child, I gave birth to a chunky little boy! But a few months after his birth, I found that I still had not learned my lesson about men and bad choices. His donor was a drug addict who abused me and threatened to kill him. But I was strong enough to know that I needed to get far, far away. I did. I also enrolled in college again and continued working on my degree.
17 months after chunky monkey was born, I gave birth to another son. His dad and I did all we could to raise all 3 kids in a happy, healthy environment. But we were young and it didn’t last. We currently co-parent. And it works for us. As has the co-parenting with my daughter’s father (mostly). Don’t worry, chunky monkey knows his background, and he loves the dad that has been and continues to raise him.
5 years ago, when the boy’s dad and I split, I lived in my sister’s attic. 3 kids, me, and what personal belongings we could fit, spent a year living in my sister’s loft style, finished attic. Though it was cramped, we had love. I had the support of my sister and her strength to learn from.
All was going fine. I was able to get my own place about a year later and began building a life for my kids. I decided that finishing my degree would be the only way to do that. Considering I was raising 3 kids and working full time, online college would be the best option.
So I researched different schools, applied to a few, and determined which university would best fit my life and my long term goals. I chose my university and got started. Many people said I would never finish. That I would drop out just like I have in the past.
Well I didn’t. I pushed myself through days without sleep, nights of research and discussion posts, and weekends of fine tuning academic papers. I was determined by the pride I saw in my children’s eyes. I was motivated by their wishes for a bigger house with a private yard. I worked my brain to the point of exhaustion. My body ran on coffee and dreams!
This past weekend, our dreams became a solidified reality. The first step towards the life we want was recognized. With my family there, I walked the stage at my commencement ceremony. Not only did I finally earn my bachelor’s degree, I earned it with honors. Out of 271 bachelor’s candidates, only 12 earned honors recognition. I was one of those 12. I earned my BS in Psychology with a 3.97 GPA.
I know my family was proud to see that up on the big screen. But I had no idea that the emotions my children felt were so strong until after the ceremony. When I exited the building and searched for their faces through the crowd, I became discouraged when I didn’t see them exit. I began to walk to find them when my Dad found me in the crowd. He informed me that everyone was waiting out back for me and to hurry!
As I turned the corner, my children ran to me with open arms and tears streaming down their beautiful faces. My Dad was able to snap a few candid moments. Here is my favorite.
Nothing was more powerful than those moments when my children held me tight, crying, and offering up their congratulations. They stated how proud they were and how happy they were to see me on that stage. I still cannot look at the pictures without crying. I told everyone I would finish this time. And I did it! With honors.