A few months ago I blogged about my adventure starting grad school. I mentioned I was taking one course to see how it went. Now we are nearing the end of the semester, and though I love school and love learning, I’ve decided not to continue right now.
It’s not easy for me to give up this dream. I worked really hard to get to this spot, thought I bided my time well and made the necessary arrangements, but the truth is my kids are so young and school challenges my ability to be the mom I want to be. That’s it. They need me, and I want to be there for them. We have young kids for a limited season of our lives.
I knew it’d be a challenge, though figured my reduced work hours will simply fill up with school, and that my family would barely notice. In truth, commuting and participating in class takes 10 hours a week, but doing the homework, then projects, takes a lot more. Every night after we clean up dinner and get the girls in bed, I rush to my home office to finish work or homework, and later crawl into bed utterly exhausted. No meal planning, no working out, bare minimum of house and marriage maintenance. Basic self-care is ignored. For example, I work right up to the moment I need to leave for school, then groan upon realizing that I need to pack a snack, go to the bathroom, and get some water for my commute (“UGH so annoying that I need to eat!!”).
On weekends I block a chunk of time to get my work done while Dave manages the girls. My workload usually spills over this time, so the rest of my weekend is spent jockeying between duties. I really like my professor and the content of my course, but barely keep up with the reading. I feel that I’m checking a box in every area of my life – as a wife, mom, employee, and student – to move onto the next task. At school, I breeze in for two class meetings per week (when work deadlines don’t dictate otherwise), while my peers are a cohort, a unit fully immersed in academic camaraderie. Okay, maybe that’s just my perception, but still.
It took me a few months to realize: this is not how I want to live my life. I don’t want to be a constantly frazzled mom willing her toddler and preschooler to clock major weekend naps to afford homework time. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes being frazzled is expected, and I love when they nap, but I don’t want the success of my projects to hinge on that. Our girls are in daycare all week; I want to be with my kids and husband on the weekends.
Life is busy, hands down. But it doesn’t have to be this busy. I need to temper the insane workload. My passion to learn – and the option to go to grad school – will always be there. But my little kids, with their tiny voices and ridiculous mismatched outfits and living room dance parties, will not.