Reflections on being a full-time student and mom – part 1

As the semester wraps up, I thought a little reflection was in order.

We took the plunge when I registered full-time at Towson University this semester.  And when I say “we,” I mean me, my husband, and my four children.  Come to think of it, my going to back to college has even affected our dog and bearded dragon.

When Mom’s not around as frequently, life is just different.

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     A photograph that I took for my Photojournalism class.  My professor said it would have been great if a flock of geese had been flying by.  So true.

Going back to college at age 46, especially when you have four children, ranging from age 8 to 18, is certainly not for everyone.  But it can work if you have a game plan.

I thought it might be helpful to share some of the steps we took in reaching this decision and some of the pitfalls I have faced as a mom.

In Part 2 of this post, I will share some of the lessons I learned in my classes and how those lessons have trickled down into my personal life as well as my parenting.

Reaching the decision:

The most important thing is to make sure your family is on board and supportive of your decision to go back to school.  Before I registered for a single class, Matt and I sat down with our kids and we talked about the sacrifices each of us would need to make.  Be realistic with your children about what this will look like in their world.

Since I’ve never done this before, I talked with other moms who went back to school.  I listened so that I could learn and try my best to prepare my family for the inevitable changes.  If you do not have a complete buy in from your family – don’t do it.

Not getting home till almost 6 p.m. on certain days meant that Matt would have to help the kids with their homework.  NEWS ALERT:  Matt hates doing homework.  He’s hated homework since he was in first grade!  Nothing has changed since then.  This was a big adjustment for my husband and little guys, who know dad is not the “homework person.”

It meant that my older daughter would need to meet the younger kids at the bus stop, which sometimes affected what she could and couldn’t do after school.  She then had to babysit until Matt got home.

So basically, life looks different and everyone is giving more while I am seemingly taking more.   [more on this in Part 2]

My dog, Cooper, is sad when I put my backpack on and head for the door and even Blaze, our bearded dragon, has had to get used to a new cricket-eating schedule.

Pitfalls

When it has come to meal planning, I’ve missed the rope and fallen into the swamp.  The alligator has devoured me on more than one occasion.  The scorpion has stung me.

Translation:  My family has eaten lots of pizza, frozen waffles, vegetable soup (their least favorite) and yes, even cereal for dinner this semester.  Matt has bought stock in Chipotle.

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There weren’t many shining dinner moments, but this is one of them.  It’s the reason I documented it.

I started out great.  I had a little chart that I posted on the fridge and everyone knew what dinner was coming.  There was excitement for that baked ziti and anticipation as Taco Tuesday rolled around.

And then I had a news reporting story due.  And then I had to read a lengthy, challenging, paper by a wordy philosopher for my ethics class.  Oh, and then I had to watch a movie and write a paper analyzing certain societal depictions.  Did I mention that I am the slowest writer on the planet?

So instead of planning meals and making good, healthy, dinners when I was home and could, I chose a life behind my MacBook Air while my family scavenged for food.  This didn’t happen all the time, but it happened enough.

The good thing is, with better planning on my part, I can make it across the swamp next time around.  I won’t make it every time and that’s alright, but a little less vegetable soup will make everyone happy.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

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