Tuesday, February 26, 2019

NURSING SCHOOL, PART 6

No classes or work today, so I've been catching up on chores around the house. The past two months, I have learned there are certain things that simply do NOT happen when Mom goes back to school/work:

No one cleans the cat's litter box. Checked that chore off the list today. Wow. All I can say is: I am so sorry, Kitty!

No one tidies the refrigerator. I threw out several weeks' worth of bits-&-pieces of unidentifiable leftovers today. Now that I've taken the trash out, I'm thinking maybe I should have saved a few "specimens" to take to school tomorrow for Micro lab show-&-tell.

Sweeping. With only three people living here now, you'd think there would not be a lot of dirt, hair, dust bunnies, and nastioferous "drift" floating around at floor level. But you'd be wrong. Secretly, I was trying to hold out on this one...see if someone else would notice the filth and pick up a broom. But nasty floors really aren't that big a deal to anyone else in my family...just me. Today, I cracked. The floors still need a good mopping, but at least now they are no longer crunchy.

Planned menus and bought and put away groceries. Washed and folded three loads of laundry. Took out two bags of trash. Washed and put away a sink full of dishes.

Now, time to tackle homework, prep for tomorrow's labs, and study for Friday's tests. If I can stay awake and concentrate, that is.

As I was folding a load of laundry this afternoon, I got to thinking: "I need a wife!" You know, someone to do the laundry, clean the bathrooms, mop the floors, and cook a hot meal while I'm away at work and school, so I can focus on more important things when I'm at home on my "off" time.

That one silly thought woke an enormous sleeping dragon.

When I was a full-time stay-at-home mom, my work day began when my feet hit the floor in the morning, and it didn't end until long after last little one was snuggled in bed for the night. No "wife" to make sure I had clean underwear or to have a hot meal on the table for me at the end of every day. No time clock on the wall where I could check out after a long, difficult shift. It was exhausting work, but I LOVED my job.

Now that I'm "out," my work/school day begins well before the sun peeps over the eastern horizon, and it doesn't end until my engine putters completely out of steam and I crash into bed, long after the sun has set. Still no "wife" to sweep my floors or buy my groceries, and "a day off" translates into "try to cram a weeks' worth of my old job into my new schedule." This is an exhausting season of life, but you know what? I LOVE what I am doing.

So, I am thankful for time to catch up on chores around the house today, and I am praying I'll be able to stay awake enough and alert enough the rest of this day to get some serious studying done.

And, to all my sisters out there who go hard, day in and day out, with no weekends off, no paid vacations, and no wife -

You

Are

Amazing.

Now, time to make another pot of coffee and tackle Micro.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

WHAT TO DO?

There are people in this world who, when they hurt you and you somehow find the courage to say "That hurt me," their response - "You're too sensitive," "You need to toughen up," "It was just a joke" - their response makes you feel guilty for being hurt, and although they were the one who threw the side punch or made the unkind comment, you end up believing you're the one who needs to apologize, for having been hurt at all.

And yet...

These same people, when you do resolve to not be so sensitive and you do "toughen up," they accuse you of being emotionally distant, so that, whether you express your emotions or you do not express your emotions, you are wrong.

Always wrong.

I understand that now...that there are such people in the world.

I understand now, but, as hard as I try, I cannot figure out what to do with that.

Monday, February 4, 2019

A SMALL THING

Today, my math teacher dedicated class time to a review session for an upcoming exam. As students filed into the classroom, I took my regular seat at the front row of tables and began unpacking my binder, calculator, etc.

"How was your weekend?" I asked the quiet young woman who sits to my right.

"Pretty good," she nodded. After she arranged her notes, paper, pencil, and calculator on the table in front of her, she stood and pulled a small purple box from her backpack. "Here," she smiled as she set something in front of me.

It was a Valentine card...you know, the little paper kind we used to trade in bulk way back in elementary school. Attached to the card, a small piece of candy.

"Wow!" I picked up the card. "Thank you!" Such a simple thing, and yet it significantly brightened my day this gray, rainy Monday.

Then, my young math neighbor stood and quietly distributed similar Valentines to every single person in the class. A whispered murmur of "Thank you!," "Cool!," "Thanks!" rippled through the room. Finally, she set a last simple Valentine on the teacher's lectern and took her seat.

And then, my teacher entered the room and we reviewed for Wednesday's test.

Fifty minutes later, chairs scraped, zippers zipped, and boots scuffed in the chaos of students leaving for another class. One young man paused at our front table before he headed out the door: "Thank you for the candy." My young friend simply smiled her quiet smile.

Dr. S glanced up from the lectern at the front corner of the room. He cocked his head to one side. "Hey..." My young neighbor turned her attention to him. "Hey..." - a broad smile lit up his face - "Thank you."

A single college professor and a roomful of anxious math students - each of us blessed by one very simple, quiet, unexpected gesture of kindness.

I learned so much more than math in class today.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

NURSING SCHOOL, PART 5

A few observations four weeks into my return-to-school adventure...

  • I appreciate coffee more.
  • I appreciate water more.
  • I appreciate wine more.
  • I appreciate sleep more.
  • I enjoy learning.
  • I dislike assignments that must be completed on computers in the library computer lab.
  • If a professor says he will be in his office at such-&-such time, and then he is not...grrrr.
  • Labs are my favorite classes. :)
  • It is a privilege to walk in the shadows of my children here.
  • School is a nice break from work; work is a nice break from school.
  • I need a housekeeper. And a cook. And a laundress. And someone to shop for groceries and to do all the bazillion and one things I used to do before I started working and going to school.
First round of exams begins next week. Wish me well!

Friday, January 25, 2019

YOU MAKE ME SMILE

I settled into my second-row seat in the lecture auditorium for Wednesday morning's Microbiology class. The professor whose class had just vacated the room stood beside the lectern in the front of the room, sorting papers and notes and packing them into his satchel.

Barrel-chested, a little on the short side, an epic beard that reached halfway to his waist, a pleasant face...the man fit the description of a professor one of my kids had enjoyed studying under a couple of years ago. As he passed in front of me, headed toward the exit, I leaned forward in my seat and ventured a guess: "Excuse me, are you Dr. P---?"

He stopped and turned to face me. "Yes, I am."

I stood and held out my hand. "I'm Camille Kendall. I am so glad to meet you, Dr. P---. I believe you taught one of my kids - Reuben."

Dr. P---'s countenance brightened. "Why, yes! How is Reuben doing?" he asked as he grasped my hand and shook it vigorously. "Where is he now?" I gave Dr. P--- a quick update on my son, then Dr. P--- continued: "I still have a few specimens with Reuben's name on them. Every time I look at them, I smile. Please, tell Reuben I asked about him," he beamed, "and that I say 'Hello!'"

* * *

When I mentioned my son's name, his former professor's face lit up like sunshine. This happens not infrequently, this response to "I'm Reuben's mom." It happens, too, when I say, "I'm (Emily/Nate/Tom/Ben/Martha/Helen)'s mom."

All of this to say...

Dear children of mine -

Scripture commands: "Honor your father and mother..." (Exodus 20:12). Everyone single one of you has done that. Each time I encounter someone else whose life you have impacted, I am astounded at the great honor with which you have blessed me.

Thank you. I am deeply grateful. And, I am deeply humbled...such honor from those who best know my frailties!

Thank you.

And, I love you.

You beautiful people make me feel like the richest woman on earth.

Wow...this was six taken six grand-babies ago!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

NURSING SCHOOL, PART 4

I slept in until 7:00 this morning. Usually, I'm up at 5:00 a.m. ...or earlier. Today, the sun stood well above the eastern horizon when I rolled out of bed, bright daylight on white snow.

I spent the entire day in my pajamas. I don't know if I have ever spent an entire day in my pajamas before in my life. (Maybe one or two days when I was sick?) Usually, I am up and dressed before dawn.

I spent almost the entire day on the sofa. Read Chapter 1 out of my Anatomy & Physiology textbook, dozed, up long enough to cook and eat lunch and start a load of laundry, back on the sofa to review concepts and vocabulary. Now, tapping away on the computer. Need to cook dinner and make progress in A&P Chapter 2 before I call it a day. Do NOT need to change before I head to bed. Win!

What I have NOT done today:
Cleaned the bathroom.
Mopped the floors.
Taken out the trash.
Put away the laundry. (I'll get around to it!)

Guess I'm making the adjustment to college-student life pretty well.

I shared earlier this week on Facebook, but want to share again here at the blog, a few of the challenges I've encountered as a non-traditional student:

1. Keeping a straight face when professors make comments like, "You probably covered this in high school, but I want to do a quick review." Two of my professors have apologized to their classes for a beginning-of-semester chemistry review. Apologized! Are you serious?! "I'm sorry if you find this boring or repetitive, but..." The last time I studied chemistry was 35 years ago. Sister, I NEED this review. DO NOT APOLOGIZE!

2. Climbing four flights of stairs and NOT wheezing like a geezer at the top. I begin each math class hoping that my instructor will not call on me for at least the first 10 minutes of class. I need time to catch my breath. Obviously, I also need to make hiking to the fourth floor of Humanities multiple times three days a week part of my routine fitness regimen.  Man, by the end of the semester, I'd be a BEAST!

3. Going three hours without a bathroom break. Folks, at 54 years of age, after seven pregnancies and after giving birth to seven babies, this is SERIOUS. On Facebook, folks assured me that, in college, it is okay to leave the classroom if need to use the restroom. NOT. For two reasons: first off, I cannot overstate how badly I need this chemistry review; second, despite the fact that all of my professors are younger than I am (one is literally young enough to be my child), I am confident that any one of the three would nail me to the wall if I stood up to leave the room during lecture.

4. Remembering where you parked the car when you come out of class. Two days a week, I ride to campus with my daughter. I LOVE carpooling. I love the conversation, the music jam sessions, the stops for coffee...and I especially love that it's her job to remember where the car is parked. She's really good at that.

Me, not so much. Fridays, I drive myself to campus. I came out of my last class this past Friday and had a mini panic attack when I realized I had absolutely NO IDEA where I had parked the van. Across from Administration? Behind the library? Next to the University Center? Almost a thousand commuter parking spaces on the UTM campus, and I had no idea which one I had parked in that morning.

Thankfully, by the time I finished studying the afternoon away in the library, most of the other students had left campus. When I stood and began putting my books away, I glanced out the second-floor library windows and spotted my lonely van waiting far away at the end of the lot beside the UC. (Thank you, Jesus!)

Lesson learned, fellow non-traditionals:

STUDY.

Studying late each afternoon helps you find your vehicle when you forget where you parked that morning.

Plus, studying just might make it easier to dredge up some of that chemistry you learned 35 years ago.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

THE BEST KIND OF FRIENDS

Bathed in prayer.

That's about the best way I can think to describe the past several months of my life.

Just over two years ago, a couple of friends and I began meeting together every other week to pray for one another. There is something incredibly soul-strengthening about hearing a sister pray your name out loud to the Father. Those coffee shop prayer meetings have been life-changing for me.

Praying friends are the best kind of friends.

Recent posts here at the blog have been about my journey to return to school to pursue a degree in nursing. Every single step of that journey has been prayed over by sisters who know and love me well. Week after week, they have taken my questions, doubts and struggles straight to the throne room of God; week after week, we have rejoiced together at the amazing way God has answered those prayers.

But last time we met, it wasn't the prayers for my family or prayers about school or work that touched my heart the deepest. It was a prayer that I had not even requested:

"God, as she is busy with the demands of work and school and family, please give Camille time in her schedule to write."

This friend understands how important writing is to me and has often encouraged me to develop and use this gift. I haven't mentioned my writing in months at our little prayer meetings - too preoccupied with more pressing matters - but my faithful friend has not forgotten. Her unsolicited prayer assured me that God has not forgotten either.

Praying friends...these are the best kind of friends.

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. - Matthew 18:20