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School Girls

After my daughter was born, it took about three years before it became very apparent that my modeling career would never return to its previous gravy days. I found myself back at the educational drawing board. For the last 16 years I had managed to pull off professional success without a college degree, and, now, the jig was up!

I spent a lot of time considering my strengths and options. Then, I spent some more time at the library and bookstores and on the Internet. Then, I spent a bit more time on the phone talking to friends and family, getting advice. Finally, at the beginning of last summer, I decided to pursue a second career as a registered nurse. I had to take an intensive remedial math class, which was hilarious and totally necessary.

On the first day, all day, everyone just assumed I was the professor. Ahhh, no…

During hot summer Brooklyn days at the playground, while my daughter ran through the sprinklers, I tried to fathom the Order of Operations. I didn’t remember all those math rules. In fact I'm not even sure if I had ever learned them in the first algebra class way back in 1985.

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After I put my daughter to bed at night, I would sit at the kitchen table, put some classical music on Pandora (that’s supposed to make you smarter, right?) and stare at the numbers until they started to make sense. The old gears were grinding painfully, but sloowwly I found myself … learning.

Last fall, my 4-year-old daughter started pre-kindergarten and I became a 40-year-old college freshman. Now, I know I am not the first 40-year-old to go back to school. But sometimes it felt like it. There were certainly moments of great comedy. On the first day, all day, everyone just assumed I was the professor. Ahhh, no…

That first year of prerequisites was incredibly hard, but, looking back, they were precious days. It is strange and wonderful to have such strong feelings of solidarity with your 4-year-old. We were giddy schoolgirls together—what a trip! Every day was uniforms (hers), lunches (ours) and homework (ours—yes, she had homework in pre-K!).

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The nursing programs I wanted to apply to were extremely competitive, and I knew I'd need a 4.0 GPA for all prerequisites in order to qualify. And I did it. Well, WE did. My little family was with me every step. Every time I had a big test, my daughter put some “extra luck” via her magic finger into my pocket—a trick I did with her on her important days. My freelance musician husband would work Thursday through Monday days and nights, then we would pass the baby baton, and I would go to school all day Tuesday to Thursday. I saw him minimally during this time—maybe an hour at night from Tuesday through Thursday, and then Thursday through Monday I would just pat his shoulder whenever he made it to bed. It is tough, but we're a solid couple, and it's just what we have to do for the next few years.

After all the work was done, my daughter and I would check the mail looking for the “fat” letter accepting me into a program. The night it finally came, we did a happy dance in the hallway that will live forever as one of the most delicious moments of my life. Intense personal achievement is an unbelievable feeling, and it's even better when it is shared.

Even though I have not taken one actual nursing class (they begin this fall), my daughter lets me fix her boo-boos with minimal fuss because she believes I am somehow qualified. I love the look in her eye when she tells someone her mom is going to be a nurse. Who knew it would feel so good for your little kid to be proud of you? Bonus to having a kid #983. Can’t wait for our kindergarten/sophomore year to begin!

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