Posted by: Ingrid | August 28, 2016

Seventy-Eight M&M’s


So the first week of the first semester of nursing school is in the books. That would be 1/15 of the way through, in case you are counting.

This week one of our instructors told a story I’d read or heard at some point in the past. It was about (in a very brief and poor synopsis) a man who realizes that if he lives to be in his seventies, he only has 1000 Saturdays left. He puts 1000 marbles in a jar and every Saturday pulls a marble out.  He uses this visual to cherish the time he has and knows that once all 1000 are gone, if he gets another Saturday it’s a gift. The challenge was for us to appreciate the time we have it school because it will go by too quickly.

I came home from that class and filled a jar with 78 M&M’s, one for each day of instruction during this first semester of nursing school.

Now, just to be tangential, why has no one told me about the autumn M&M mix? These giant, delectable, white chocolate morsels have been sitting in my pantry ever since I bought them clearanced out last November. I didn’t know they were this good. And I’d be a fool to choose marbles over chocolate, anyone with common sense knows that. Also, I have an up-and-coming crawler and the Legos all over the floor will be choking hazard enough, I definitely don’t need marbles. This was my rationale for going with candy.  Also, way cheaper.

I put them in a jar with the idea of watching them decrease as the semester goes on. I even color coded them; my clinical days are the white ones. I’m hoping no one else eats them before I do. There are many resourceful people in this house and I wouldn’t put it past any of them.

78 days is not very many. It does not feel like nearly enough time to learn what I need to and to learn it at whatever percentage of proficiency I am supposed to achieve. Part of the problem is that not only are these 78 days of my education, they are 78 days of Isaac’s first grade year, of Jonathan’s new preschool, Lily’s daycare, and Wesley’s infanthood. 78 days during which I want to be the best student I can while knowing that at the end of the day I am also my children’s best advocate, their model, their source of all sorts of things at the top of Maslow’s pyramid but also their source of food and clean clothing, and heaven knows that took a back seat this first week.

Even though it may sound silly, I have been sitting down for just a few minutes every day and picturing this opportunity as a gift. If I don’t do this, I am afraid that I will be overwhelmed by the enormity of change that has occurred. I am old enough to not take this for granted, old enough to know that everything falling into place so that I can go to school, from the childcare to the location of the school to having my Dad here the first semester, are all part of the gift. Not an easy gift (but neither was staying home with my children for seven years) and definitely one in which challenge is inherent.

This is not the type of gift where someone hands you the keys to a prefabricated home. This is a harder gift. More along the lines of someone dropping a ton of bricks and gallons of mortar in your yard and handing you a book entitled 1,001 Steps to your new brick home (some assembly required).

I have a lot to do, a lot to prioritize, and not enough hours in the day to do 75% of what needs to get done. Breathe, study, hug children, feed people, sleep, run, repeat.  That is what I will do for now.

And every time I eat an M&M, I will be thankful.



  1. You are doing great and great visual too. Praying for your strength.

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