Despite the grim title, “hard” is a relative term. What I thought was hard when I was 30 is not nearly the same as what challenges me at 44. That said, life still gets hectic at times. I started graduate school (MSW) this fall, which comes complete with 16 hours of internship, 14 hours of class, and 12+ hours of reading and writing every week. That would be hard for any average person, but then you throw in taking care of a one-year-old and an 11-year-old stepdaughter and the tricky quotient goes up by a factor of 5. I’m a newlywed as well, but since we’ve lived together a long time, that’s kind of irrelevant. Well, it’s relevant only in the sense that we are still in the honeymoon phase and prince charming still puts up with a lot.
The blog and all other things I would put in the fun category took a backseat to the workload this quarter (10-weeks), but now I’m basking in the glow of a 6-week break. I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about the holiday season. The 10-week haul also gave me some well-needed perspective on how grateful I am to be in my position. For a few reasons… and in no particular order:
- I have internet access. For those of you thinking of returning to school after a long break, know this: students have it so much easier now than us Generation-Xers did. No longer does a person have to spend countless hours in the library researching articles and finding books related to your chosen research topic only to find that no one has ever written on that subject and likely because no one cares about it. But now you’ve wasted 8 hours finding that out. Today, I can access the college libraries databases, not to mention the world-wide web’s endless stream of information, at the touch of my fingertips. Writing papers takes a fraction of the time it took me 20 years ago in undergrad.
- I look forward to family time. Not getting to spend time with family for long stretches on the weekends and some weeknights takes its toll. I can see how much I treasure that time. Before I had a child or a stepchild, I thought I’d never be able to give up all my downtime. I hated the idea that all my free time would be hijacked by those damn kids. Years later, I see what a gift it is to have my own little family. Yes, of course I still need downtime here and there, but not nearly as much as I used to think I did. I can’t wait to hang out with my little entourage.
- I have a fully functioning mind and body. No – its not ideal. I have chronic sinusitis and allergies. I seem to be becoming gluten-intolerant (NOOOOOO!). And I have 40-something aches and pains. But I have a sharp mind, the ability to write complete sentences, and resourcefulness to figure out how to go back to college for 2 years after becoming a new mom and quitting my job mid-life. I have many skills and abilities that I often take for granted. This past 2 and a half months shed some light on how much I have in me when I reach for it.
So, if you are considering a career change or just want to take a few classes while you’re working full-time, part-time, or not at all, you can totally do it. You’ll need reinforcements (aka hubby, boyfriend, partner, older kids, good friends, family), but they want to help you anyway. Asking for it is the hard part. Accepting the help makes them feel needed and happy. Actually receiving the help brings you all closer together, working toward the common goal of making mommy smarter and more marketable. And that benefits everyone. A happy mommy makes a happy everyone else.