Mother / Student

by Amber Strocel on March 14, 2014

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Two months ago, I returned to school, some 14 years after completing my first degree. It was the first time I’d done anything more than a two-day workshop since I got married and had children. Right now I’m taking three classes at a local university, gathering prerequisites with the hope of eventually studying education and becoming a public school teacher. This has represented a big change not just for me, but for my entire family.

going back to school with kids
The quad on campus
One of the eight principles of Attachment Parenting International is strive for balance in your personal and family life. In many ways, going back to school has been an exercise in upsetting the balance that I had attained. I work part-time from home as a writer. My children were eight and five years old when I attended my first class in January. With my son starting kindergarten this past fall, I’d managed to achieve a sense of equilibrium that hadn’t existed since I went into labour with my daughter in 2005. I was no longer working long into the night after the kids were asleep – I was able to do my work while they were at school, and spend my evenings with my husband. It was pretty sweet, to be honest.

This greater sense of equilibrium is what created space in my mind to ask myself some big questions – questions that I hadn’t really considered since before I got pregnant with my first child. I started asking myself what I really wanted for myself, rather than what I wanted for my children.

I’ve built much of my work life (and pretty much every other part of my life) around my kids since I became a mother. I did so willingly, as well. I know that children grow all too quickly, and you can’t get those early days back. I was thrilled to be able to find a job that allowed me more time with my little ones, and greater flexibility in general. I didn’t ask where I saw myself in 10 years, but rather where I saw my family. As someone who has found attachment parenting to be very fulfilling, this worked well for me.

With a little more time and mental space of my own, things changed. I had something of an Aha! moment last October, when I realized that I still hold the dream of becoming a teacher. It’s something I’ve wanted to do ever since I was a kid, but I pursued my first degree in engineering because it seemed like the more practical choice. I left my engineering career behind some five years ago, though, and had spent the intervening years more focused on short-term goals.

My husband and I talked about the idea of going back to school, and I attended an info session and talked to my kids. In the end, I decided that there really was no better time, and went for it.

Going to school has upset the balance of my life in many ways, but I’ve worked hard to re-establish it under different conditions. I’ve had to say No a lot. I gave up the tap dancing class I loved. I called on my family to help. I also spent a lot of time explaining to my kids what I’m doing, and why. Think, “I have to do some homework right now, so I can’t read to you. I’ll come and find you when I’m finished and we’ll do some reading then.” Balancing my roles, and succeeding as a student, parent and employee, is taking help and support from almost everyone in my life.

I’m going to be sharing my experiences as a mother, writer and university student each month on this blog. I have a lot more to say, about how I’m providing my kids with consistent and loving care, how I’m trying to respond sensitively to my children and myself, and what our days look like. For today, however, I have to run. I have homework to do.

Have you spent any time at school since having children? If you have any tips or experiences to share, I’d love to hear them!

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Amber Strocel (29 Posts)

Amber is a hippie mama to two, a writer, a dreamer, a student, an erstwhile engineer and a lover of chocolate. She lives in suburban Vancouver with her family and one very cranky tabby cat. Keep up with her on her blog at Strocel.com.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

lieselotte March 15, 2014 at 5:31 am

I loved reading this blog article, i’ve just started school and i have two kids (2 years old and 4 months) , we are one month far and i all ready had to ask my mom to help babysit the kids because i have an exam on monday, but i try to spend as much time with them is i can, i worked hard before and this life is more easy going than before in a way. when i come home from school i decided to spend time with the kids first until they go to bed and then i spend time with myself , the only thing that isn’t in balance is the housekeeping and the homework. But in my school there isn’t much understanding for school going parents, or they are treaded equally as students who just came out of school. And for me, parents or older people or people who have worked before study , deserve some kind of respect and understanding. I’m looking forward to read your next blog!

kindest regards

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Margie Wilson-Mars March 29, 2014 at 8:17 am

Great article. My daughter is 25 and has two children. After having a very rough time in High School, I’m proud to say she’s into her second year of college and on her way to become one of the few female diesel mechanics in the U.S.
Good luck!

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