Yes, I just quoted Billy Madison. I have always found that movie hilarious, but now I also have a newfound respect for Billy and going back to school! Everyone is doing it….not only are my kids heading back to school, but I also start the second year of my teacher education program…EEEKK! I love school and have been in school for like a million years! However, going back for another year is causing me a bit of stress. It is back to a crazy schedule with no time to breathe. You might be wondering why do it, why go back to school at my age (I’m 29…plus a couple…okay a few more years)? Well I might ask you – why the heck not?
So, a little backstory for you — last year I took a leap and decided to change careers to pursue a teaching degree. I have always wanted to teach but never took the plunge. Going back to school full-time this past year has come with its own challenges. The first being financial; how am I going to go back to school at this stage of the game and help support my family? I won’t lie, it has been tough year and this year will be no different. Secondly, I have felt selfish for going back to school; especially around the sacrifices my family has made and will continue to make. There won’t be any big family vacations for a while, and after-school activities are limited due to lack of time and funding. Pour this into my bottle of guilt.
To add to my crazy life, I have also maintained my position as a part-time research coordinator while being back in school. Again, more challenges. How do I balance full-time school, part-time work, and family responsibilities? I don’t. Many of my friends talk about how amazed they are that I can do it all. Well, here is a little secret, I feel like I am trying to do doing it all, but also feel that I am doing none of it well. I am usually stressed about school, about work, and oh yeah, taking care of my family. I always feel like I am dropping one of the many balls in my life. If I am focusing on one aspect of my life, I am stressing about the other ones that I feel are being neglected. Here is a sad example – as I lay down in bed with my children for nighttime snuggles, I am counting the seconds until they are asleep, so I can get back to my assignments or work – not fully enjoying those fleeting moments with them. Or even worse, some nights I tell them I can’t even lay down for snuggles because I have so much to do that night and I am already behind. Talk about mom-guilt, work-guilt, and student-guilt, all filling my big old guilty bottle. Needless to say, I am far from figuring it all out, I don’t have much advice for others, except this…take one day at a time. If I look ahead at all the assignments and deadlines coming up, I freeze, I panic, and I can’t focus on anything. I approach my life in little chunks and to-do lists that include smaller pieces of larger tasks – and get a little bit done each day. Perhaps you were like me back in my undergrad or high school, where I would leave a full assignment to start the night before! What was I thinking? Well as an “old student” or the “mom student”, I can’t afford to wait until the night before, or I may have a meltdown. I have to take every second of my day and make it count. If I have an hour break between classes, I can’t sit around and hang out. I better be working on readings, assignments, or work, because once I get home, its dinner for the kids, get them to their activities, and then bedtime routines. There is no time to waste.
As for my friends, they know I am unavailable until Christmas, as I don’t have a spare second to come out and play…which I know that I need desperately and should try to find that time. My friends are pretty awesome though and are always there if I need them.
So yes, back to school is a crazy time for everyone. I guess I should have a better understanding of how it is for my own kids and everyone heading back this week. It can be hard to adjust into the new routine of things. So, have some empathy for students everywhere, especially until everyone is able to find their groove again. For parents or any others who have gone back to school later in life, all I have to say is kudos to you all for following your dreams. I know it wasn’t an easy decision to do so. Changing your life in a major way is scary at first, but life is too short, so do what you want to do. I always think about the famous quote, “Find something you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life”….I think this is something everyone should strive for in life. Find that job that doesn’t feel like a job – something you just enjoy doing. Sounds simple right? I think that this may also ring true for many at the beginning of their careers, but as time goes on you change as a person and your passion for something may change with it. Know that it is okay to change as a person, and to change your career to fit the new you at any stage in your life. Change will be hard and it will be a bumpy road until you get to your destination, but I know that life keeps changing, and I am just trying to make it the best one that I can.