My eyes still sting now as I type those words. Those heartbreaking words that my three and a half year old daughter spoke to me the night I found out I passed my NCLEX nursing boards. It hurts no less re-writing them today than it did hearing them that night as Cory and I tucked Alea into bed.
Me: “What is mommy now, baby?”
Alea: “A nurse!”
Me: “And what doesn’t mommy have to do anymore?”
And we all giggled… Until she followed up with this: “Now mommy will have more time for me!”
Those words completely released a flood of hurt and sadness from my eyes. I couldn’t even compose myself right then, so I put story-time on hold and hopped up to go to the bathroom to give myself a second to break down and wipe my tears. I was in shock. Something that was always my worst nightmare, something I always tried my hardest to avoid was a possible reality for my little girl?
Let me tell you, nursing school is no joke. It’s quite the grueling experience that requires lots and lots of studying, practicing of skills, and for me I spent many nights away at clinicals. All of that stress and hard work was done to better our life as a family and also so I could accomplish my dreams of becoming a nurse. After having Alea unexpectedly at a young age, this was a very big goal for me to accomplish, but it was also a big push for me to pull through all the struggles that come with nursing school.
Despite all the studying, reading, clinicals and everything that nursing school required of me, I tried to make a very conscious effort to be present in Alea’s life. Crafts, frozen yogurt dates, trips to the park, picnics, library story time and even the McDonalds play place. You name it, we did it!
But still, there were times where I had to sit Alea down in front of a movie so I could get my chapters read for the week or studying done for an upcoming test or a research paper written. No mother wants to tell their child they can’t play with them, but I had no choice but to do that time and time again.
I know that Alea is only three. She likely didn’t mean those words the way they came out and they way I took them. She will be the first to tell you that her mommy is a nurse– and the way she says it is enough to make me beam with pride. But, those words she muttered to me that night made me stop and question whether or not all the sacrifices I made to complete nursing school were completely worth it.
Did I make the right decision to go back to school when Alea was 9 months old? Will she look back and even remember the days when her mommy was in nursing school and sometimes had to study rather than play with her?
My hopes is that she does not. I hope that when she’s old enough to understand that I worked my butt off to accomplish my dreams, make a better life for her, and give her everything that she wanted (and more), that she’s simply just proud of me.
While those words made me sad that night and still make me sad today, I know that is why I wanted to complete nursing school. As a nurse, I don’t have to bring my work home with me. When I clock out at the end of the day I don’t have to come home with a pile of books and a test to study for. I can be there and be fully present in my little girl’s life while still working as the nurse I’ve always wanted to become.
It may have taken sacrifices to get here, but after all of that hard work, I’m so happy to finally be a nurse.
And yes, now I’ll have plenty more time for my little girl!