mrsmomdragon

Sharing my adventures, thoughts and occassional jokes. Sorting through laundry, and a little bit of life…This is How I Train My Dragons…

It Was More Than a Hashtag

IMG_5422When I enrolled at UNC 2 years ago, I knew that I would be on an unforgettable journey to finish college. To get a chuckle out of others on social media, I immediately began a hashtag dubbed, #collegelifeat33. Before long, I found myself sharing my struggles, my jokes, my experience…my real life as a college student using the hashtag.  Then, I turned 34.  Now what? I simply changed it to #collegelifeat34 and kept on sharing and pushing forward.

This past week, I printed off most of my Instagram posts where I used this hashtag. As I was putting them on a display, Ray commented that he wished he had documented his college life the way that I did. I never meant to do that, but I’m so glad that I did. Looking back through all of the photos, I could remember taking each and every one of them. Now that I have crossed the finish line, it’s hard to believe that two years has already passed. But, it has and now I can look back fondly on all of these photos and remember what it took to get here.

College is hard, and college as a non-traditional student is no joke either. But I must say that college, this second time around, was amazing. The amount of support that I have received over the past two years has been incomprehensible. I don’t know how many times over the last few days I have heard, “thank you for sharing your journey with us!”. This hashtag has allowed me to share a piece of my life with many around me and though this hashtag I have received immense amounts of inspiration and encouragement in return.

This hashtag has taught me that it’s ok to be vulnerable and show my struggles and weaknesses because it’s through them that I have learned the most about myself. This hashtag has taught me that being funny helped me get through some really long and tough assignments and papers. This hashtag has taught me that being a nontraditional student really wasn’t that bad…and I can be hip just like the youngins’ these days. This hashtag has taught me that I am surrounded by some amazing friends and family who have been nothing but supportive this entire time. This hashtag has taught me that all of the long nights were worth it and that two years really does fly by. This hashtag has taught me that I CAN do it, because I DID (and so can YOU!)

So, HUGE thanks to those that have beared (see what I did there?) with me and have been with me every step of this crazy journey that I have had the pleasure of calling #collegelifeat34.  Without knowing it, you have helped me achieve this dream of mine to become a college graduate! Once a Bear, Always a Bear!

Although I’m excited for what the future holds, I must admit that I’m really going to miss this hashtag. Signing off #collegelifeat34. #crazychickenladycomininhot

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62 Days

When I left UNC back in 2004, I honestly never saw myself going back. Of course, when people asked, I would always give them the cookie cutter answer of, “I only have about 42 credits to finish…of course I’ll go back”…”I’ve come too far to not finish!”  But, deep down I knew that I would never go back. You see, once we had Emaleigh, my heart instantly changed. EVERYTHING I did was now for Ray and for Em. My dreams of going to college quickly vanished because my dream of becoming a mother had come true. (And I was completely ok with that)

A few years later, we had Elijah and luckily, when he was born, I was able to stay at home full time with my kids. Fast forward five years and Eydan was born; our 3 E’s and our life is complete.

Looking back over the last (almost) 13 years as a mom, I couldn’t have ever imagined a more important job to be trusted with. But now, as they are growing older and more independent by the day, I have realized it’s time to find a little bit of myself. Now don’t get me wrong, I have never lost myself in motherhood, I have just always been the type to put everyone else before me and I think that’s kind of par for a mom in general. I love taking care of others, but I have realized in the last few years that it’s also important to take care of myself and remind myself there is nothing wrong with that.

I realized the importance of that when I watched Ray across the graduation stage a few years ago. That’s when I decided, “it’s my turn!” Holy cow was that a hard decision to make, but it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Eydan was starting preschool, so technically all kids were in school. So, as you all know, I went back to college.

There have been days that I have wanted to quit. I missed a field trip. I couldn’t pick them up from school. I had to study while everyone watched a movie. I wanted to stay home with them on a Monday because they don’t have school. I was at the library studying when all I wanted to do is be home with my family.

I’m not going to lie…some days have just sucked. But you know what I’ve learned? Nothing that’s worth it ever comes easy! Just like when Ray was in school, as a family, we have had to make sacrifices. But you know what else is cool? My kids and husband are so unbelievably understanding and supportive because they know it’s something important to ME. They believe in me, and that is what has kept me going.

Being a wife and a mother has allowed me to learn to much about myself…yet, that’s not all I am. Although those two titles are the most important titles I have ever held, I can’t let them define me. Becoming a student again, I have also learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned what I’m capable of…not as a mother, but as Caiti. When I enrolled 2 years ago, it seemed like such a long road ahead and I had so much doubt in my head.

So.  Much.  Doubt.

But guess what? I graduate in 62 days. 62!! That, once seeming impossible, long road has turned into so much more than just becoming a college graduate. Although I might not be great at it, I have had to learn how to find some serious balance in my life. I have hated every single presentation, but have allowed myself to grow through each one. Each step of the way I have gained a little more confidence in myself and my favorite part of this is my family has been my cheering section through it all!

As a mother, I constantly have to remind myself that it’s not selfish to think of myself first every once in a while. I know that I am not alone in this! If you have a dream in your heart…go for it. I can’t wait to walk across that stage in 62 days, look out into the stands and see my kids sitting there, and know that it was all worth it.

God knows what He’s doing.  He knew I would struggle with missing a few things at home. He knew I’d cry the night before a presentation. He knew I was exhausted at times, but knew I could push myself further. He knew I would forget to put dinner in the crockpot before I left for class. He knew I would get behind on reading. He knew I would overbook cakes the week of finals. He knew I would have a mental breakdown at least once a semester. He knew I would hate to be called out in class. He knew all of the things that would make this difficult…but, He also knew that all of this would be worth it in the end. He knew I’d learn a lot about Caiti, and I did.

62 days.

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