Friday, December 19, 2014

Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus...Kind of...

Santa. Kids love him, that is when they aren't screaming their heads off because you just plopped them on this strange man's lap in the mall. He knows when you have been bad, he knows when you have been good. You hope you're on the nice list this year and try to be good all year long so Santa will bring you something great.

I grew up with Santa. It was awesome. I would go to bed on Christams Eve after listening to my dad read "The Night Before Christmas" and setting out cookies and milk for santa and of course carrots for the reindeer. There were presents under the tree, but only a few. Then, I would wake up at the great hour of about 5am and burst out into our living room to see the most wonderous thing I could imagine. Presents, perfectly wrapped placed neatly under the tree. Often there was a "big ticket" toy assembled for me with a bow or ribbon on it. God bless my parents for those late night assemblies. Once it was a motorized Barbie Jeep, once it was a bike and once it was a baby doll crib. I would patiently stare at the presents until a semi-reasonable hour and then proceed to jump on my poor, sleeping and exhausted, parents and literally drag my older brothers out of their beds  by their foot with the proclamation that "Santa came! Santa came!!" It was more magical than a unicorn jumping on a cloud of cotton candy pooping sprinkles and glitter. I have absolutely no idea how my parents pulled that level of amazing off each and every year but they always did. Kudos mom and dad.

It would seem natural with such fantastic memories of Christmas and good ol' St. Nick that I would be taking that wrapping paper baton from my parents and carrying on our traditions. Well, I am...but I'm not.

When I tell people we don't "do" Santa they gasp in horror as if I have just drop kicked a puppy right in front of them. "But your children will miss out on all of the magic of Christmas!" "Why would you ruin their childhoods?!" "How mean of you!" they cry.

I promise I am not ruining my children. When we first had children, and even before, the topic of mythical holiday creatures had come up. Kenny and I grew up very differently in respects to these creatures. I had the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus but he didn't. I was fine with not doing the Easter bunny, although I will miss not carrying on my parent's tradition of creating bunny tracks with baby powder. I was also all for nixing the tooth fairy. That one is just plain annoying. Trying to keep a stash of cash in the house at all times in case of a loose tooth just sounds like too much bother. Then came the subject of Santa. Santa was mine. I loved Santa. No way was I giving him up. Kenny felt rather differently. It had been a point of disagreement for years between us but it's never really been much of an issue because our kids are so little. I have given it much thought and I have agreed to let go of Santa, but not completely.

When I say we don't "do" Santa. What I mean is I will not be telling my children that Santa is watching them from the North Pole. He does not send little creepy  mischievous elves to check on them and he does not come deliver presents to our house. They will still hear about Santa though. They will know him as a fun character, just like Mickey Mouse. They will know the spirit of giving, and they will most definitely know magic still exists. I will still make presents magically appear under the tree just like my parents did and our traditions will carry on through this next generation. I will still read them stories about Santa and tell them about the real St. Nick. They will sit on Santa's lap and scream while they have their picture taken. They will know it's pretend, but it doesn't make it any less fun. Their Christmas will still be filled with fun and lasting memories, they just might be a little different than yours.

I will tell them about the real reason we celebrate Christmas. It is because long ago a very special baby was born in a very un-spectacular way. Tucked away in a straw littered stable, under the watchful eye of farm animals and without fanfare baby Jesus was born. They will know this happy day for it's true meaning. They will know we are filled with joy not at the presents we received because we were "good" all year long and didn't touch the elf, but because we are overjoyed the Savior was born to save us.

When my kids eventually ask, "Is Santa real?" I will tell them the truth:
No, Santa the person is not real. The magic, and his spirit is though. There are real Santa's all over the Earth. Santa's who delight in giving, Santa's who help those in need, Santa's who spread love, peace and good cheer wherever they go. Santa's who make miracles happen. They just aren't always dressed in red with a belly like a big bowl of jelly. Sometimes they are your mom and dad, or a complete stranger.

Thankfully the kiddos are still so little they have absolutely no idea. We still have a few years and I know they won't be able to comprehend much of this for even longer. Still, even as an adult I know Santa isn't real, but that doesn't mean I don't believe. So when I say we don't do Santa, please don't look at me like I'm an axe murder. There will still be magic, there will still be joy, there will still be all of the amazing traditions. They will not be ruined, they will not miss out and they will not feel cheated. Conversely, I hope they will grow up to know the joy of giving, the value of love and the true meaning of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I Passed!


I woke up excited, nervous and surprisingly confident. I put on my scrubs, clipped my MCC badge to my shirt one last time. I rocked out to some Taylor Swift on my way, grabbed a pumpkin spice latte and reveled in the idea that this was the last time I would drive to MCC and sit in that classroom as a student.

My heart was racing, my mind was calm though. The previous night study session with some of my closest friends had told me I do know this stuff! I clicked begin and started answering. Question after question I kept clicking away. Analyzing, thinking things through. Reasoning why my answer was correct or eliminating others. I felt reasonably confident. There were a handful of tough ones that required some guessing but I thought for sure I had nailed something over the 76 I needed. Then the 150th question came. I answered carefully and clicked that submit button.

My heart threatened to beat out of my chest, I am pretty sure I was in a state of respiratory alkalosis from my hypervention, and I found my brain vaguely wondering what my ABG levels were. I always cover my eyes until the screen changes, I don't know why. The next screen shows me my score. The next screen would show me if I had succeeded. I opened my eyes and I'm fairly certain my heart stopped. Just stopped. It felt like ice had been poured over me. My mind raced through every thought possible: it was a mistake, I didn't study hard enough, the computer is wrong, the computer is right, this is just a really bad dream.

My world collapsed. The grade was too low. It was not the 76 I needed to pass. In that moment I did not pass nursing school. I began shaking and managed to contain myself just long enough to show the teacher my grade, grab my stuff and run. Run back to my car sobbing. I called my husband first. Poor thing. To tell him the news. At this point I had no idea what I was doing. My world was shattering and I didn't know how to pick up the pieces. I had just thrown away years and years of hard work, countless hours studying, about $10,000 in loans and then some, all the time devoted to this school by myself and my family, and lastly my job. I had just lost the job I not only loved but needed. That was a terrifying feeling. I had already used up my one readmission to the program so I couldn't just simply repeat the semester either. This was it: make it or break it.

I drove to my parent's house in some kind of blur. Truthfully I probably shouldn't have driven. I sobbed out the words "I didn't pass" to my mom. I stayed there for awhile, my mom comforting me and the kids blissfully playing around me. Completely unaware of the utter devastation in their mom's heart. I began the process of texting, calling and alerting the world to my failure. I've been known to be a little over dramatic, yes. In hindsight I would have waited to ensure it was the official result but being in the distraught state I was, thinking clearly was not happening. I decided to go back to the school and talk to my teacher, ask to go over my test, find out what the heck happened.

When I entered the room, most of the class was still there. My classmates embraced me and I found out there was not a single person in the class who got an 80 on that test and questions would be gone over with potential points being given back. I still didn't think I had any hope of course. I needed 5 questions to be given back to pass. The most I had ever gotten back on a test was 1 or 2. Our teacher assured us this was high priority and the heads of the department would be working on reviewing the test immediately. Until then I was hanging in this weird limbo. Everybody and their uncle was praying for those points back.

I didn't know what to do with myself. I didn't want to just go home and sit there. I was in no emotional condition to take care of my kids. So two other classmates and I decided to go see a movie to keep our minds occupied while we waited. We went to see Big Hero 6 which turned out to be perfect. The big marshmallow looking character is actually a nurse robot. Couldn't have been better.

During the movie one classmate checked his phone to see if the grades had been updated. He nudged my other classmate who checked hers, then I proceeded to check mine. I'm fairly certain the one other guy and his daughter who were in the theater thought we were insane, or just really into the movie. Once we saw that all three of us had been given enough credit to pass cries of happiness, shrieks of excitement and multiple high fives and hugs were being exchanged. I ran out into the hall and called my mom and husband to let them know our prayers were answered. I texted every person I could think of to share the good news: I had passed nursing school!

Yesterday I went through the lowest of low feelings only to be pulled up to the highest of high feelings. I was emotionally exhausted, physically I felt like I had just run a marathon. I have worked so hard to achieve this goal. Even if I did only pass with a "B" instead of an "A" overall. I passed. They don't put "R.N. who just barely passed" on your license after all.

I have an amazing support system that has carried me through this program and if it weren't for them I would never have finished. I only get 75 words to thank those people in my pinning ceremony speech but I will be doing a separate blog post to thank all of those I wish I could have fit in those 75 words but couldn't.

So now I am free. There are no more tests to cram for, no more clinicals to attend. I don't have any homework to do. I never have to set foot in an MCC nursing class again. It's weird and I still don't feel like it's real at all. I am sure by the end of the month when I've had more time of just being me it will feel real.

Until the NCLEX I am going to enjoy my two day a week extern job, I might catch up on some tv shows, crochet a few things, return to crossfit and even clean my house! The best part though: I get to spend more time with my awesome kids and family!!!!!