I look forward to a new year.
As I told my son, it’s a new start in more ways than one.
- I’m almost finished with graduate school.
The end is in sight. It feels like I’ve been in college again for more than a decade, which makes me wonder how people go to school straight from earning a BA to a Master’s degree. (I had five years between my degrees.) But, the greatest lesson I’ve learned from what my husband calls “your semester from hell” is you will have reinvent and prove yourself again and again.
For the first two years of graduate school, I had no doubt my particular college had my back in all matters because I worked so hard and well with them. But, I learned with the other half of a different college on campus, my professional relationships were not as well-formed. I would have to prove myself – after I lost control of my anger and depression – to the one person who controls a signature on my degree, who lacks faith in me, and provides the certification to make me better at what I love doing
I had one picture that brought me back down to Earth for this degree.
My children, husband, and I homeless …
2. Postpartum depression is no joke.
So, why be honest about all of this information?
Because, as Elsa sings in “Frozen,” “Let it go.” Overall, I’ve learned to control and temper my depression and anger. I’ve written and worked out, but after the birth of my daughter, my body changed completely. Only recently with the gradual weaning of breastfeeding has my energy returned.
I experienced extreme exhaustion and health issues with breastfeeding and postpartum, but I was fortunate by the middle of the year to find a doctor who discovered the problems at hand. She got me back on antidepressants and special vitamins, so I could continue breastfeeding.
(And, then she moved away.)
But, I could not shake off the feeling in the fall semester of graduate school that I was wrestling with sharks. My husband says, “They’re really dolphins, but people forget that even dolphins bite.” I said, “One in particular is a shark. This one smells blood.”
3. Autism needs to be understood.
When I realized I had a chance to publish my memoir-in-verse, I split the project in two, so I could focus on the issues my family has recently endured, such as raising a family in graduate school while dealing with postpartum depression and a child recently diagnosed with autism.
Because I love what I do for a living, I will never write about kids I teach. But, I can say working with children who have autism is one thing, but it is a new journey when your child is diagnosed with autism. I have constantly battled trying to be there for my son during this past semester while meeting my commitments for school. When I wanted to attend his diagnosis, some were not happy about the look of even one absence, although it was made up.
Children with autism deserve the dedication of parents, teachers, and those in the community. They deserve for their voices to be heard. They deserve for their parents to make meetings, and for expectations to be set.
What do I have to do?
Let it go. Let go of anger. Learn to live; not survive with sharks, or dolphins that bite.
4. My children make me a better person and writer
I fell in love the moment when I first held both of my children, but when my daughter was born, I wanted to hang back. I wanted to stay with them a little longer. I wanted to hold her to my chest and stroke her black hair longer before it turned to reddish brown. I wanted to dry my son’s tears because I had another night class. I could not explain to him that other people demanded time; time I wanted to give back to him and his sister.
5. So, at the end of 2015, I got what I wanted … for a short time at least.
Admit weakness. Admit fear. These are the only ways to move forward from my experience. Then blow and let them go.
I didn’t realize how much I had changed. With the infrequent schedule of an internship, classes, and this due and that due along with commitments to the loves of my life, I transformed. Since the semester ended, I have been regaining my strength. My husband has said, “I see my wife again.” My parents see their daughter again.
But, I also got to just be a mom, wife and writer.