Have you ever had one of those moments where all of the pivotal experiences in your life are flashed right before your eyes? No, not like when you think you are going to die, but quite the contrary. When you feel like you have reached a huge milestone or when you feel like time is passing, moving forward, or when the culmination of all your hard work is brought to the forefront. It is usually the kind of moment that lasts but a few minutes. I had one of these instances a few months ago.
I was driving to the university campus for my first year review as a doctoral student in bilingual and bicultural education. A first year review occurs after you have accumulated a certain number of hours and professors in the department have the opportunity to determine whether a student can remain in the program, remain under conditions, or ask a student to leave if they decide that someone is not a right fit, more or less. I have actually been in the program for three years, but because I have either had to work full time or was busy having a baby it has taken me slightly longer, which is something I am one hundred percent okay with.
At any rate, I was driving on the interstate thinking about the work sample I had submitted and the possible conversation that would occur with the professors in my department when I could feel that my dad was right there next to me in the passenger seat. I was not alone as much as I feel like I am on this long, hard, and often tumultuous journey as mom-phd-student. I felt his presence and support which made me think about key events in my life that have shaped who I am today.
I remembered the first day of kindergarten and waiting in line to find my name written on a paper cut red apple and seeing one of my friends from the neighborhood crying. I remember thinking to myself, “Why is she crying? We are going to kindergarten!!!” I remembered performing a ballet recital when I was around 10 and feeling nervous yet excited to have my family there supporting me. I thought about the first few days, maybe weeks after my father passed away and how hard it was for me and my sisters to adjust without him. I thought about graduating as an undergrad and thinking how I almost did not make it as I was put on academic probation my first semester at the same university where I am now pursueing a PhD. I also thought about my mother and all of the years in high school when she would emphasize the importance of studying and only having to really wear jeans and a blouse to school instead of all the stylish clothes my sisters and I fought over. I thought about my wedding day and how proud I was to have my mother walk me down the aisle and lastly I thought about giving birth and how empowered it made me feel. By the time I got to campus that morning I felt a sense of peace. I knew that I had already accomplished enough to make me feel fulfilled. I know this is a morbid thought, but the truth is that my father passed away at a very young age and these are thoughts that cross my mind every so often, I thought that if I were to pass away now I think I would feel fulfilled…for the most part.
So, I arrived to campus, parked the car, walked to the school of education and felt at ease to talk to a group of seven professors. I had already met and overcome so many challenges in my life time…what was another thirty minutes.