The Seven Year Itch

There are some things that women of a certain age should never consider doing.  Opening a brothel comes to mind.  Divorcing someone because you want the bed to yourself. Wearing a bikini.  Starting a master’s program when you have kids in middle school and a full time job.

Okay, so I didn’t know that the last one was going to be a problem when I did it.  It was moral, legal, and I could wear clothes, after all.

When I received the letter confirming my acceptance to graduate school, I read the fine print.  I had seven years to complete the degree.  Seven years?  Who in the world needs seven years to finish a program?  You register for a couple of classes a semester, finish the classes, write a thesis, defend it, and you’re done, right?  How hard could THAT be?

Um…did I mention that my children were in middle school when I applied?

A lot of things happened in seven years.  They grew up.  We moved four times.  I sold one house and supervised the building of another one.  My husband changed careers. I moved my mother into assisted living.  With each life change, Mom’s Master’s Degree Doomsday Clock kept ticking to May 2012 – the deadline.   I think I had my gall bladder removed at some point during those years, too…but can’t remember.  Wait. That’s not right.  I can remember that I no longer have a gall bladder.  I just can’t remember when it was removed.  Graduate school does that to you.

The only thing I know for sure is that reaching this goal got really difficult. It kept getting pushed farther and farther back on the Mom’s Things to Do Before She Dies shelf.  My degree completion timeline taunted me…nagged me….made me itchy.   But I come from a long line of stubborn Scandinavian women known for taking care of business.  Women who lived in sod huts and log cabins.  Who went out behind the barn, lifted their skirts, birthed babies, and went back in to start supper.  You know the type of woman I’m talking about.  Women who get shit done.

I delivered the final draft of my thesis a couple of weeks ago.  Three days short of the seven year deadline.

I am relieved and proud of this baby of mine and I think that my gown and master’s hood is quite lovely.  It will make a great beach cover up if I ever decide to wear a bikini.

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