Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Time Warp

All four seasons collided today in my back yard. After the preschoolers trailed in wet leaves, I realized the lull in the rain practically required me to rake up the slimy leaves.

So, at naptime, I donned gloves and boots and ventured into the soggy back yard. I raked leaves (autumn), while the sun shone (summer), noted the green shoots from crocuses and daffodils in the flowerbeds (spring) and yet, it is January (winter, according to the calendar). The afternoon was so pleasant and my mood reflected the sunny skies. That's what I love about the Pacific Northwest. Sometimes the seasons merge together or appear out of order, unlike the snowy winters of northern Michigan where a relentless cold wind blew west to east, leaving six foot drifts of snow by winter's end.

The rain eventually stops.

I've queried several friends and relatives, pleading with them to tell me what to do. Should I go to school, with the eventual goal of becoming a nurse? Or not? Am I too old? Nearly everyone has encouraged me to pursue schooling . . . and I think that's probably the wise thing to do. I told myself to day I can always quit--at any step, I can quit. The important thing is to start, take the first step.

I know a terrible fact about myself, though, that threatens to trip me. I am sequential in my approach to life and tasks and sometimes this is a problem because I can't do a particular thing until I do something else first. For instance, I can't bake cookies until the kitchen is completely clean. And I can't work on scrapbooks until my house is tidy. Can I go to class while my laundry remains wrinkled?

I'm worried that I can't possibly start school until every thing else lines up in impeccable order, which is clearly impossible since I live in a house with four children, three cats, school-at-home books stacked on my desk, a cupboard jumbled with Corningware and Tupperware without matching lids, and thirty-seven unmatched socks who've lost mates.

I am distressed to skip ahead when all this isn't quite lined up and resolved. But this will never be lined up and resolved and I must lift up my eyes and focus on the future. For in ten years, I will be fifty . . . but will I be fifty with an interesting, lucrative, flexible job or will I be fifty, wondering why I never did get my act together?

Well, for now, that question looms stark while the answer remains blurry around the edges. But I think the essence of the answer involves accepting the jumble around me and forging ahead.

Tomorrow I will make a list of the steps I should take. One step at a time, even if that voice in my head is screeching in panic about the random insanity of starting something when everything else is half-unraveled. That's not crazy, right? That's progress.


Blogger FairMaid said...

You can do it, Mel!
That is, if you want to and you think this is best. ;-) Maybe this can be a new start, a new beginning of not doing things 'in order' and 'when everything is perfect,' but instead simply when it is the right time to do them. I think you are very brave to start something new, and definitely not too old! If this is your dream, go for it!

11:38 PM  
Blogger Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Become a nurse by all means. My mother suffered terribly from the empty nest experience until she became a nurse and filled her life with other interests than childraising.
She came to work in the psychiatric ward where she believed, "everone is just like me!" She was a wonderful open non-judgemental mother to so many.

2:14 AM  
Blogger ilovecheese said...

Hi Mel! I feel you should go ahead and go to nursing school, you deserve it for yourself - after all it would help so many other people, most importantly it would help you! Who knows when you are away the socks might find their mates..and the boys could learn to do more things around the house! Maybe it'll get everyone to do their bit..and you are never too old to do somrthing you love, right?

2:21 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

Being selfish here...might that mean that you would stop blogging?

If you plan to go, go now. By about 45 I could feel the brain cells rolling out of my ears everytime I tilted my head.

And, being someone who has spent a considerable amount of time in hospitals (for other people) last year, the nursing world could use another pair of loving hands.

5:01 AM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

Lists rule. Definitely start with a list.


5:19 AM  
Blogger the SmockLady said...

Yes, Yes, Yes. I, too, am a sequential doer in my approach to life although I never gave it a title - now I have one.
And lists - I'm the SmockLady and I'm a listaholic. I make list to cross off my other lists. I need lists to feel organized. And school - I gave up my last nine (yes, 9) hours of my degree to work full time so I could pay for our wedding. Now that's it's been over ten years - the records say I have to start over, completely ove, start from scratch to get my degree - no thank you. I know that I'm smart and capable, very. My hubby has good life insurance and so do I - heaven forbid we'd ever need either policy enforced. When my children are all grown and if I'm bored or need something outside the house to do, then I'll go back to school or find a small job to keep me busy. But no thank you for school now. My hubby and five children are enough for now. I do wish that I had that degree, but it really doesn't matter, because I wouldn't be using it right now anyway. I'd still be home with my children. If I needed the money and had to get the job (which seems to be our situation most of the time) I would spend it all on childcare and then I'd miss being with them and then I would get resentful and be a miserable mommy. It's just not for me. I sew for others to bring in extra and that's enough for me for now - later, we'll see.

7:11 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Maybe I'm a sequencer too. I've always put it down to being task-oriented. If I walk by something on the floor, I am prone to think, "I should pick that up next time I go by, but I'm on my way to do X right now."

7:41 AM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Go for it, Mel. You'll be the same age whether you go to school or not. How much better to reach the age and be able to say you went for your dream.

7:52 AM  
Blogger M3 (Mary-Mia) said...

Do it!!! And good for you. I have a million "I shoulds" and a million more "buts." And I'm trying to get even more "I dids." It's hard, but each one makes me smile.

8:06 AM  
Blogger mopsy said...

I wish you the best as you make your decision. There will *never* be a perfect time to go back to school---I think you are going to have to dive in and see what happens.

8:14 AM  
Blogger Goslyn said...

Go for it! Now is a great time to start. And don't you know, Wednesdays are anti-procrastination days?

8:31 AM  
Blogger tab said...

If going to school and a job/career is important to you (later down the road) then take the plunge and go for it. Put the schooling more towards the top of your list of priorities. It's just a readjustment of your list that's all.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

if you start school, then you can always use those other chores as things to do when you are putting off doing your homework! It'll work out great! :)

10:26 AM  
Blogger Catharine said...

Hey, Mel. Just had this discussion with a friend. He and I just graduated with our BAs this past December. He's 48, I'm 47, and we're both starting grad school now (at least a two-year, possibly three-year, investiment of time).

Ask yourself this. Is it your passion? Do you want to do it? In three years, you're going to be the same age, whether you attend nursing school or not. So age is an irrelevant issue to the entire discussion. Is it your passion? Is it something you long to do? Do you think you'd be good at it? Can you make it work?

If the answer to most or all of these questions is "yes," then what are you waiting for? Enroll. Now.

I promise you.... PROMISE... PINKY SWEAR PROMISE.... you will not be sorry for a minute that you did it.


11:35 AM  
Blogger Catharine said...

Oh, yeah... I forgot the most important part... going back to school is like having a baby. If you waited for everything to be perfect before motherhood -- the nursery, the daycare situation, the money situation, and all the lids to fit perfectly on the Tupperware -- you would most certainly still be waiting.

It doesn't have to be pretty, sugar. It just has to get done.

So, hop to it! That's an order.


11:38 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Yes, you can leave the laundry and go to classes. I do it all the time! Someone will eventually pick up the slack or be naked. I have found my 10 year old is much more useful than she ever let on.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

I have these same thoughts, about age, schooling, even possibly nursing. I'm curious to see your list and also to see what you decided in the end.

2:08 PM  
Blogger dinodoc said...

I agree w/97.5% of the above. For heaven's sake woman, go back to school! You know you have the brain power (yes you do). And having enough stamina to take care of your own 4 kids (plus some extras)means you have plenty of stamina for the school thingy. (Now if I could only get you to go to PLU.) (And no I wouldn't be able to pay for PLU either.)

2:42 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Everybody sing! With feeling!

Climb every mountaaaaaain, search high and looooow
Follow every byway, every path you know. (It rhymes!)
(pick up the drama ladies) Climb every mountain, ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow, till you find your dream!

A dream that will need
all the love you can give, (fight back the tears now)
Every day of your life
(with gusto here) for as long as you live!

(All together now)Climb every mountain, ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow, (Here's the crescendo, give it all you got)

Mother Superior wants you to follow your dream, Mel. Follow your dream and become a nurse!!

I would suggest that if you are having to buck certainly personality traits why don't you go all the way and NOT MAKE A LIST. What list?

Find a school
Figure out what classes you need to start taking
Send them some money

There's your list. First up - find a school.

Here's your deadline: One week from today.

Can't wait.

I'm going back to school. We'll do it together Mel! I missed my deadline although money was a factor so my next deadline is in May. At least you don't have to get a portfolio together.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Sandy said...

Mel, I think you'd be a great midwife. ;)

10:05 PM  
Blogger Cuppa said...

I am sequential in the way I tackle things too. Thanks for giving it a name. My sister and mother could dive right in to a new project in the middle of a mess, but I couldn't. I had to get all my ducks in a row before I could start something new. They sure got a lot more creative stuff done. They just thought about it and did it!!! Amazing to me.

When I hit my 50's I took great comfort in this quote
"It is never too late to become what you might have been."

Go for it Mel. You can do it.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

Ok yeah, a bit late to the discussion. Everybody pretty much beat me to it, so I think I will just sing along with Elizabeth.

Are we talking about an RN vs. an LVN or something completely different?

My mother went to nursing school with two young daughters, and although it was tough (graveyard shifts and such) I don't think she regrets it one bit.

10:10 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

Hi Mel,

Long time reader, first time poster...how cheesy was that? I really enjoy your blog and think you have the funniest life. I was very impressed to see you are considering going back to school with all you have going on (will that mean the twins will have to go back to public school & what about baby girl?). I am a registered nurse and have been for 16 years. It is my passion! I love everything about it and have never regretted a single minute. I spent the first 10 years in pediatric oncology and now teach nursing. I wanted to drop in and just add a little information & perspective while you made your list that hopefully will be helpful in the decision making and planning process.

First, you have to decide if you want an Associate or Baccalaureate degree. I know you already have a bachelor's degree but unfortunately it isn't transferable to an RN and requires additional schooling to achieve. Your Associate program is a minimum of two years; bachelor's would likely be 2 1/2 to 3.

Second, while I have now doubt you could handle the rigorous academic course load, it is and will be a HUGE time commitment. If you go the 2 year route a considerable portion of that time will be allocated to clinical work where you will do shift work in a local hospital for zero pay...bummer but it is true. In your last semester you will likely be required to work 36 hours per week as part of your senior practicum. The same is true and then some for the bachelor's programs ( I have my BSN and am currently in graduate school). I cannot imagine how you will do this with 4 small children and a very busy husband but more power to you!! All of the clinical work is of course on top of your course load.

Finally, a little about the real world of working as an RN. While there is a national nursing shortage one still has to pay their dues so to speak. It would be highly unlikely in your first your first year that you would be able to get a day shift position in any hospital setting. The shifts range from 8-12 hours and you can expect to work evenings or nights because day shift positions are coveted and afforded to RN's with the most seniority. Holidays and weekends are gone. I actually had my first week between Christmas and New Year's off in my 16-year nursing career just this year. In the first couple of years there is little flexibility with scheduling, as that is your chance to really get some good experience.

If you sub-specialize you will need at least 1 year medical-surgical experience in a hospital before you will be hired into a specialty area, although the shortage has changed some of those rules. Clinic/MD Office work is not an easy answer either. It pays significantly less and most MD offices won't hire RN's because they have to pay them too much so MA's and LPN's staff these settings. Specialty clinics such as ambulatory surgical units and oncology clinics require a minimum of 2 years hospital, med-surg, experience before they will hire you, though the pay is a little better there. Your best option for high salary comes with the in-patient setting, as there are hourly differentials for evening and night shifts, weekends and holidays.

All in all to get to a point where you are able to write your own ticket you are talking 4-5 years with schooling. In the beginning, it is a very challenging job for women with young children and very hard to be home to get them off to school or welcome them home.

I sincerely hope I haven't dampened your enthusiasm. I went to nursing school straight out of high school so it was much easier for me (though I worked 3 jobs to pay for college). There were several women in their late thirties & early forties that attended with me. Three of them found the pace too much with their small children, wound up quitting and with quite a bit of debt. Ouch!

I think it is good to have all the facts when making such an important decision.. And though I was very young and love my career I wish someone had told me what those first years would be like. Perspective is everything.

I wish you luck and if you have any questions don't hesitate to email me.

Warmly, Annie

4:24 PM  
Blogger Tina said...

I think you should do it. I am sure you will be a great student...and then a wonderful nurse.

Your powers to juggle are already evident.

8:02 AM  

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