Gradual School, Part 1

Here’s what  I expected when I applied to graduate school at what was then known as California State University Hayward:  I would gradually get a master’s degree in counseling. I raced through Cal at lightning speed, taking a mere nine years to get a B.A., so I figured with my current situation of having two kids and a busy life, I could whip through a two-year program in four years, tops. I mean, how hard could it be?

Because I had already been asked to do some peer counseling through UCSF–the hospital where Caitlin took up residence–by talking to other parents whose babies had heart defects, I thought it would be a good idea to get some formal training in the field.

And it felt good to say I was applying to grad school when that inevitable question  (“what do you do?”) came up. Being a stay-at-home mom had implications in those days. I often felt defensive about what I was doing, sticking up for Mr. Rogers and the cast of Sesame Street, since I spent many hours in their company instead of climbing up a career ladder somewhere. It was the 80’s after all; most of the people I knew  had jobs and business cards. I had the ability to wrestle two kids into car seats and get myself dressed every day, and I could make a mean grilled cheese. Ta da!

Staying home with kids had a real upside–don’t get me wrong.

Everyone loves blowing bubbles, right?
And Disneyland!
And going to the park

But after five years, I started to get restless…

So I sucked it up and took the Miller Analogies Test and sent in my application to grad school. I thought the test would be a piece of cake, but those things were hard — and they got harder. Who knew? A is to B as B is to… WTF?

But I got a good enough score to get into school, which is a lucky thing because I would not have sat through that test again. No way.

Myles is true to my school!

 I entered the clinical counseling program in the fall of 1982.

Some of my classes were family therapy, relationship counseling, abnormal psych, cross-cultural counseling–and then there was the ever popular Thursday night sex counseling class.Ah, yes. Those movies…unforgettable.

 When I began the program, Caitlin was almost five, and Myles was almost two. The following year, Caitlin started school so I had to take classes in the morning in order to get her home in time for her afternoon kindergarten class, or else I had to take classes in the evening which meant getting home after 10:00 PM.

Most mornings we were out the door early,with lunches packed and back-up outfits stowed, but there were those occasions when we ran late and I had to scour the 7-Eleven in Hayward for something remotely nutritious to buy so the kid wouldn’t go to school faint with hunger. For providing those peanut butter cracker and apple juice lunches in the rolling cafe, I earned several nominations for Mother of the Year.Some days we would come skidding down the block with moments to spare as Caitlin’s walk-to-school buddy stood in front of her house, tapping her little Mary Janes and making sure her hair bow was straight.

I was a shoo-in!

 I would’ve graduated in four years too, except for one little thing: my third child, who appeared in June of 1986.

To be continued…

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