Taking a two-year-old and a four-year-old to a university convocation might not seem like the best idea in the world but that’s what we did today. Seven and a half years, one husband and two children after she started working toward her degree, our daughter Melaina graduated from the University of Calgary today! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more well earned degree and the children were so much a part of the process that it was only fitting that they be there for Mommy’s big moment.
Melaina graduated from high school in 2001 and headed off to college to begin a two year legal assistant program. By early in her second year, she was already fairly certain that she didn’t want to spend her entire life at that career but Melaina isn’t a quitter. She finishes what she starts so finish she did. After graduation she went to work for the Merchant Law Group. At nineteen years of age with little life experience behind her, she found herself handling difficult immigration and residential school cases that she didn’t feel ready to deal with. In January 2005, after a year and a half on the job, she chose to cut back to 30 hours a week at the office and entered university part time.
That fall she became a full time student again. In December of 2006, during her Christmas break from school, she and Aaron were married. Full time studies came to an end when Drew was born in the spring of 2008. In fact, she had to have her final exams deferred when he arrived a little earlier than expected! She wrote them when he was just a week old.
Melaina had planned on graduating that spring but exhaustion brought on by her pregnancy and what was later determined to be an enzyme deficiency had made it impossible for her to carry a full course load that year. When Drew was born she was still a few courses short. Four years later, by taking a night course here and an online course there, she finally completed all the requirements for her degree and today was a day to celebrate!
Melaina’s graduation comes 37 years, almost to the day, since my own. When the graduating class rose to recite their pledge today, all past UofC graduates in attendance were invited to stand and recite it with them. As I did, I thought of the many papers I’d edited for her along the way. Though hers is a Bachelor of Arts and mine a Bachelor of Education, we both majored in English.
Watching one’s child graduate is always a moment of pride but today I was proud of Melaina for more than hanging in there and completing her degree while raising her children. I was also incredibly proud of her for the job that she’s doing with those children. Though today’s program lasted almost two and a half hours, their behaviour was fantastic!
Melaina has no immediate plans for the degree that she’s finally completed. She works as a part time administrative assistant for her church, a job that allows her to work from home. Though she’s a gifted administrator, being Mom is her first priority these days.
This morning when Melaina was telling Drew about what we’d be doing today, he told her that someday Mommy, Daddy, Gram and Grandpa would come to his graduation too. I hope so Drew, I really hope so!