The system isn’t for you, when you’re a Mother. Going to a university as a working mom is like war, and the odds are against you. The field is desolate and harsh, and you aren’t given any armor that you didn’t build yourself, and even that they will try to take. I fought this battle for 14 years, and yesterday I won.
14 years ago I was waking up in the middle of the night, not for Gavin, he was sound asleep, to crush pills for my grandmother’s feeding tube, to check her colostomy bag, to look at her breathing. Sometimes I’d have to call an ambulance for my mom, and I’d have to explain which sick person to take and why- and to please be as quiet as possible because my son was sleeping in the room across the hall. It was a harsh, and honestly an unlivable landscape. Everything in the world seemed to hold me back from taking classes but I said no.
Eventually my grandmother past away and I moved on. I ended back in Las Vegas. Homeless, but pretty full of hope and toughness. My friend Ashlie let me stay with her, and helped me get a job at Tahiti Resort. I remember everything about the moment she picked me up. I was starving, thin, scared, restless and hurt. Her car smelled like fruit and she was as kind as she always has been. I loved her, and I loved my job.
At first I had 3 jobs, Pool manager, checker at kid 2 kid thrift store, and childcare at church on the weekends. The first class I took when I got there was Spanish, that’s all I could fit in. The next class I took was a history course at noon- or so I thought. When I showed up to history at “noon” it was an astronomy class and after some confusing breakdowns of my schedule we finally figured out that the asterisk meant midnight. I had rearranged my work and child care for nothing. Walking into work that day with fresh tears, my friend Tyler and his then boyfriend, Sean, said they would drive across town every night to watch Gavin while I went to class from midnight to 1:30am. They became Gavin’s midnight nannies.
Those courses ended, life kept moving. My mom came to visit from Apple Valley but on her drive home she had what I call an attack, she had them most of my life and that was just what I ended up naming them, the vagueness speaks to my understanding of what they were, or why they happened. She stopped at state line, called me saying she was a little sick. After a couple hours I knew something was very wrong. I drove to state line and I remember an ambulance passing. It was normal for me to imagine my mom in ambulances every time they passed, but this was different. I kept driving and when I got there they told me she had been rushed to the ER.
She was on life support for 16 days.
I’d leave class early to watch her in this deep sleep. I missed a final. I missed sleep and I missed my mom.
Life goes on. Gavin was close to entering kindergarten, we had one too many conversations about the women on Las Vegas billboards and I very sternly decided, in the middle of a long night of making lunches, doing homework, finishing laundry and cleaning the house, that I was moving to California- immediately. And I did.
(Our last night in Las Vegas on the Stratosphere)
Soon after I started classes at Cypress College- they wouldn’t accept almost half of my Nevada credits so I was essentially starting over. I cried, but I kept moving. I worked on boats and I worked at the church and I joined the PTA and I took care of Gavin. I stayed up late to be a person, to work on essays, to study, to relax, to clean, and to cry.
Eventually I satisfied all of my credits for transfer and I applied to CSU Fullerton and CSU Long Beach. I ended up choosing Fullerton because they had the only bachelors in science program specific to early childhood and adolescent development. Plus I just liked how CSUF felt.
At the orientation I fought back tears for so long I had these strange hiccups in my stomach and a headache that I could feel in my hands.
I made it.
I started taking larger course loads that did, in complete honesty, bring me to my knees. I remember one moment in Josh and I’s bedroom, I was hunched over laundry, crying, finals weighing me down to the complete bone, cruel almost dead professors, Gavin calling mom, Josh upset and me just trying to get the laundry downstairs to the laundry room. I kept going.
I won a few awards along the way.
I got married
Graduated my Practitioner studies
My husband got a call to ministry in Colorado. I tried to finish all of my classes, but some of them had to be in particular order, were full, or were not at a time I could accommodate. Still I took the largest course load I could while packing and moving.
I arrived in Colorado and finished some out of major courses online, human sexuality and Hinduism.
I got a job a the early childhood enrichment center
Colorado licensing made me take a course in Colorado to satisfy my early childhood teaching license and Director’s license, and I took that along with the 2 other courses that would hopefully replace the last 2 classes I was unable to take at CSUF.
I began focusing on building an Atelier at the Early Childhood enrichment center
I had Nancy June
When she was 4 hours old I got onto my email and finished an essay and submitted it for my administration course.
I finished my last class on December 12th.
I completed my essays, gathered my transcripts, got letters from two professors and submitted my petitions on January 8. I submitted three petitions and requested they replace the remaining credits for my degree. Two weeks later I was denied two of them.
I had never felt so much pain and complete heart break, I could barely breathe. The wind had been knocked out of me. I had Nancy on my hip.
I sat down harshly starring at the email.
I saw a phone number on the bottom, it was 4:45. I didn’t think anyone would answer but I needed to call, I needed to do something. But after a few rings the person who wrote the email answered. I took in a breath, my first real breath in several minutes and I said, “hi, my name is April Reeves, I just received – and then I started crying. I told her I already spoke to who she wanted me to speak to, that I already received guidance on what classes to take and I had all of those emails saved. She asked me to forward them to her and I did, immediately.
5 days later all of my classes were approved, and I, now April Ann Reeves am graduating in May 2019.
All in all, some beautiful things happened along the way.
I made it.
My favorite book growing up was:
“Slow and steady, steady and slow, that’s the way I always go.”