It's so surreal. In fifteen days, I will be done with my two summer classes and will be officially done with graduate school. I will have successfully earned my master's degree in teaching and will be certified to teach 4th - 8th grade.
I'm afraid the significance of this event is going to get lost in the baby shuffle, especially since I won't attend a ceremony or wear a cap and gown. Of course, the baby is so much on our minds now and I don't regret that for an instant. And it's not that I want some cheering section to sing my praises. I just don't want to forget to appreciate it myself, that's all. Our lives have changed so drastically in the four semesters it has taken me to earn this degree.
I have changed, too.
Over two years ago, I made the decision, along with endless advice and support from Tony, to quit my job and do a radical (or so it seemed to me!) career change. It would require some major sacrifices, like significantly reducing our spending and forgoing saving for the future for a while so we could live on one income. It was scary. It also meant a whole new direction in terms of energy and time commitments. It pretty much meant rethinking our outlooks on life and turning in an entirely new direction.
I have absolutely not regretted the decision for one moment. I didn't regret it when we started living more frugally and found out the beauty of living more simply.
I didn't regret it when we had to skip splurge purchases or pass on vacations.
I didn't regret it when I drove my last hour and a half commute home on the maddeningly congested freeways of Atlanta.
I didn't regret it when I donned my backpack once again, heart aflutter with back-to-school jitters.
I didn't regret it during the hours and hours and hours spent doing homework, often at night or on weekends, despite the fact that it cut into "play" time that I had usually taken for granted.
I didn't regret it when Tony and I took a long walk together every evening last summer with the dogs, something that would have been impossible when I was working late nights routinely.
I didn't regret it when I felt like I couldn't read another stinking textbook - or buy another, for that matter.
I didn't regret it when I was placed in some pretty challenging schools for my student teaching, forcing me to be strong and confident and all too aware of some of the biggest challenges in education.
I really didn't regret it when we took that pregnancy test last November and I knew this new life would allow me to spend more time with our baby than I ever would have been able to before.
And most significantly, I absolutely did not regret it when I knew, really knew, from the bottom of my heart, that teaching is what I am meant to do. When I saw the light bulb go off, or saw a smile creep in to a middle schooler's tough exterior, or when I made connections to learning while standing in front of thirty kids that I didn't even know I was capable of making. When I felt how fulfilling a job can be. How tough, but how rewarding. When I see my students around town and they give me a big hug. When I anticipate, both with fear and anxiety, but also with uncontrollable excitement, the time when I will have my own classroom and students.
When I realize it's all been worth it.