A lot of you may feel discouraged to pursue graduate school while raising a family. I know the feeling. There’s guilt.
Guilt of not being able to be always present, guilt of missing out on birthdays, guilt of not witnessing your child’s first steps, and the guilt of not being able to pursue your dream. Oh, and to make things even more interesting, there’s also that “un-said” stigma that you’d have to face because you chose career over family. Yep, that’s a lot of internal battles.
To give you a little bit of background, I currently have 2 toddlers, a 5-year old and a 3-year-old. They bring joy and color in my life (+/- the walls). Both are homeschooled and have extra-curricular activities that keep them active. Despite having 2 girls, let me just say, they’re just as handful as little boys. Of course, my experience in that subject matter is limited, but since I am in control of this narrative, let me just briefly rant about the struggles of cleaning up after your child’s glittery artwork.
Despite knowing that the odds were stacked against me. I still pursued and chose the path less traveled. Why? Simply because the sweetest and best fruits don’t just fall from trees. It takes perseverance, sacrifice, love, and patience. If you’re into growing your garden, you know what I’m talking about. I also knew that 10 years from now, I want my daughters to understand the concept of not giving up when the waters get rough. I want them to see how the support of your loved one’s can push you forward and give you the strength to overcome hurdles, no matter how challenging it may be. As we say in our home “Family ALWAYS sticks together”.
So, if you’re interested in moving forward, here are the things I've told my brain...
Use your experience to your advantage
You’re a parent. OWN it! You may not be the youngest person in the room but you have the greatest asset to offer, and that’s the POWER of COMMUNICATION. When you have kids, you of all people know HOW IMPORTANT good communication is. So use it to your advantage! Seek for available resources around you, whether it be on campus, the community, or other family members. Ask, verbalize, and make your needs known.
Manage your time well
This one’s really important. Im not saying you have to be a wizard BUT you really need to practice self-discipline and learn to be the master of your time. Remember there’s only one you. Be as efficient as possible. Know that time is going to be the greatest currency you’ll have while in school.
I know, “life is already busy even BEFORE school. How am I going to handle the demands of school work on top of raising kids?”
Be creative. Set alarms, use post-its, white boards, self-scheduled text messages and emails (that’s a thing? Yes… yes it is) Be 3 steps ahead. Think of “what-IF” problems and ways of how you’d handle each step.
Why? “Doesn’t that just add more stress?”. To others, this might be true, but as a mom, I personally can’t stand the thought of leaving things up to chance. I’m not trying to control every single aspect in my/my family’s life. I’m trying to mentally prepare myself to be ready when things go unplanned. You know, just like how you have to teach kids to practice “fire-drills”. Yes, science can back me up here.
I’d like to think of it as, me carrying 3 more extra diapers when going out, you know…when things go south. I wouldn’t want to be caught having to wonder, “oh dear…there goes number 2”. I’d rather be overly prepared than deal with the stress of being unprepared.
Lastly, don’t underestimate “perspective”
It is so easy to give in to fear and anxiety.
If you only knew that it was just 2 days ago that we lost our vehicle,
That my parents got into a car accident,
That my dad’s health is declining,
That I have absolutely ZERO income coming in,
That I am still BOOKS (not chapters) behind (regarding to my academic readings)
And that I have an exam in the next 2 days, and then the day after that, and then the day after that…
My point is, you are not invisible and you are not alone…So do not surrender to the sad music hindering you from moving forward.
Though it can be very easy to succumb to these outside stressors…
Do not let it define who you are.
It does not have the power to take control over you…
So don’t give it permission.
Regardless of how convincing self-limiting thoughts may sound, find comfort in knowing that these are NOT FACTS.
You can 100% rely on the science that at this very moment, your emotional mind is fully capable of lying to you.
You are worthy and you are loved.
So whenever you feel overwhelmed, return to reason and recall all the good in your life…
big and SMALL.
Whether it be occasionally treating yourself with some donuts,
The success of buying a new home,
Finally getting some cleaning done around the house,
Seeing your loved one
…or a catching a glimpse of how well you’ve raised your child…
Close your eyes and smile.
You will make it through.
Stop worrying aimlessly.
It does not aide to solutions, just problems.
And if you believe, just like I do, that there is an Almighty God who is in control, by all means, pour out your heart and trust Him. I have, because it is impossible for man, but not for God.