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.
The quad on campus
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!