And as for what I’m going to do now? Well firstly, I’m going to slow. . .down. . .and then, I’m going to do a whole lot of nothing. Or as close to nothing as one can do when you’re a wife and mother. There’ll probably a bottle of wine and straw involved. . .
So, this week I have been at orientation for school. Every day from 8am to 12pm, I’ve been bombarded with expectations, available resources, best practices, course scheduling, long-lines at the bookstore and fractions. Yes, fractions. I knew that there was some degree of mathematical knowledge involved with nursing, but to be slammed with the addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of fractions at 8am on a Monday morning is cruel and unusual punishment.
Now, I’m a Type A personality, an endearing character quirk that has consistently served me in good stead ‘lo these 30 years of mine. Before going back to school for anatomy last year, I invested in a teach-yourself-math workbook. Notice I said “invested in”, as opposed to “opened and used”. Yeah, that joker sat pristine for the past year on a shelf in my closet until about two weeks ago. In the orientation packet, there was one brief line about a math assessment and seriously, I saw my life flash before my eyes. And then I remembered the work-book. So I pulled it out, blew the dust off of the cover and started Chapter 1, Basic Mathematics. Then Season 1 of True Blood came in the mail on Netflix and well. . .here we are.
Math and I have never gotten along. In fact, one of the lowest grades I ever received was in math. In more fact, aside from getting a violation for talking in Chemistry, the only other mark on my school discipline came from my algebra teacher. I had long come to the realization that I had a bad attitude towards math. I didn’t get it, therefore, I didn’t like it, therefore, I chose to just eke out passing grades and deal with it later. Shocking, I know, but truly, I couldn’t stomach it. So, having embraced that mentality, I thought nothing of sticking whatever fiction book I was reading into my algebra book and reading that during class. Of course, the teacher had been calling on me, I hadn’t been paying attention and the charade came crashing down like my test scores over the semester.
How bad did it get? How about in sophomore geometry, when we were learning proofs, I put CPCTC for every answer on a test. Every. Single. Answer. I just looked at those proofs and knew absolutely nothing.
Fast forward to my A&P class first semester last year. My professor was talking about how tough the course was going to be, how the attrition rate was astronomical, and so on and so forth. She then went on to say that if we had a good attitude towards the class, if we acted excited when we opened our books, we’d basically trick our brains into retaining more info because we’ve been telling ourselves that A&P was the shiggity! Can you say, “skeptical”?
That little nugget of info remained with me. This past week, as we’ve continued to work on fractions, percents, and ratios, I’ve tried to get happy about it. I’ve tried positive self-talk. I’ve admitted to myself that while Math and I have agreed to disagree, we will make a truce for the sake of my impending nursing career. I will open up desirable accommodations in my memory bank and decorate it any which way Math wants, so long as the concepts move-in for an extended stay.
As the week draws to a close, I can quite honestly say that I have become quite oriented to what the next 24 months of school will be like. Seeing as I already broke the seal on my 60 pound Concepts of Nursing book, I guess I’ll be staying, fractions and all.
So school is all but here. I mean, it’s not even leaping out at me. It’s all up in my face like I owe it some money, plus interest. I find myself doing a nesting of sorts. In pregnancy, around month six or seven, the uncontrollable urge to clean, to prepare, to tie up loose ends and organize your existence overwhelms any other rational thoughts an expectant mother may have. I’ve got the uncontrollable urge to fill up my days doing things — something, anything, occasionally nothing.
I’ve pulled out recipes I’ve been wanting to try. I’ve baked, grilled, and fried, filling the fridge with all kinds of goodies for us to pick on throughout the week. I’ve gone to the zoo, the Botanical Gardens, Busch Gardens, and made a circuit of the outdoor YMCA pools. I’ve gone to the malls, the library, the variety of parks at our disposal. I’ve trolled all over Norfolk looking for mermaids. I’ve read at least half a dozen books in the past eight days. I’ve dug out old journals, deciphering my coded chicken scratch, amazed at my taut angst, quick wit, and ferocious vocabulary. I pulled a wad of love letters from DH down from the shelf and read one each night before I slammed down into sleep.
I’ve written more blog entries in the last couple of days than I did in the first half of the summer. I don’t have anything witty or interesting to say; I just want to feel as though I’ve done something these past several months.
April 24th, 2009. The last day of classes, my nursing school pre-requisites have been completed. The summer stretched out before me, a promise of beaches, lazy days, and shimmering heat. Nothing but potential and possibility. I know that when it’s all said and done, no one is tallying up how much time you spent organizing playgroups, how many trips to the bay you managed, how entertained and occupied you and your family were. There are no prizes for the most overstimulated, over scheduled family. I somehow can’t shake the feeling that I could have done something else, that we should have piled in the car and taken another mystery ride or trip to the zoo. I know there is one more mermaid that we haven’t discovered.
As school approaches, my GI tract starts pairing off and doing the pasodoble. My anxiety is steadily climbing in conjunction with the temperatures of late. I’m wondering if we’ve done enough? Did we have enough fun? Did we get enough sun and drink enough pool water? Did we hang out with our friends enough? Did we get bitten by mosquito as we chased the ice cream truck down the street? Did we eat enough ice cream? Did we grill as many steaks as we could have? And even if when the answer is yes, yes, and again, yes, would I really think it’s enough?
See, when school starts, my defense mechanism for this stress is to shut down and focus solely on the responsibilities at hand: the girls, DH, the house, myself (note the order there — what would Freud or Gloria Steinem say?). Until I can figure out what I need to do and the amount of effort I need to do it well, everything else falls to the ground. When my responsibilities start settling around me, when we turn the clocks back and everything gets thrown into darkness at 3:30 in the afternoon, I’m going to reach into my sack of summer memories. I’ll pull out our first foray into mermaid finding, our margarita and munchies night with the neighbors. I’ll wrap my hands around that brief glimpse of DH whirling the girls in the air, of Mo finally getting the hang of how to peddle her trike, of Co catching her first firefly. Those memories are going to have to sustain me until the next stretch.