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Autism: From the outside looking in. Lifestyle Parenting

TELEVISION SAVED MY LIFE AS A PARENT.

I know I know….

It is absolutely frowned upon to let your children consume too much of the “idiot box”.

As a matter of fact, my parents only kept up to two televisions in the house until I was in high school. I didn’t have a television in my room until I bought one of my own.

The reason why I preferred having a television in my room is because I have always been afraid of the dark. I still am afraid of the dark. A traditional nightlight just doesn’t cut it.

During the first week of Ariana’s life, I had the worst time getting her to fall asleep. It was already terrible enough that she constantly cried. She didn’t have an issue with colic or health, she just cried a lot. At first, I tried to soothe Ariana with a radio. That worked for a few days. Then, I tried the television.

MAGIC!!!!

Did it stop her from crying? NO. Did the television help her got to sleep? YES JESUS! That means mommy could get some sleep. Mind you, I was battling postpartum depression at the time. I needed to sleep.

It wasn’t the fact that I just had the television on. Ariana specifically wanted to watch “The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. Homegirl thought she was grown.

This worked out well because these two shows came on back-to-back. DVR was also my friend when I needed access to these shows multiple times a day.

When Ariana graduated to her own room, I put a television in her room. By then, she had enter the world of Dora The Explorer. We love educational programming! No, she wasn’t sitting in her room, watching tv all day. She needed the television for background noise, just like I did.

As I continued to have kids, television became more of a necessity.

Have you ever tried to make phone calls or handle other important business while several little kids were running around? How did that work out? Have you ever needed to tend to one child, but the other one(s) we’re getting into everything?

Sometimes, you just need your children to sit down and shut the Hell up. Putting on a favorite movie or series with some popcorn just does the trick!

I also found tv to be an educational helper for my special needs boys. They all have shorter than normal attention spans, so traditional teaching doesn’t help much. Julian and Joshua are mostly nonverbal, but they can sing nursery rhymes and recognize some colors. Cocomelon and Baby First TV are their favorites.

Avery learned how to read high frequency words from watching YouTube. Although his comprehension is not good, Avery reads well above grade level. Phonics is his thing!

The thing is, it’s not realistic for me to keep all of my children occupied at the same time. Is using the television taking the lazy way out? It might be to you. However, it makes my household run a little bit easier, especially for my ASD babies. I’m not sure if the problem is how much tv time your children have. I think the problem is the kind of content that your kids are consuming.

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Autism: From the outside looking in. Lifestyle Parenting

Our First Week Of Remote Learning!

Let’s just say that there is not enough wine in the world to go through this. It started out as an atrocity, but it’s getting better.

The state that I live in was obviously not prepared for this school year. The last few months of the last school year was also remote learning, but we had old-fashioned packets and pencils. I guess the state thought we would just pick up where we left off.

This school term is all virtual. This means that we are doing everything over the computer. We are saving trees, folks!

I think that everyone involved in this process needs to understand a few things:

1. The teachers are frustrated as well and would rather teach their babies in a classroom. THIS IS NOT THEIR FAULT!

2. Parents have to learn how to use new applications along with their kids. Some kids are being raised by a generation that is not tech-savvy. Parents, you are allowed to be frustrated!

3. Technology is technology. Something is going to malfunction or crash. Some parents have gotten their kids started in the morning with ease, and some are ready to tear their hair out.

I want to say that I am blessed to be in the position that I am in as a stay at home parent. There are parents who either had to quit their jobs, rearrange their schedules, go without sleep, or entrust their children to a babysitter to help with schoolwork.

Honestly, this was supposed to be the school term that made my house empty. I had plans to throw a party all by myself. I had plans to finally finish that mountain of laundry. I had plans to just enjoy the quiet time.

I complain about it, but I have to look at the fact that parents who work outside of the home are stressed beyond belief right now.

I never understood the last minute open house meetings. Why do I get all of my children’s information three days before starts? It makes no sense. Mind you, I already have the school supplies. Shout out to my early preparation in March!

What alarmed me about this year’s open house was finding out that two of my children were going to be attending different schools. The last minute notice…..

My older three children were set to start school on Monday(August 17th), and my youngest three were set to start later. I was ferociously checking emails and apps on Saturday(August 15th) because none of my children had classes. I hadn’t heard from Avery’s new school.

On Monday(August 17th), I logged into my children’s Google Classroom accounts. Amariyah had her classes, but her teacher is missing. She is being taught by the 5th grade teacher. Avery and Ariana were still without classes. I was able to get Amariyah started on her Zoom meetings with slight difficulties.

I proceeded to call my other children’s schools to figure out what was going on. After about 30 attempts, I finally was able to speak with secretaries. They took my messages, but didn’t call me back. Oh lord! According to a secretary, Avery was transferred to the wrong school.

Meanwhile, Amariyah was just breezing through her meetings with her NOTfourthgrade teacher. She is the type of child who likes to take charge. Sometimes it’s great and other times it’s annoying. I’m referring to the way that she talks over everybody because she just has to be first or correct.

I received a call back from a technical support representative for Ariana at 6:00 that evening. I was instructed to keep checking her email because she was no longer using Google Classroom. I checked Ariana’s email and found some links to get her started for the next day. Unfortunately, I still had no word on Avery.

On Tuesday(August 18th), Amariyah and Ariana logged into their classes and email and got started. I checked Avery’s Google Classroom app. There were two classes. Thank God! I was confused because he was still enrolled at the school that I was told was incorrect. I just wanted my baby to get started so I logged him into his zoom meetings.

Avery had a difficult time concentrating during his meetings. This was to be expected for several reasons. I had to sit next to Avery and help him pay attention.

When it came time for Avery to do his assignments, I had to guide him through his work.

The work that he was given didn’t seem to line up with his IEP. I called the school. I spoke to the secretary who was in charge of special education to express my concerns.

This is when I found out that Avery was in a regular classroom with an EC(Exceptional Children) teacher as backup. I was pretty annoyed at this point. The secretary confirmed to me that she had Avery’s IEP, but she said she never read it. She wanted to see what Avery was capable of doing.

Ummm…. isn’t that the point of the IEP?

I was pissed. I emailed Avery’s EC teacher, but she was also pretty dismissive. I miss his old school because I was used to his teacher. I hope that he can return soon.

Whew! I think that next week is when I will introduce my babies into virtual learning. I guess the therapies for Julian and Joshua will also be virtual…. This will be a movie.

Aside from late starts, defective zoom links, missing classes, and missing teachers, the first week went okay. We will continue to pray moving forward. I still have to get my babies on the bandwagon. This will be fun. We just all have to get used to this new normal.

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Lifestyle Parenting

The Cursing Parent? Let’s Talk About That Sh*t!

First of all, cursing doesn’t make you a bad person at all. Honestly, I don’t even know how these choice words even got their bad stigma. All I know is that when someone hits a pinky toe on the wall corner, their first instinct isn’t to yell, “Oh for heaven’s sake!”. Some people feel embarrassed because they “slipped” and said a curse word. The truth is, it’s natural to drop an F-bomb when one experiences such excruciating pain.

Okay…. so what does it mean when you curse in front of your own children? It means absolutely nothing!

Look, Spongbob Squarepants called curse words “sentence enhancers”. There were no truer words spoken. Nothing drives your point across quite like “Sit your ass down!”. Don’t act like your kids’ behavior doesn’t frustrate you. Don’t you get tired of telling your child the same thing over and over again? Eventually, frustration is going to win.

When I was younger, I never heard my mother say a curse word. My daddy wore that crown. My mother wouldn’t even let her kids tell each other to “shut up”. After raising kids for more than 30 years, my mom has let the sparks fly. It’s refreshing, honestly. I mean, you are made to believe that there is a bed waiting for you in Hell for using these words.

I actually went through a couple of periods of a vocabulary cleansing. It was more of a “spiritual cleansing” in my eyes. At that time, I felt like God wasn’t going to bless me or I was damned to Hell for cursing. Oh brother!

Cursing doesn’t have to have emotion behind it. Let me introduce you to the casual curser. The casual curser has curse words imbedded in their vocabulary. They might even be “doing the most” by using 90% curse words in a simple sentence. Leave those people alone. Have you ever played Mario Kart with your very experienced kids? I rest my case.

Unless you keep your kids locked up and plugged up, they are going to hear cursing from somewhere.

Yes, my kids hear me curse. Yes, one of my kids has repeated a curse word. I took Avery to enroll in pre-kindergarten 4 years ago. I was signing his paperwork when he suddenly let the F-bomb fly repeatedly. I was embarrassed. No, my child shouldn’t have been cursing. The administrator laughed the incident off, but I could tell that she was uncomfortable. I apologized profusely because one thing that I don’t want to do is make someone feel uncomfortable or disrespected. There are people who believe in something so strongly that they will use the “I’ll show you” approach against the opposition. Those people are assholes.

Do I want my kids(at their current ages) cursing to other people? No. Are they doing it in places like school? Most likely. I never uttered any curse words in my parents’ house, as a child. You bet your ass I did at school. The first time I remember cursing was in 3rd grade.

Donnie and I curse often when we have conversations. We aren’t fighting. We just casually throw those bad boys in there. One thing that I love about Donnie is his sensitivity. He also doesn’t like to offend or disrespect people either. There are certain words or phrases that rarely will or never will leave my mouth. Certain words and phrases just bother me. Some of those words are synonyms for a vagina. Whew, girl! No ma’am….

I believe that most of the behaviors that children, who eventually become adults, are learned behaviors. I’d rather my child learn a curse word than to learn hate any day. I’m not sitting around cursing my kids out. If you are worried that your child will be a bad person because of words, you have nothing to worry about.

If you are interested in jewelry, I sell paparazzi jewelry through my business, “Antonia’s Glamsc8pe”. Feed your $5.00 habit at my online store:

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Lifestyle Parenting

The Pros And Cons Of Early Preparation

I am an early preparer because I have a large family. I’m talking about packing for a July vacation in May. I’m talking about Christmas shopping in August. My paranoia tells me to “get it done while you have the money” or “pack now because you will have a lower chance of forgetting something”. It has worked out beautifully until now….

COVID-19 turned most people’s lives upside down in March of this year. I discovered on the news that surrounding counties were closing down schools for the last two weeks of March. As soon as I got the call from the district office, I knew. I knew my kids were going to drive me crazy. I delayed the delivery of the news until Donnie came home from work.

The celebrations commenced after I told my kids what the deal was. These kids literally turned on a movie and asked me to make popcorn. I think Amariyah is the only one who genuinely likes schools. Still, she was happy. We all thought it would just be a short break.

FYI, I was not the one who stockpiled tissue, bread and milk during this time.

It was April, and the kids were still out of school. I decided to finish up my school shopping for the next school term. I actually started shopping in November of 2019. I had all of their essentials purchased by February. I always size up because children grow overnight. It just makes sense.

May arrives and the kids are still out of school. The Governor cancels school for the rest of the school term. Again, my kids were delighted. I wasn’t, as I was struggling to help them finish their 500 remote learning packets. I decided to use the old-fashioned pencil and paper because it was the easiest way for me to keep track of progress and make remarks.

What did your kids do during your state’s Stay-At-Home order? My kids ate. They ate and they ate. It wasn’t until late June that I remembered the fortune that I had spent on school clothes. My kids had gotten taller and wider. Despite my genius attempts to size up, I had to face the reality that the clothes probably would fit anymore.

I was correct about some of the clothes. Now I have a big donation box sitting in my room. I was given the option to homeschool my kids for the upcoming school year. In an effort to keep my children safe, I agreed to keep my kids in virtual school. While I get to bless some other children with new clothes and shoes, I don’t have to worry about purchasing anymore school clothes.

I will not let this unfortunate circumstance deter me in the future. I still say that my method works. On to Christmas shopping next month!

If you are interested in jewelry, I sell paparazzi jewelry through my business, “Antonia’s Glamsc8pe”. Feed your $5.00 habit at my online store:

https://www.antoniasglamsc8pe.com

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Lifestyle Parenting

The Most Thankless Job.

We are in the group of the unacknowledged “essential workers”. Stay-at-home parents know EXACTLY what I mean. Our job is the most demanding, but least appreciated.

I was only working on the weekends at the time I decided to stay home with my kids. My husband, Donnie, worked during the week. I had three children at home at the time. My husband and I traded childcare duties

There are many reasons why stay-at-home parents are created. Finances didn’t initially sway my decision to become a stay-at-home parent. I was pregnant with Julian, and I wanted to rest.

Before I had Julian, I suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage. It happened in May of 2014. I had been spotting on and off for a week. I began to heavily bleed around Mother’s Day. Donnie and I were devastated, but I later accepted that God had a reason. Others would say that it was because “You don’t need anymore kids.”. Okay….

I found out that I was pregnant again in July of the same year. I was highly stressed at work, and I just wanted to take it easy with my pregnancy. I just quit. I talked to my husband first, of course. Donnie was fully prepared to take on the burden of our household finances.

I’ve been a stay-at-home mother for almost six years. As time passed, I had more kids. Daycare was not something that would fit into the budget.

I absolutely hate it. Am I allowed to say that? Yes, I hate being a stay-at-home mother. My kids are not the reason why I feel this way. I just feel inadequate and lazy. Some days I feel held back. I feel like my contribution is the least important.

I’M THE ALARM CLOCK.

My weekdays start at 4:00am when I wake my husband up for work. My oldest children are out of the bed between 5:15 and 5:30. We all know that the kiddies need to be woken up at least five times. By 5:50, it’s time to dress some flailing toddlers!

All of my kids depart for school by 6:35am. All except for Jessica. She will start Pre-K this fall.

I’M THE SECRETARY AND ACCOUNTANT.

After I get Jessica settled, it’s time to create the household budgets. I actually enjoy doing this part. I don’t know if it’s the task of creating ledgers, or the the thrill of making financial miracles happen. Aren’t unexpected bills the best?

Handling business phone calls takes place in Le Master Bedroom. The downside of talking on the phone is that the sleep deprivation in my voice tends to shine through at some point.

I’M THE RECREATIONAL COORDINATOR.

I know there are parents that don’t believe in letting their kids watch much television. I’m not “parents”. With 6 kids, television has saved my life! I’d rather not have a conference call with Geico and my 4 year old.

Jessica constantly asks to watch Doc McStuffins. How many times have I watched the same three episodes of Doc McStuffins? “Time for your check-up! Time for your check-up!”

Sometimes Jessica will lie in an effort to spring me from my work. “Mom! My tv turned off!”.

As I walk to her room, I hear the familiar theme song, “Time for your check-up! Time for your check-up!”, followed by a tiny snicker. Why is she like this?

Playing “pretend” with dolls should be a crime. Somehow, I always end up with the doll who is missing hair. I also have to give the dolls voices. Jessica stays on my neck.

On a beautiful day, we might go outside. Jessica’s favorite activity is “Hide and Seek”. I love pretending that I don’t see her hiding behind that tree.

Julian has half days, so he gets off of the bus at 12pm. It’s time for lunch. While the kids are napping, I try to get some cleaning in.

I’M THE CHEF EXTRAORDINAIRE.

Before I know it, it’s 3:15pm. That means it’s time to cook dinner. On a good day, my family is getting a five-course meal. On a stressful day, everyone is eating a “big ole pot of spaghetti”, as my mother calls it. I’m constantly finding new ways to diversify my menus, but my kids are so picky. Donnie is just grateful to get a bite to eat. Bless his heart. My kids start getting off of the bus at 3:45, with the last child arriving home at 4:45pm. Dinner is on the table at 5pm.

I’M A TUTOR.

First of all, common core is from the works of the Satan. I have to relearn what my kids are learning in order to help them with homework. What the Hell is a number bond? I try to refrain from teaching my kids how I learned growing up because I don’t want to confuse them. I’ll just be confused instead. Donnie arrives home at 6:30pm, just in time to dodge the chaos.

I’M THE HOUSEKEEPING MANAGER.

It’s time for chores. Call it controversial, but I call it teaching responsibility. The kids will not die from sweeping a floor, trust me. My older kids have a set list of chores to do every evening. This lasts about 30 minutes…..unless one of them decides to throw dirty laundry in a closet or hide trash under a bed. Sigh!

I’M A GUIDANCE COUNSELOR AND MEDIATOR

Sometimes I notice that one or more of my children seem unusually quiet. They hate the repeated “Is everything okay?”. I genuinely want to know. Let’s figure it out! Sometimes school is difficult because of other kids or schoolwork. Sometimes one child may feel like he or she is getting a little less attention than the other.

Being the mediator is fun. How many fights have you had to break up? Do you love mediating stupid arguments? All of that comes with having multiple children. It’s annoying, but as siblings grow, they start getting on each others nerves. They still love each other, I promise.

DOWNTIME(sort of)

Once chores are done and booties are washed, my kids have earned electronics privileges. After overloading the WiFi bandwidth for an hour, my kids are sent to bed. This doesn’t mean they are sleeping. Julian and Joshua spend at least an hour jumping around and kicking the walls before the silence happens.

Now it’s time for me to get my life together before I lay down for the night. My “night” includes maybe 3 hours of sleep. As a matter of fact, I’m up at 3:00am writing this.

Being a stay-at-home parent is not for the selfish. It’s just another sacrifice that parents make for their families everyday. The reward will come one day. In the meantime, have a pitcher of margaritas on standby, and enjoy your kids before they start smelling themselves!

If you are interested in jewelry, I sell paparazzi jewelry through my business, “Antonia’s Glamsc8pe”. Feed your $5.00 habit at my online store:

https://www.antoniasglamsc8pe.com

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Autism: From the outside looking in.

Is My Autistic Child A Burden?

This is the question that I have for our local school system.

I had the worst time enrolling Julian into Exceptional Children pre-Kindergarten(EC Pre-K). The original director of Pre-K was retiring, so she had to be replaced. I really loved the original director because she was one, of a couple of people, who was really instrumental in expediting the enrollment process for Joshua.

I initially began the process of enrolling Julian into the public school system in the Spring of 2019. Naturally, he was referred for EC Pre-K. I did the usual paperwork, plus some. Do you understand how tired I am of filling out ABAS-3 booklets?!

I didn’t hear anything back after a few weeks, so I made some phone calls and sent a few emails. Then, I made some more phone calls and sent more emails. I made even more calls and sent even more emails.

I felt like I was getting the run around. Before I knew it, Joshua was getting on the bus for his second term of EC Pre-K. It was September. Julian was still not in school, and there was still no movement with his paperwork.

I talk to Joshua’s teacher on a regular basis. She is a gem. Before we hang up, she always tells me, “Let me know if you need anything.”.

I ended up confiding in Joshua’s teacher about Julian’s situation. She assured me that she would find out what was going on. That, she did. In a matter of weeks, Julian’s evaluations and meetings began, and he was in school by February. Because of capacity limits, Julian was sent to a different school from Joshua. However, they were going to be riding the same bus.

On his first day, I woke Julian a little bit earlier than I usually wake Joshua. Julian is a fighter, and he doesn’t realize that he’s going somewhere until his shoes are being put on. Joshua is pretty used to the routine, but we still have some bad mornings.

Julian and Joshua both never go to sleep until at least an hour after scheduled bedtime. They share a room, which is secured with a child safety doorknob. If I don’t keep their door closed at night, they will roam around the house. They both know how to unlock and open the main door of the house, so I do this for my piece of mind.

Julian and Joshua’s bus ride to school is a lengthy one, so I have one of my older girls prepare half of a granola bar and a half cup of milk for their breakfast. The boys receive a full breakfast once they get to school.

When the bus arrived, Julian was hesitant to get on. This was for two reasons: This was a new experience for Julian, and he usually doesn’t like to climb up or down steps.

My fifth child was out of the house. Cue the pitter patter of tiny feet. Jessica wanted me to turn on Doc McStuffins. “Time for your check-up! Time for your check-up!”

I went about my normal routine. At around 11:30, I noticed a flood of missed calls on my phone. Donnie’s routine lunchtime call was coming through before I was able to figure out who the phone number belonged to.

Donnie received the same phone calls. He told me that they were from Julian’s teacher. She wanted to let us know that she was sending Julian home on the 12pm bus. Julian was having a bad day.

When Julian arrived home, I immediately checked his book bag. I found a note from his teacher, saying that she wanted to have a phone conference. I also noted that Julian received a red mark in his agenda. Why is there a color system for behavior in EC Pre-K?

I called Julian’s teacher the next morning. She detailed the behaviors that Julian displayed at school the day before. Apparently, he was crying a lot, he was eating out of the trash can instead of eating his regular meals, and he wouldn’t walk with the rest of the class. His teacher emphasized that she could not carry Julian around because she had to tend to the other students as well.

These behaviors that she was describing were not foreign to me. As a matter of fact, they shouldn’t have been foreign to the teacher either. I literally wrote her a synopsis of Julian’s personality and behaviors, months before he started school.

The second and third days of school were no better. Julian’s teacher told me that she was going to cut his school days in half so that he could get used to school. I reluctantly agreed. The fourth and fifth days were no better. Julian’s school days were cut even further to three days a week.

Everyday was a new was a new complaint about his behavior. Everyday revealed a red color on his agenda. There was another phone conference. Julian’s teacher told me that he needed one-on-one education, and that “the county doesn’t provide that”.

I was really starting to feel like my child is a burden to the school system. Does his behavior offend you that bad? Does Julian being himself offend you that bad? This just affirms why I barely have a social life. Maybe I’m better off homeschooling my baby.

Unfortunately, I live in a county that doesn’t have much money or resources. My family lives in this county because the cost of living suits our budget. Why does my child have to be given scraps? Our governments will find money when it’s convenient for them, but my autistic child can’t receive better supports because we live in a “poor” county?

There was one day that Julian received a purple color. Finally! I was so happy to see that! It turned out that he wasn’t feeling well that day. He didn’t do anything but lie down all day.

It turns out that Julian had the flu. He got sicker by the day. I held him out of school for over two weeks. Not once did his teacher call to check in. Now, I’m not saying that teachers are obligated to make house calls. However, if your student was missing from school for more than two weeks, wouldn’t you be the least bit curious?

Maybe Julian is too much like Julian. Maybe my son’s unwillingness to adapt annoys you. Is that why my autistic son a burden to you?

If you are interested in jewelry, I sell paparazzi jewelry through my business, “Antonia’s Glamsc8pe”. Feed your $5.00 habit at my online store:

https://www.antoniasglamsc8pe.com

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Lifestyle

Quitting Made Me Happy(This Time)

Many of my fellow upper classmates were putting in their college applications during the 2005-2006 school year. I was not optimistic about college at all. I was ready to get the ABSOLUTE hell out of high school. I didn’t even know if I was going to graduate at that time.

I remember firing up my mother’s dial-up internet so that I could submit an application to George Mason University. Filling out that application made my self-esteem rise a little bit. After I filled out my application, I asked my father to front me some money so that I could submit my application. My father was reluctant to pay that NON-REFUNDABLE, $40 fee for my college application, but he did it. 

As my father entered his credentials on the keyboard, I just knew that he was having flashbacks of all of the D’s on my latest report card. My father is very blunt and more realistic than optimistic. I was a lazy student who did just enough to get by. He might have not believed that I would get into George Mason, but it meant the world to me that he was willing to waste his money. 

Yep, he wasted his money. I knew that thin ass envelope was a rejection letter before I even opened it. I decided to just focus on trying to graduate and then I would get a job. 

I was able to play catch-up in most of my classes. I knew I needed grace from God Almighty to pass Physics. Do you know why I elected to take Physics? It sounded like a class that would make me seem intelligent if I had it on my transcript. I didn’t know that this class would be a hybrid between science and math. My worst subjects in one existed package.

I was several points shy of passing that class for graduation. I needed an A on my final assignment. Where was this A going to come from? It certainly wasn’t coming from me. 

My Physics teacher was OBSESSED with the Pittsburgh Steelers. I mean, this man’s classroom was decked out in memorabilia. The decor was more interesting than the class. The Steelers just happened to advance to the Super Bowl in 2006, along with the Seattle Seahawks. My teacher wagered a deal for all of his students: If the Steelers win the Super bowl, every student will get 60 extra credit points added to their final assignment. February 5, 2006 was the first time that I watched a football game. 

I anxiously watched the Super Bowl game on my 19 inch Durabrand television. I had no idea what was going on. I just knew I was rooting for the Steelers. My parents knew why I was watching the game. Let’s just say, they were not amused. The Steelers ended up claiming the victory, and I was clear to receive my diploma. My father, the realist, wanted to see the diploma in my hand before he would accept that as reality.

As the school year was coming to a close, a lot of students began bragging about college acceptance letters. I was slightly jealous, but I had a job interview to look forward to. 

My mother took me to a job fair at an IKEA on a Saturday morning. For some odd reason, I volunteered to the interviewer that I was terrible at math. To my surprised, she still hired me. I began working part-time because I was still in school. I had completely pushed the idea of college out of my mind.

After I graduated(My father got his proof), I started working full-time at IKEA. I didn’t even finish working the summer before I was fired. I got another job where my older sister worked because she was know as a hard and excellent worker. There was no interview. I was always known at work as “Angelica’s sister”. I think five people actually called me by my government name. 

I made a few friends at work. I was always hanging out when I was not working. Little did I know, I was about to go through a life-changing experience.

Nope, I still didn’t get into college. In February 2007, I found out that I was 7 weeks pregnant. I was terrified, and I had so many factors working against me. However, I decided to parent my child. I gave birth later that year, and I had no idea that I was in for one Hell of a ride. 

My mother wouldn’t let me sit around and feel sorry for myself. My mother and father were young parents. They raised five badass children. We weren’t the “My kids are going to save the world!” type of badasses. We were the “You better be grateful for a mother’s love.” type of badasses. My mother knew how hard life was going to be. Still, she believed in me. She was the optimist.

I made the decision to attend college because I was convinced that I would make bank if I had a degree. I needed good money because I had a child.

In 2010, I first attended college at a local campus. I briefly enrolled in cosmetology, before switching my major to Business. The atmosphere reminded me of high school all over again. Students were late. Students slept. 

I was “Students”. Still, I managed to complete my work and make decent grades. Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting what I needed from this school. I was taking classes that I didn’t necessarily need. I became discouraged and withdrew from school. Are you sensing commitment issues? 

A dear friend introduced me to the University of Phoenix online school. I enrolled at the end of 2013. Only 17 of my 36 community college credits transferred. I was PISSED. Still, I carried on. 

In June 2015, I finally obtained an Associate Degree in Business Administration. I immediately jumped into the Bachelor’s program. I was on a roll. I devoted so much to my schoolwork. I was working during and after childbirth labor. I even carved out time for schoolwork during my annual family vacations. 

Up next, was my Bachelor’s Degree. After I completed 18 class credits, I was awarded with a certificate in Business Administration. In 2017, I  obtained my full Bachelor’s Degree. I took some time away from my studies for a few months before getting back to work. This time, I was hungry for a Master’s Degree. I wanted to maximize the amount of money that I could earn. A higher degree meant a higher pay, right? 

I was worn out. Being a stay-at-home mom and keeping up with my schoolwork was starting to take it’s toll on my mental health. My grades started slipping, and I ended up on academic probation. I was crushed. Nothing else that I achieved mattered the moment that I saw that “academic probation” status. I took another break before I started my last three classes. I felt like I owed myself that much. After I exhausted my leave of absences, I returned to school.

I begrudgingly began the final classes of my Master’s program. I did fairly well in the next class. In fact, my GPA rose a little bit. It seemed like every A spiked my overall grade by .000001%, but every F would tank my overall grade by at least 500%. 

Going into my second to last class, I was optimistic. Unfortunately, my teacher was a harsh grader. I was writing two papers every week. It seemed that my teacher was never satisfied with my work. I framed a lot of my assignments around being a stay-at-home mom because I wasn’t a rocket scientist, like my classmates. I guess that wasn’t good enough. Still, I escaped that class with a B-.

I entered my last class with very little gas in the tank. I had another teacher who was a tough grader. I was OVER it. 

I was dealt a harsh blow. My teacher gave me an F on my week one assignment. I didn’t understand his rationale. I spent many hours on this paper. I broke down. I cried on and off for two days. I watched my grade drop from an A to a G+. 

Once I recovered, I did what I do best. Can you guess what that was? Yes, I dropped out. Yes, I did. I dropped out of school just one class shy of obtaining a Master’s Degree. It was late in 2019.

I was no longer able to handle the emotional toll. I was a 31 year old wife with 6 young children. I was putting an unreasonable amount of pressure on myself, and school just became too much of a commitment.

As soon as I submitted my request for withdrawal, I could feel my brain cells repairing themselves. I felt a huge wave of peace wash over me. I knew in that moment that I had made the right decision.

As expected, my academic advisor called me. I almost immediately regretted answering the phone. He kept pushing me, but I wouldn’t budge. He knew what my home life was like, but it was almost as if he wanted me to put my family on the back burner. I began to think that this man was going to get a check if I graduated from my program. 

Well, I apologize for stopping his bag, but I was firm in my decision. His pushy attitude was not helping to reverse my decision. My advisor continued to call until I put his number on the “Do not disturb” list. 

Honestly, I didn’t even like school. For all of those years, I held onto the mentality that having a college education would guarantee this massive income. I had been studying for a Master’s Degree and was still unsure of what I wanted to do for my career. 

That’s no different from today. I was sure that  if I did not have children, I would not have gone to school. I genuinely felt like I had wasted my time.

School was never for me. I had to have this realization about myself. School became a way for me to impress my parents. I never did this for me. Obtaining degrees was a way to make me feel worthy. Going to school never made me happy.

I enjoyed the praise that I received from my parents. I was in an imaginary race with my siblings to become the favorite child. I loved my name being attached to something other than birth certificates.

Yet, people still believe in me. Despite my struggles to believe in myself, there are people who still cheer me on. My mother, the optimistic, still prays for me. My father, the realistic, still loves me. My friends still encourage me. 

 I went to college to get more knowledge. Surprisingly, I learned more about myself than I ever knew.

Today, I enjoy my peace. I enjoy not having to worry about deadlines, or being judged for how I interpret different lessons. Most of all, I enjoy not feeling validated by a piece of paper.

I may not have my feet on the ground yet, but I think I’m close to landing.