19: Living the Dream

19: Living the Dream

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses

Living the Dream

I know the plans I have for you.

~Jeremiah 29:11

My dream haunted me as I pondered the details. I saw hallways, metal louvered doors, desks, test papers, and just before waking, I felt the strong impression I needed to return to school. But in reality, that didn’t make sense. It actually seemed outlandish. I was a wife and a mother of three rambunctious boys, ages five and under.

I’d become pregnant just before my seventeenth birthday. Back in 1972 a pregnant teenager wasn’t encouraged to stay in school. So I married my beau and started a family. Finances were tight and I often wondered if there was some creative way I could bring some extra money into the household. Going back to school was not an option, as it would place a huge strain on our already-tight budget. There was no way we could afford childcare, tuition, books and the other extra expenses.

Going about my daily tasks, I couldn’t get that dream out of my mind. Time and again, it recurred, perplexing me.

As I placed a roast in the oven, or folded the laundry, I had that eerie sense I had to return to school. I knew only a small fraction of teenage mothers completed their education; I tried processing what was happening, why I felt this strong urgency to do so.

One afternoon, after putting the boys down for their nap, I took the opportunity to catch a few moments of rest. Sitting in my comfy chair, I drifted off into a half-sleep, only to be abruptly awakened with that lingering thought: “I have to go back to school.”

“That’s it,” I said. “I need to seriously think about this.” As I entertained the possibility, I wondered, “What career would I choose?”

Each day I picked up a paper at the local newsstand and scoured the want ads to see what careers were in demand. I looked over maid and waitress positions. No thanks. I had plenty of that at home. Besides, those jobs didn’t require a college degree.

I thought about teaching a health class, but a teaching degree, with its internships and student teaching requirements, would take too long.

As I searched the columns of job postings, time and again, nursing ads caught my attention. I liked the various opportunities available to nurses, the pay, and the idea I could work part-time and still be there for my three boys. I’d had an interest in pregnancy and childbirth since my fifth grade science fair project, when I did a display of clay models of fetal development. I won first place and got my picture in the paper.

It started becoming clear to me. I liked everything about becoming a nurse in the field of maternal/child health. The more I pondered the idea, the more it felt like my dream was leading me to my life’s purpose.

But it was still just an impossible dream. Until one day, while visiting my mother who lived close by, I casually mentioned, “I’m thinking it would be nice to return to school and get a nursing degree.”

Her response absolutely stunned me. “I’m going to be quitting my job soon. I could watch the boys for you.”

I contacted our junior college. With plans to take my GED test, obtaining a student loan, and my mother’s generous offer to watch the boys, my dream was in motion!

Four years later, I walked across the stage proudly wearing my white cap and uniform. It was surreal as the Director of Nursing placed the tiny silver pin on my collar signifying I was officially a nurse.

Later that night I placed my head on my pillow and drifted off into a sound sleep. It was the beginning of many to come, as I was no longer haunted by that recurring dream. Now I was living the dream.

~Annettee Budzban

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