All over the nation, children are preparing to go back to school, and exhausted mothers are counting the days with a subtle smile. Imagine if it’s a mom with two teenagers who’s preparing to go back to study for a degree. It happened to me years ago.
What prompted my decision was a medical problem: two slipped disks in my back and continuous pain due to standing in a research lab for hours and days, running analyses and developing new procedures. After spending two months lying down, taking pain killers, and wearing a brace around my hips, my doctor declared, “You can’t continue to work in a lab. You’ll have to find yourself something else to do.” I agreed with him. But the lab was my life. So I decided to go back to graduate school and prepare a Ph.D. in chemistry.
My children were ten and fourteen the day I sat again in a classroom. I was a nervous wreck. Would I be able to understand the textbooks’ jargon after so many years away? Would I have time to study with all my responsibilities as a mother and a wife to a husband who continuously traveled for business? Would I be able to pass the exams? Would I be accepted by the younger students?
I put aside my usual clothing, wore jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers to look like the others. To my husband’s horror, soon my jeans exhibited a hole on the thigh due to a drop of nitric acid. “You’re not going to wear THIS?” Sure I did.
At night, I insisted the kids turn off their radios, stereos —there was no iPod, or iPad at the time— and told them they could sit with me at the dining room table to do home work or stay in their rooms and be quiet. Before my first exam, I swallowed two aspirins to calm myself and answered correctly. Thank God I did well. I continued taking the aspirins before each exam. Is it any wonder I destroyed my stomach and got myself an incurable ulcer?
Going back to school had more fringe benefits than working full time. A mother being always a mother, I used my flexible hours wisely and attended soccer practice, baseball games, and ballet lesson, but I always had a book with me and tried to study.
During the first year, I didn’t mingle much and the students thought I was newly married. I let them believe what they wanted. Then one day, my daughter called me at school. Another student took the call. You should have seen her face when she said, “A little girl called saying she’s your daughter.” I just nodded, but eventually I answered their questions about my daughter’s age, etc…
My son remained a secret until graduation. By then I was comfortable enough in my student skin to introduce him to my friends and colleagues. During my third year, he was applying for college and adamantly refused to go to U.C. while I was still there. “What would I do if we meet on campus? Can you see me telling my friends, ‘this is my Mom’?” I didn’t see anything wrong with that, but according to my son, it was very tacky!
My husband, kids, and parents attended my graduation. My professor was very proud of his mom-student, and had me carry the graduate school banner leading the entering procession for the graduation ceremony.
My latest book, NEIGHBORS and MORE, is a romantic suspense, and the first book of the High Rise Series. It’s available at Amazon. http://tinyurl.com/96bjqcm
High Rises are like large families where members face love, hate, meddling, and gossiping. When the neighbor who was harassing her is found dead in the Jacuzzi, Alexa is a prime suspect. Can she count on her dear neighbors, including the delectable Italian, Dante, for help? With too many skeletons in their own closets, would they save her or incriminate her?