Monday, August 22, 2011

New Beginnings

Today is the first day of school - not for my children, but for me. I recently decided to go back to school, a decision that was not made lightly. I am already very busy - I am married, I have a home, I have four children who are active and involved in sports and extracurricular programs, I homeschool (a full-time job in itself), I work as a project manager (20-30 hours/week), I need to exercise to stay sane, and I enjoy having enough down time that I feel rested and refreshed. To add going back to school to the list seemed no only impossible, but downright crazy.  But impossible or not, crazy or not,  I've decided that it's time.

I was in law school when I found out that I was pregnant with my first daughter. I was lucky that the school allowed me to switch to part-time status after she was born and I kept going. But hopping on the Metro or driving down Connecticut Avenue to meet my husband and exchange the baby for a backpack was difficult for me. I remember pumping breastmilk in the student bathroom, wanting to die of simultaneous embarrassment and exhaustion. I remember falling asleep trying to finish my Contract Law reading with my baby sleeping in my arms. Looking back, I can see that I had many big changes all at once and on the inside I was overwhelmed - I'd graduated college in the spring, married in the summer, moved across country, started law school, and was still trying to figure out how to manage all of the above when I found out I was pregnant. When my first was 6 months old, I realized I was pregnant with my second daughter (which helped explain the exhaustion) and reality set in - I didn't want to juggle children with law school. I wanted to be fully present at home. So I put my law degree on hold and decided to go back after a year or two.

Flash forward two years, and I had three babies and one more on the way. I also had no interest in becoming a lawyer. So I officially withdrew from the University (it was not easy to do - this particular school values their near-perfect matriculation rate and they worked hard to keep me going). But even looking past the actually schooling, I knew that 80-hour work weeks were not something I wanted. So I left that behind. However, I didn't leave behind the desire to eventually pursue a higher degree. I figured that once my girls were in school I would have more time to devote to myself and my interests.

I didn't count on becoming a homeschool parent. Homeschooling has been wonderful and I wouldn't change it. I don't have plans to stop homeschooling, though you never know what is around the corner.  But certainly homeschooling for me meant that my idea of going back to school went on the back burner. Especially since my girls are very close in age - having very young children all together means lots of parent time. Over the years I've toyed with various schemes and plans for going back to school, but for one reason or another (all valid reasons I think) I didn't follow through.

Until now. Currently, my youngest daughter is seven, and while there is no denying that she is a handful and requires more of me than my other girls did at age seven, she is no longer a toddler clinging to me at all times. And the girls are gaining independence every day. Clearly they are my priority and they still need me, but I am able to grab an hour here and there. And my plan is very simple - take one class at a time. And keep doing this until I'm done. I'm certain that at some point, I'll be able to take several classes at a time, but I don't want to have to think about that time. I'm focusing on the first class.

And that class starts today... wish me luck!

3 comments:

  1. Best of luck!

    What are you studying?

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  2. That is so impressive, and brave. I can't imagine going back to school - and I only have one. Hope your first day was grand. Good luck!

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  3. Thank you! I'm studying psychology - I have a BS in Anthropology (Biological) and would love to combine both fields somehow - maybe evolutionary psychology? We'll see. :)

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