This weekend, things slowly returned to normal around here. My mother-in-law returned to Minneapolis, to a husband with a new knee.
The week preceding it had been a little stressful. My son's insurance autopay hits at the beginning of the month-- as does my tuition payment and rent. Somehow I pulled more than a thousand bucks out of my ass-- some good shifts, and a couple of picked-up shifts helped a great deal. As the final week of my mother-in-law's stay coincided with my second week back to school, I felt the grind.
Kim and Mel drove my mother-in-law back to Minneapolis, leaving Adam and I to have a guy's weekend here. I switched shifts with a friend of mine, so I worked Friday instead of Saturday, so that we had a rare Saturday night together. Adam had mentioned how it was in the old days, when it was just he and I; I'd buy cheese pizzas at Aldi's and we'd make our own pizzas, custom-topping it with our chosen ingredients. I got him a cheese pizza, and got myself the gluten-free pizza crusts that the Jewel's grocery store near our home now sells, and we went to town, topping our pizzas with turkey italian sausage, turkey pepperoni, veggies and a bunch of other healthy goodies; we've made an agreement to both lose weight, and I have to get my blood pressure down, before my doctor carries out her threat to put me on blood pressure meds. We ate our dinner and then streamed a Netflix movie we'd chosen.
He went back to his mother's house on Sunday, and on Monday I had something I hadn't had in ages: a day to myself.
I knew I should have been studying-- my textbook finally arrived on Friday, but I took a little time to kick back, get some stuff done around here and indulge a little in watching "Pawn Stars" (or, as my son calls it, "White Trash Antiques Road Show") on the History Channel.
As I got ready to finally sit down and study last night, I recognized the I had a pretty high level of anxiety. I took a half-hour walk in the lovely, cool Chicago evening, musing about the changes in the neighborhood in the last 24 years I've mostly lived here, and in the changes in my life. Fatherhood, unexpected career paths, old friendships that have grown stronger, new friendships, relationships, marriages. As I count down the months to my 50th birthday, which will coincide with finishing nursing school-- the same damned week, can you believe it?-- I'm alternately amazed and amused at the path my life has taken. I've quoted my old friend Michael before on this, and it bears repeating: "You want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans."
When I got home, I cracked my textbook, looking in the syllabus to see what I needed to read for Wednesday's class. I had to laugh out loud; it was the chapter on anxiety and anxiety meds.
A couple of years ago, when Cubs great Ryne Sandberg was inducted to the hall of fame, he was interviewed. He talked about a period of a couple of years when he left the game because of marital problems. He talked about how through his whole career, he would get butterflies in his stomach before each game. When that stopped, he knew his passion for the game had left. He took the time off, straightened out his situation and came back. The butterflies returned.
After I read and synthesized the material, I realized that I felt this way at the start of every class, and when cracking open every textbook. I have the irrational fear that I'm going to read it and not get it. And of course I always get the material in the end. And I know that it'll keep happening through the end of school.
Today, I had clinicals. I worked with a severely mentally ill patient, who I'll be working with for the next few weeks. On the way home, I talked to a classmate whom I catch a ride with every day about it all. We talked about the financial stresses this has caused each of us, what we sacrificed in time with our respective spouses and our kids, and sleep and everything else. And we both realized that we had no regrets whatsoever. In every regard, we had made the right decision to do this, from the standpoint of job satisfaction, economic future, job security, passion for what we do.
This journey, this path I've chosen, this decision I made over three years ago to get into the medical field is now within sight. A little over 29 weeks of school; 9 months of time. There are going to be some more months of pulling off financial miracles, some more time lost with my family, more lost sleep, more anxiety. But in the end, I"m confident I'll pull it off. In the end, there's a career in a field that not only fascinates me, but will give me the financial resources to fulfill the life goals that will require financial resources, and give me the peace of mind to pursue the ones that don't. And in the end, I realize that the sacrifices I made to do it will make it mean that much more to me.