Our family each started a big, new thing last week: my toddler began a new daycare, my four year old began a new pre-k program, my husband began a new job as a vice principal, and I started grad school.

Why am I doing grad school? I have a young family, my husband and I both have fulfilling jobs, and let’s be honest, I don’t have a ton of free time. Oh, and there is no inheritance from Grandma to pay the tuition bills. I get comments from the peanut gallery all the time.

The truth is, I’ve wanted to go back to school for nine years. I took the GREs in 2005, secured a job in my targeted field of urban planning, and committed to working for two years to gain experience. But a funny thing happened on the way to grad school: I really loved my job as a planning consultant, and didn’t see the purpose in going to school to get the exact job I had. This was pre-marriage, when I was footloose and fancy free. Looking back, I had a disposable income that would’ve covered tuition nicely. But I didn’t go then, so that’s that!

A move and subsequent (epic!) job search revealed that I was often edged out by applicants with Masters degrees. I yearned not for the piece of paper, but for the education and specialized training. My background in fine arts is absolutely valuable to my job, but there are gaps that I want to fill, and things I want to do that I’m not yet equipped to.

Ever so carefully adding another pursuit to my life.

Ever so carefully adding another pursuit to my life.

My mom and mother-in-law pursued grad school when they had young kids. Both educators, they completed night school and did homework while cheering for their children at swim meets. They are inspiring women, who managed to be good students and attentive moms. I suspect doing this now, while my girls are not yet in elementary school, is slightly easier – I have more control over our schedules. What happens when we add Brownies, gymnastics, or swim team to the mix?

Is grad school convenient? Not at all. Is it worth it? I don’t know yet. I’m going to dip my toe in the water with one course, and see how it goes. My professor knows that I’m a working mom, with deadlines and small kids to care for. He’s assured me that he’s flexible, and that he, too, completed school when his two girls were small.

I’ve reduced my work hours by 25%, and went to orientation last week. I left very excited for this semester. My pencils are sharpened; I’m thirsty for knowledge!

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