I often feel like the odd man out. Here, I'm the wanna-be doctor mom. At school, I'm the 27 year old sophomore who has been married for almost ten years and has two kids. At the kids' events, I'm the young mom, 27 with a 9 and 6 year old (I'm often mistaken for the big sister). In parenting circles, I'm the mom with a medically-needy kid...nobody else is dealing with tube feeds, a half dozen specialists, bi-weekly therapies, and med schedules. With friends, I'm usually the odd one out on all accounts...our friends are just starting to get married for the most part, they are childless, and they are out of school. Sometimes I feel like I've done everything in reverse. I graduated at 16, got married at 17, had my first child at 18...I didn't figure out who I was or what I wanted to do until much, much later in life, and of course even that isn't typical or easy. When you stick out all the time, it is easy to feel like you aren't doing anything right. It is tough to be a premed student/mother of both a typical and atypical kid/wife/volunteer/friend/human and there is a lot of juggling involved. At times I wonder if I'm crazy to even be attempting this, but then a well-timed bit of encouragement helps restore my faith in this endeavor and my ability to see it through.
Math isn't my subject. It never has been. In grade school, math was the only subject I was allowed to make B's in. I chose my major based on the fact I only have to go up to Cal I...not Cal III like some other science majors. However, I made a 110 on the first exam in PreCal this semester AND my professor sought me out during class to try to poach me for the math department! She told me about a math major premed she knew who went on to do very well and now works in medical modeling. She said, "Not everyone is so gifted in math, you know!" I never thought I'd hear something like that!
I'm taking Cancer Biology this semester. It is a special topic class, which means it is a higher level course and it isn't always on the schedule. The hard pre-reqs are Bio I and II and Chem I and II, but on the first day, the professor said, "If you haven't taken Biochem and Genetics, you should definitely think about dropping." I haven't had either, but I stuck it out. We had our first exam a few weeks ago, a comprehensive midterm. I made 303 neon notecards for it and studied a lot. The night before the exam, we had tickets to the Rodeo. The kids really wanted to go and I didn't want to disappoint them, but I knew the exam was going to be tough. I studied very hard that week and opted to go to the Rodeo with the family the night before the exam. After we got home, I hit the books again and everyone else went to bed. The next day in class, I was the first one done with the exam (which was mostly short answer and essay, no multiple choice). I re-read my exam a few times and submitted it. I hate being the first one done...did I do really well or really poorly? Ack! The following class period, the professor handed back exams. She pulled me aside and said, "You're the one who finished in 45 minutes, right? And you got an A?! That is the best use of time I have ever seen!" Then she said, "Aren't you the one who emailed me about your daughter having pneumonia a couple of weeks back?" I nodded and she went on to say, "And you're doing all of this with kids at home? I'm so impressed at how well you are balancing everything!" That kind of recognition felt really amazing, especially because prepping for that exam and spending time with the family had been a bit of a balancing act.
I went out to dinner with my best friend (who is also my sister-in-law) last week, and she said, "I always use you as an example all of the time when I'm talking to people." I looked at her quizzically and ask, "What kind of example?" She said, "When I'm talking to people and they say they can't do something for any reason...like they are unexpectedly pregnant and can't finish school or whatever. I tell them about you and how you didn't to things in the 'right' or 'normal' way, but that you are premed now and doing really well with everything." That might be the highest praise, because it came from someone who knows me almost as well as I know myself.
It is amazing the effect a few encouraging words can have on your outlook and commitment. I hope that at whatever stage of this game you are at, you have people cheering you on and helping you see how well you are doing in the various aspects of your life. If there is one thing I've learned, it is that this kind of life is a circus and all the MiMs I know are extremely gifted jugglers. We all deserve a round of applause every now and then.
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