Juggling and Struggling


With our second baby on the way, the mister and I decided that this would be a grrrreat time for me to pursue higher education.  There was an abundance of aid available, I was told.  I wanted, more than anything to go to the University of Mary and major in English.  I knew I wanted to teach, and dared to dream that I would write someday.   I had no idea how to go about getting financing for school.  It was all so overwhelming.  If it hadn’t been, I would have gone to school much sooner.  I really needed someone to take me by the hand and lead me through all of this business.   In high school, I was told about student loans.  Fantastic, loans are “out there”, could someone take me to “out there” and help me get some? The guidance counselor gave me an aptitude test, “archivist” was the number one suggestion for me.  I suppose I could see that, in retrospect.  I crave order.  I’m meticulous and methodical, and I certainly appreciate solitude.  THAT was not my dream, however, and that was not helping me get into an actual school.

The girl in the next apartment was going to school at Interstate Business College.  She told me, when it came to financing, they did everything for her .  She even got living expense money.  All she had to do was sign on the dotted line.  I went there to see if there was anything I would be interested in. The last thing I ever wanted to be, was a secretary.  However, the people who ran the school were so accommodating and convincing.  Some of the credits might transfer, they said.  This would be a strong background for me if I ever wanted to pursue further education, they said.  They would take care of everything, including a job when I was done, they said.  They also talked of living expense money being part of my PELL grant and guaranteed student loan.  At the moment, we seemed to be desperately lacking “living expense” money, so that was extremely motivating.  I had NO idea where to begin with student financing, and they were coming to my rescue.  If anything, I should have entered the legal secretary program.  Law was a real interest for me.  But that would be too difficult and stressful for me, they said.  Before I knew it, I was beginning my classes in the medical secretary program.

Mom, and sometimes Mom-in-law, took little miss Maggie for the four hours I was at school Monday through Thursday.   Maggie was often the star of Mom’s coffee group.  Our lively little fourteen-month-old, made-to-order baby was always happy and enthusiastic about life.  She wanted to talk so desperately.  So, she did.  She had a line of gibberish a thousand miles long.  She talked on and on, without ever uttering anything closely resembling an intelligible word.  I’m certain that she knew what she was saying.  She also loved shoes, my shoes.  She could only manage to wear one at a time, without falling.  Sometimes, if the heel was too high, she would walk round and round in circles, pivoting around the stationary “shoe” foot, “step-clomp, step-clomp, step-clomp.”  It was great entertainment!  My favorite was when she danced around singing her gibberish songs.  There was a band-aid commercial with an older gentleman singing, to the tune of a 1954 Hank Snow song, “It don’t hurt anymore.”  Maggie’s translation was a robust, “No dee huer dee muer!”  It was as if she was channeling Swedish Chef from “The Muppets.”

We managed our money, paid our bills, and were contented amidst the struggling and juggling.  I took long walks every day, Maggie singing, jabbering, and sometimes sleeping in her stroller.  I cleaned, cooked, did laundry, and managed homework daily.  Both of us were working hard and enjoying domestic life, often playing cards or board games in the evening.  I firmly believe that playing together makes staying together much easier.  We often lost track of time and played way past bedtime.  What can I say, childhood, although it was in the rearview mirror, was still happily riding in the back seat.

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