Monday, September 27, 2010

Give Me an "A" (Aaaagh!) -- by Jamie Levine

Being back in school certainly has its rewards, and most importantly, it’s validated the fact that I’m a strong, independent woman who can take care of my child in the face of adversity; I lost my job over a year ago, and I’m embarking on a new career that will prove more stable and lucrative than my former one. But I gotta tell you…I am SO SO SO tired of studying. I’m exhausted—physically and mentally. I can name all the lobes of the brain—even the parts and functions of the brain stem. I can spit out the formula for measuring the intensity level of sound. And I can talk to you about language acquisition until you wish I’d never acquired any language myself! Most of what I’m studying is important stuff—and I need to know it. But I just wish I didn’t need to get A’s on all of my tests…and A’s in all of my classes. Mind you, I could never be a slacker…but I dream of only aiming for B’s. Boy would that take the pressure off me. Honestly, it’s what I dream of doing in grad school.

However, right now, I need to compete. My future, and more importantly, my daughter’s future, is banking on my grad school plan—and I need to get into a good program. So I’m constantly studying. The other morning, I sleepily opened the New York Times as I drank my coffee, and Jayda, who was watching TV, glanced over and asked, with a note of surprise in her voice, “Mommy—why aren’t you reading your text book?” It was a reasonable question, since I’m always perusing a text book when I’m home and Jayda doesn’t need me to pay attention to her. We’ve even made a deal that Jayda can sit on my lap to watch a TV show before bed…as long as I can read one of my text books while she’s doing it (wasting 30 minutes of study-time on “Hannah Montana” is out the question for me!).

Jayda recently started a new nursery school—and we both adore it. With its large playgrounds and array of exciting activities, Jayda is both physically and mentally stimulated all day long; she’s very tired when the bus brings her home at 4:30, and that means that she’s fast asleep by 7:30 p.m. most days. The new Fall season has started on TV, but you wouldn’t know it in my house—I haven’t watched an adult TV show since I enrolled in college last Spring. Really. And this former book worm sadly has no time for novels either. During the week, when Jayda falls asleep, I do work—be it school work or freelance work—until I’m too sleepy to stay awake. And unfortunately, that’s often the drill for me on weekend nights, too (though I do make exceptions to go out on dates now and then, or out for drinks with the girls…but not nearly often enough).

I’m not complaining. Or, well, maybe I am. But this is the path I chose to take…and I’m sticking to it. I just wish grades didn’t matter so much (and/or that I wasn’t such a perfectionist!). I really am enjoying my classes; most of my professors are wonderful, and the material is engaging and inspiring. It’s just a lot to study. Especially when my test scores need to be perfect. And I’m tired. Really tired. I’d like to watch a movie one evening—and not worry constantly about the study-time I’m wasting. I’d like to make a lengthy, unimportant call to one of my friends from a place other than my car while I’m commuting (I can’t study in the car, so it’s my only “free” zone). And I’d like to be able to not get stressed on the nights my daughter does stay up later than usual—and not worry so much about my “lost” study time that evening. Even writing my blog seems trivial sometimes—until I remind myself that I’m writing for Jayda; all of my blogs are for her.

My college is closed for the entire month of January, and I will not be memorizing anything that month except for Jayda’s smile when she’s laughing at her favorite TV shows. And as much as I hate “Hannah Montana,” perhaps I’ll be watching along with her. But one thing’s for sure—it’s the first time in my life that I’m really looking forward to the middle of winter!


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