Lindsey goes to grad school!

October 9, 2018

On Friday night, over a salmon dinner, I told my dad I’ve been accepted into the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. A tear rolled down Dad’s cheek, which happens a lot because his Bell’s Palsy causes rebellious tear ducts. When more tears came, I realized this was a legit cry, which is weird because I didn’t think he’d consider graduate school a big deal. Three of my siblings have pursued post-secondary degrees (my brother, Brett, has more degrees than I have kids). And I’m going to school for a job that I sorta already have.
Then he said he’s beyond proud that his daughter is furthering her education, and that my Great-Grandma Dotson would be so proud too. Grandma Dotson was the daughter of a second polygamist wife. Her father was decades older than her mother, and the first wife wasn’t too keen on husband sharing, especially with a young bride. As a result, Grandma Dotson had a rough childhood, and eventually left home at the age of 12 to attend a girl’s boarding school in Beaver, UT. She went on to have 9 kids, only 3 of which survived into adulthood. She valued education, especially for women, and told her grandkids to learn and learn and learn. Her son, my grandpa, went on to do a bunch of jobs, largely in education, and married a woman who worked hard for her degree and worked hard in general. Of course, I’d never heard this story (and I’m sure my angel/ghost great grandma is plenty proud already, what with my female Harris cousins at med school or earning teacher of the year or graduating from Columbia). And there, sitting next to me was my mom, a teacher, the daughter of an immigrant garbage man, the first college graduate in her family. Wow. My lady ancestors have bestowed upon me a fierce legacy.
So I squeezed my dad’s hand and we cried happy/sad tears together. I had some catalyst moments these last few months that drove me to enroll after dreaming about this program for 12 flipping years. Even so, it’s been a HARD couple of weeks. My PTSD is maxed, my anxiety off the charts, and my faith in humanity bruised. But when I look back and look forward, I *still* have hope. The greatest responsibility I have as a mother is to hand over a kinder, wider, more-inclusive world to my daughters. My Oma was an orphan in Nazi Germany–she barely survived, forget gaining an education or voice. These last few weeks I’ve seen brave women like Dr. Christine Ford gain their voice. I’m still finding mine. But meanwhile, I’m not looking away or shutting up. I’m going to keep learning. I have stories I need to tell and things I need to say. My Great-Grandma Dotson already got woke when she was 12. Come January ’19, it’s my turn.