Evan and Lulu,
Two years ago I set off on a mission to complete graduate school. I was 28 at the time, I had been out of college for close to 4 years, and I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship that I could not pass on. The timing was far from ideal. You two were ages 31/2 and 18 months. I was working three jobs. I couldn’t afford our mortgage. I was single. I wasn’t even certain I would be a good librarian. But sometimes in life you just jump. Sometimes you stand stiffly and feel the breeze and wait for the perfect moment to break your stance. Othertimes, you just jump.
I jumped because I couldn’t afford not to. I knew without an education I could never be the mother you deserved. I jumped because I love you both too much to have to spend your entire lives barely skipping by. I jumped for myself, because I believe everyone should love what they do so passionately that they take a leap even when it doesn’t seem to make sense.
I jumped and I discovered that the place I landed in was not where I wanted to be. I was shackled to a computer for two years and when I paused to raise my head ever so slightly, I saw your childhood’s whizzing by. I despised everything about graduate school, except the most important part of it: it will allow me to do what I love most for the rest of my life. (And no I don’t mean play with puppets. I mean to HELP people. Well, and play with puppets) I lowered my head and trudged on knowing that someday it would be worth it.
I watched as Lulu devised up a game called “homework” where she pounded keys on her toy computer and relentlessly ignored us when we tried to speak to her. I watched as you both grew frustrated of hearing the word “no” over and over again when you asked if we could do something. I watched, and I watched, and I watched. From a distance. Always typing.
Today is the day that is worth it. Today I am done. I hope that someday you will look back on these years and…. well, honestly, I hope you won’t remember them at all. But if you do, I hope you will remember the friends and family that made it possible. I hope you will cherish the times that they swooped in and rescued you, even though it was a result of me being incapable in that moment. How you had camp outs with Audra in her living room. How Mike would take your for hours at a time with no real plan other than “stay away from the house for several hours”, which always ended up being the best adventures. How your Grandma and Grandpa and aunts and uncles are the best relatives in the world who saved your minds from boredom and softened your frustration toward me just a tad.
I don’t believe in bragging (much) and I’ve never believed that grades are an indicator of our effort or success. However, the other day I was driving Evan home from the Boys and Girls Club and she said something profound, like she often does. When I picked her up that day she told me “my teacher wants to talk to you” and I immediately grimaced at the thought. However, I was pleasantly surprised when the teacher wanted to tell me what a delight Evan is and how helpful she is. Once we got into the car I glanced back at Evan and gave her that mom look that I hope says “you are the greatest thing I”ve ever done with my life.” Ev, you looked at me and said “I’m really, really proud of myself.” It made me realize that humbleness aside, there are moments in life where we should feel an overwhelming sense of pride.
This is one of those moments for me. I am finished with graduate school. I worked full time during it. I graduated with a 4.0. I lost sleep. I lost friends. I lost some opportunities. But at least I didn’t lose you. I will spend the next 16 years trying to make it up to you. But I jumped, and I know it was worth it. I hope someday you will agree. If you don’t, then you each owe me about $10,000.
May you find many things worth jumping for.