Stage one: I survived a violent and difficult childhood yet still grew up to be creative and tenacious in what I wanted from life. I attended 18 schools in 8 years. My family lived in a several states and dozens of cities in those states. I graduated from high school without being pregnant. At 25, I married a man I did not know well and we lived in Japan. The marriage didn’t last, and I returned to the United States.
Stage two: I returned from Japan with a baby, a box of baby toys, a suitcase of our clothes, and a perspective about life and culture that I could not have gained had I not lived in that marriage. Back in the US, I had to figure out how I would rear the child and form a meaningful life for us. And it was hard. I worked a series of meaningless jobs that paid a little more per week than the cost of child care. We struggled.
Returning to school seemed an idiotic choice (as others told me), but I felt it was the right thing. I’d always wanted to go to college, but I didn’t know what it looked like. I didn’t know HOW to go to college. Nevertheless, I signed up for courses at the local community college. I reasoned that if I earned an AA degree, I’d get a “great” job and I could provide for my family. I continued to the BA degree then the MA degree, all the while rearing my daughter, providing her a home, being involved in the community and youth activities. I held full-time jobs while attending school, but with increasing amounts of education, I could get positions that allowed us to live a more comfortable life.
During this phase, my daughter grew to be a creative, generous, talented, and forceful young woman. She grew up in one neighborhood. She attended school with many of the same children throughout their 12 years of required education. She graduated from college and now is in graduate school. She is not a statistic.
Earning the Ph.D. was a struggle in and of itself for me. It took nine years, but it’s finished. Finally. With the Ph.D., I can move onto stage three of my life.
Stage three: It begins now. With all that has lead me to this point in my life, I am anticipating significant growth and change to occur in this stage. I’m ready for it. It begins now.