Ever start something and not finish? Something that you know you should be doing but the excuses are just too good? Story of my life. Gavin literally makes fun of me because he says I love to start projects, put my entire heart into it, then 6 hours later…lose all interest. Well, some projects are just too big to ignore, and when they haunt you for 5 years of your life, they need to be addressed. That was the case with my College Degree.
When I “walked” the graduation stage in 2012 I was under the impression that my last class was available online, and as soon as I got back to California I was going to enroll and finish my degree. Soon after I touched down in California and started my job, I found out the horrible news that the class was only offered on University of Colorado’s Campus. I was told there was no way I could take it online and at the time, I didn’t take this seriously. As new phases in my life came such as meeting my amazing husband, wedding, and when I had Wyatt the thought of traveling back to school became less of a priority and more and more out of reach. Occasionally, I would petition to take it online and each time I thought my excuse would suffice.. marriage.. child.. second child. Nope.
When we got pregnant with Rosie, I got to thinking, if I don’t do this damn class before she is born there is just no way i’ll ever finish. Gavin supported me from the get go, I really couldn’t dream up a better husband. He is the “finish what you start” “handshake is gold” morally straight kind of man and that’s something about him I really admire… until it comes to him telling me the importance of finishing my degree. With LOTS of prayer and planning, we decided as a family it would be best for me to return to College… 7 months pregnant. Returning to college didn’t just mean signing up for a class online, it meant packing up my life for about a month and heading to Colorado. Sounds just about as hilarious, embarrassing and painful as it was. I had nightmares about it for weeks ahead of time, worried I wouldn’t fit in the desk, introducing myself and my 4 pound child to the class, and leaving our little home and family dynamic was a thought that constantly made me question if I was doing the right thing.
Over and over again Gavin reassured me that “we got this” with an occasional tease or two over the hilariousness of the situation. The day I signed up for the class was a bit emotional, but the more I thought and prayed about it, the more I realized I don’t just owe it to myself to finish, but my husband, parents, and my children too. Speaking of parents, I couldn’t ask for better ones. As I grow older I realize more and more all that they have done for me, and with that comes the realization that matter what I do in this life, I will never be able to pay them back. However, getting this degree would make them proud so I was going to do just that.
With what felt like a million suitcases, we treked to the beautiful town of Boulder Colorado. I was joined by Gavin, Wyatt, Mom and saint of a sister, Jenna. My mom helped us get settled into our darling Airbnb and left the next day while my sister stayed. I couldn’t have done this without my sister, she stayed with me THE entire time as Gavin and my family came and went. She watched Wyatt every single day while I sat in class for 3 hours and worked on homework and papers after class. I think the fondest memory ill take from this entire experience is the amazing time we had together, the laughing the long talks and just spending good ol’ sister time. There really is nothing like a sister and for this reason, we will certainly not be stopping after Rosie because she needs a “Jenna” in her life too! Her boyfriend Nick also drove 14 hours to bring Jenna’s car to us and stayed the last week. We had the best time, and were so glad we didn’t have to haul around in Ubers each day anymore. I am so grateful for Nick, I already feel like he’s my little brother and I love how much he values my sister.
Class wasn’t easy. It was a Maymester course, meaning it was an entire Semester’s work squished into 3 weeks. Five days a week, 3 hours a day, plus 4-5 hours spent studying and reading. I nearly had a panic attack the first day in class as we were told to introduce ourselves, the pronouns we went by, and our favorite Ice cream. When the teacher asked who wanted to go first, I volunteered.
‘Hi I’m Stephanie, go by her/she/, mint chip ice cream would be my favorite.. and to point out the obvious I’m actually 31 weeks pregnant, married with a little boy Wyatt and here to finish my last class of college.” All eyes turned, smiled, and I literally laughed out loud thinking yup.. I’m that mom in class!
It was only uphill from there, the students were darling and each day I got to know a few of them a little better. Sydney was a fellow Chi Omega, Adam was a bartender at a local spot, Michael was from Oakland, and Erna was the smart student who was passionate about Syrian refugees. I could go on but ill spare you.. bottom line is I ended up adoring the people in my class. My teacher… was awesome, and I’m so thankful I had him! A husband and father of two boys, from the midwest and on the first day made a bold statement that nobody has an excuse to miss class if the pregnant lady shows up! We all laughed on multiple occasions as I made jokes about my peeing habits or pregnancy life. One of the best memories during class was when everyone erupted in laughter because there was a flying baby head in the window of our classroom… It was Wyatt being held up by my sister.
As a parent, I see the value my Mom and Dad taught me in finishing what you start. I got to thinking that if Rosie or Wyatt were to be in the position I am today or something similar, I would pray and hope they would finish and do what is right. Also, i’ve got to be clear….it isn’t about the fact that I got an A+ in the class, or the fact that I now have a degree. A degree doesn’t make me a better person or a better mom, and it wouldn’t have made me a better employee or worker. In fact, I’m sitting on the plane as I write this more excited than ever to go back to being a stay at home mom and wife because it’s what I love to do. What the flimsy paper does do is show myself, my husband, my son and my daughter that when you want something bad enough, you do it and if you start something, you finish it.. even if that means sitting in a desk 7 months pregnant.