I had my children young. I successfully finished my tenth grade year (minus one credit), had a month of summer break and celebrated my seventeenth birthday before labor started. On June thirtieth I woke up feeling funny. I had cramps and felt very uncomfortable but didn’t think anything of it because during the last half of my pregnancy I was put on bed rest due to a short cervix. I thought these feelings were just caused by being stuck in bed or on a couch for months when I’m used to being on the go all the time. Some other things happened through the day but I won’t get into them here because they are kind of nauseating.
My mother came home from work and I told her about everything that had happened. She said to call the hospital because it sounded like labor. When I finally got a nurse on the other end I explained everything and they said to just lay down and relax, labor was probably starting but it could be hours or even days before I was ready. A few hours later I was in agony, another call to the hospital and they said to come in so they could check things out. My mom and I headed out for the forty-five minute drive to the hospital around ten at night.
Long story short, my mom was right after all and my daughter decided to make her big entrance three weeks early on Canada Day. I was terrified to be a mom before she was born and had no idea what I was going to do. As soon as I saw her everything felt right, I wasn’t scared anymore and told myself I would figure it out as I went.
I took a year off school to be a mom and work. I returned to school in what should have been my grade twelve year and I was miserable. I found it hard to sit in a classroom, I was bullied relentlessly by other students and even school staff. I fell back into my old routine. I skipped classes – only going to collect some school work to do at home and hand in at a later date. I skipped school entirely some days so I could be home with my daughter instead. I had been in the real world for a full year, something none of these other students had done. I was a mother, no one else was. I lost friends, spending most of my days alone.
I ended up expelled for skipping, I was angry and fought with a guidance counselor and vice principal, but ended up walking out before the police came. I was angry because no one bothered to ask why I was skipping, no one cared that I was being bullied – pushed into lockers, knocked onto the floor, locked out of classes, called every derogatory name you can think of – not one person cared.
Fast forward almost ten years and two more kids. I decided I wanted to graduate. I had tried over the years with the GED, Independent Learning Courses and Adult Learning Centers. Everything I tried was unsuccessful. The GED book was huge and boring (I’m a hands-on learner so books were never my thing), ILC courses were dry with no support, and Adult Learning Centers just wanted me to sit at a desk and do school work to prepare for writing the GED. I already knew I couldn’t sit in a classroom setting so that didn’t work.
After having my third child at twenty six, I was having a routine visit with a public health nurse when she asked about my past. She wanted to know what my goals were. Up until this point my only goal was to get through life as a young mom and raise my kids the best I could. But when she asked me about my goals, it just slipped out of my mouth, without even thinking about my answer I heard “I want to graduate high school” slip through my lips. It was just a thought before this moment, it was never a goal – just something I would have liked to do. And that’s when it all started.
She told me about a program for adults that is funded and run by the local school board. It wouldn’t cost anything, I could do most of the work from home, and other than working on my computer a little more than I already did, nothing in my life would have to change. I made the phone call the next day, met with a guidance counselor the next week and was enrolled. I had no idea that this was a goal of mine but I was on my way to finally graduating!
The program gave me credits without any work involved for certain things – when you’re an adult student in this program you can earn credits just because you pay rent, have your own business, or have created a resume. I only needed five more credits to graduate so I was set up with co-op for three of them then would just need to do an English course and science assessment. I completed my co-op through continuing my volunteering at my children’s school, the principal acting as my supervisor. I spent more than three hundred and thirty hours at the school or doing things for the school at home in this school year. I attempted the English course through the ILC again but it was still dry with no support so I registered for the adult night course through the program. I completed the ten week English course within seven weeks then moved on to science. I had to fill out a workbook that included enough course work to cover two full grades, I did it in two days. I studied half of one of the units then ran out of time because my kids needed me. I wrote the full assessment in forty-five minutes, hoping and praying that I would know the answers and get a good enough mark to pass. I did! It took me nine months to go from high school drop-out to high school graduate. I am currently waiting on my diploma to come in the mail and there is a graduation ceremony in a couple of weeks where I will finally get to wear a cap and gown. Another amazing thing that happened through this program was that I was nominated and won the Award of Excellence for all my volunteer work. The ceremony for that is on my birthday next week.
Before this program I had no idea that I had real goals. I was just a stay at home mom with a direct sales business trying to stay sane. Now that I have figured out that I need goals in my life, the sky is the limit! I realized that when you set a goal for yourself – an attainable goal – it gives you a feeling of purpose. It can be a life milestone like working towards your graduation, or it could be something smaller like getting into a daily exercise routine. As long as you set goals for yourself and work towards meeting them, you will be successful. Every goal met is a success, no matter how small. This program made me realize that you must set goals, especially if you’re a mom. Moms don’t really get very much for themselves so setting goals for themselves – not their families – helps to make them happier and feel more successful, even if they are an unemployed stay at home mom. Every mom deserves to feel successful. Every mom needs goals in their life.
Have you set any goals for yourself lately?