I am 30-years-old and have worked close to 20 professional jobs in my life. I have done it all – from assisting golfers to educating the homeless to refilling paper towel holders for $5.45 an hour (which, I should add, practically made me homeless). Despite all of the hours that employment consumed in my young adult life, I always found that it kept me humble and motivated me to study harder.
When I graduated with my first master’s in 2008, I could think of no better way to drain my bank account than to have my new degree, as well as my bachelor’s, professionally framed. You see, these two pieces of paper were more than simple accolades – they were physical reminders of the youth that I sacrificed for a better life.
Yesterday, for the very first time, my dream finally came true: my diplomas were hung on my office wall with care (in hopes that my third diploma will someday also be there).
Could the moment have been any more perfect? Well, I should mention that the process took an hour and forty-five minutes in a room no bigger than a master bedroom closet. When my toddler son wasn’t throwing his body in poetic sobs (fitting for a writing lecturer’s office, I know), my infant daughter was reminding my husband and I of why we desire only two children. Aren’t babies magical?!
In all seriousness, the weight of the endeavor was palpable, as I have begun the process of settling into my new office for my first semester post-maternity leave. Due to the unplanned, yet fortuitous timing of my daughter’s birth (and an incredibly understanding boss), I have been afforded nearly five and a half months off with my daughter – a true gift, to say the least.
In the midst of my children’s loud and unpredictable soundtrack, I took one final look at my diplomas as I departed the identity that I will, once again, assume next month. I remembered what life was like when I was only responsible for myself, when personal freedom pervaded every decision. At the same time, I recalled how the “long nights” of old pale in comparison to the endless zombie days of motherhood. Oh, what little we know when we think we know it all.
I think important things happen to us in the waiting, striving, and toiling of life, and often what we pursue changes. Luckily, our dreams can grow with us. And, if we do it right, they will be far too large to be contained by any wall or frame.