(Flor Johnson is the proud mom of a 2008 Laurens-Marathon High School graduate and is herself a 2008 graduate of Buena Vista University. The graduations were on the same day - May 18 - and nearly the same time. She attended both graduations. Here she reflects on being a mom on the run...)
Mom has to sacrifice always. Raising children is like racing cars. Making sure every bolt is checked, the tires are changed, the fuel tank is filled, whatever it takes to continue the race. Moms have several watches and long itineraries at hand. Time is crucial. We cannot escape from time. Time management makes a difference. Decision-making may alleviate guilt when handled wisely and properly.
As a mom, I have been a juggler and runner. With husband Harlan's help and support, we have reared four children and have been running for years to catch every glimpse of our children's activities; sports, music, speech, drama, dance competition, and other school events everywhere. These were part of the family itinerary, as was community volunteering.
Moms and dads, imagine yourselves, trying to catch your breath with excitement, "We're headed to a football tournament!"
Children need all the support that parents, relatives, and friends can give. They, too, have to run.
We don't want to miss our child's first dance recital, baseball game, wrestling, track meet, to mention a few. We wrapped ourselves with blankets in the bleacher on cold nights at football games, put on our shades and sunscreen during track meets. I have been through all these activities, and survived. I won't mention expenses, wear and tear on the cars, stress or the weather. The show must go on.
I have nurtured their talents with commitment and dedication. My greatest reward are seeing the honors, medals, and trophies, not only for the family but for the school and community as well as to see my children happy also for their accomplishments.
I have always preached to my children to be an asset. There must be a balance between getting involved in school activities and maintaining good academic standing.
Time ran so fast. I slowed down for awhile when three children entered college then started my own race, and went back to college three years ago at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake. Then I doubled my speed. I ran for myself and our remaining high school child at home. My husband and I couldn't keep up with daughter Diana's school activities.
I had to take my homework or read my books while watching Diana play volleyball and other events. I raced with the time.
I tried to balance my life as a student, mother, wife, and after school drives back home to teach music. Then came the all night sessions burning the midnight oil in study. A speeding ticket slowed down my speed; life can be fun but sometimes dangerous.
The final days of school, I needed to catch up with school work and our daughter's involvement in state track meet - not counting graduation preparation. Time took care of the conflict. Then the important questions - should I attend my graduation or not? Which graduation would you attend, your daughter's or yours? My daughter's - a mother responds.
I asked many women of my age and friends for second opinions. I thought of myself also.
Negotiations with my daughter and the family had to be made. I decided I could make it to both. I hired some help, I had friends help out in the food preparation and delegated some of the tasks.
May 18, 2008 mother and daughter's big event occurred. I ran to my daughter's graduation for 20 minutes. Upon receipt of Diana's diploma, I drove (or actually flew) to Buena Vista University. Upon receipt of my diploma, I drove back home just in time to serve food and entertain guests.
The moral of the story? It can be done. Both mother and daughter reached the finish line. Both were winners.
I am happy to see my daughter graduated high school and also happy for myself that I've accomplished something - my education in this country. I received my bachelor of arts (with a psychology major) and Diana graduated with honors.
Empty nest soon will take place in our house, time to slow down for awhile. In few months, I will run again, to continue my race, as I pursue my masters degree. Diana, will be in a separate lane, as she pursues in music in South Dakota.
In this country, everything is possible, not only running a race for the family to see their accomplishment, success in their lives, but as parents, especially to those who are also aspiring to have that American Dream, get the education in this country to better one's life and be an asset. It is a big leap not only for me, but for many, especially the immigrants, like me, and most of all to many moms who think of getting back to school, it's not too late. It can be done!