July 11, 2011

Unlearning Lazy - By Donna

I'm extremely happy to have a wonderful guest writer today.  Donna is a friend of mine from my AmeriCorps days.  She's a devoted mom, and in many ways a heck of a lot like me.  She doesn't have her own blog (yet)- let's see if she doesn't catch the bug after this), but she's marvelous and funny and I just love her to pieces.  She writes here about a subject I'm extremely familiar with- getting off your ass and learning to act like a grown up.  Of course, she puts it a lot better.  So here you are, Donna's very first blog post!

Unlearning Lazy

In my past incarnations as a student, I was never especially driven. I never really had any distinct goals that resonated with me and stuck, just many flittering superficial whims that didn’t lead to much but were fun at the time. For instance, I have an associate’s degree from a culinary program. As I was earning said degree, I worked summer jobs “in the business” where I learned… I really didn’t like “the business”. Cooking is lovely; sweating it out for long hours in the back of a windowless kitchen in an unforgiving restaurant with coworkers who don’t want to be there at all… not so lovely. So immediately after graduation, I took my cold feet and shuffled them into AmeriCorps… and then into being a nanny… and then back into school for a business degree.

I really wasn’t all that interested in a business degree. I just felt I needed to be back in school, a place where I always knew I could put in minimal effort and pass, and eventually come out with something that might resemble something I wanted to do. Long story short, I never earned that business degree. I never made it past the first semester. A few weeks before finals, I got a funny feeling, peed on a stick, and a few lives were changed forever. My boyfriend and I let our parents know that they were going to be grandparents, and we realized we really needed to clean up our acts and get serious about life.

Definitely a child of modern society, I had a sense of entitlement that my intelligence would afford me the ability to never have to put in more than minimal effort – that I could always just “pass” and everything would be fine. For one reason or maybe several, I never really saw the value of hard work, as embarrassing as it is for me to admit. I always saw my father working long hours to provide for our family, but we still always struggled. We all learned to get by with less than those around us, so while I knew we were “poor”, I never really felt “needy”. All in all, I saw the hard work, saw what it got us, and thought, “What’s the point?” I’m not proud of this, mind you, but it is what is.

This all changed when I found out I was pregnant. I dropped out of school and my boyfriend and I jettisoned to the opposite end of the state -  where his parents lived - in order to find work. Being Michigan in the state it’s in currently, this was no straightforward task. At one point, I had pieced together three part-time jobs while my boyfriend was working third shift full-time and our daughter was nine months old. (With many, many thanks to his family for their help, we survived.)

Occupationally, things have settled down. We’re both working full-time with benefits, and our amazingly cunning, sweet, beautiful little girl will be two in exactly one month.

Oh, two? Right. Cue all the drama that goes with that.

Did I mention that I’ve decided to give school another go? Sixteen credits during the condensed, eight-week summer semester. The difference this time is I’m dead set on doing my best. Not my best “considering the situation”, or my best “until I get burnt out”. I have resolved to do my best – nay, be my best – because that’s what my family needs. They need me to reach my potential, or else my daughter won’t know that she can and should do that for herself, and that that’s what I expect of her. Also, because setting my sights higher and achieving them will open doors for both my boyfriend and my daughter to do the same for themselves.

Of course, she won’t remember this time, which comes as a blessing to counteract my “Mommy Guilt” for pawning her off on her grandparents while I spend what little free time I have studying or doing homework. By the time she starts building vivid long-term memories, Mommy will be working a job helping doctors see people’s insides where she actually gets to be home at dinnertime and bedtime. Daddy will be back in school doing what he needs to do to become the best version of himself, and he too will get to be home at dinnertime and bedtime most nights. I am hurting because I’m missing little things that happen as she’s growing in this stage of her life, but I don’t want us both to hurt later when she looks for me in the audience of her dance recital/volleyball game/concert and I’m not there… all because I only did what I needed to “pass” in life.

I need to be the best version of me so that I can give her the best of me. Because frankly, she deserves it.


  1. Love this Donz. Isn't it funny how babies make you want to do better... they're like little silent motivators.
    SUPER MOMMYY!!! :)

  2. I love this. And I'm glad you realize that while the early stuff is cute and important in it's own way, the memories are what really matter.



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