Part I: June
When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in May, I had just finished a very busy year of taking classes full-time and working so hard at it that I made the Distinguished Dean’s List the last two semesters, while having an on-campus job and volunteering. This is on top of being a mom to three boys, though my husband mainly handled the child-rearing while I focused on school. When I graduated, I planned on taking the summer off and returning head-on to the graduate program full-time in the fall, again while working as a graduate assistant. Then the summer came.
I’ve had a chance to purely be a mom again, and I love it. I get to take my boys on more adventures, and most importantly, I get to spend more time enjoying the simple everyday moments at home that I previously missed. I’ve had a chance to concentrate on my health and finally work on exercising daily and eating well, something that I couldn’t do while stressed and in school full-time, especially considering I have a notorious problem with stress eating. Another thing that I have been able to do is sleep! Sometimes until 9am, if the kids allow it, and I take a nap with my littlest ones almost every day. It has been wonderful.
It has also led me to question my next steps.
What if I switched to the part-time graduate program and it took four years instead of two? I am about to turn 40 — what are two extra years? Part-time school would be much fewer hours each school year spent in class and studying, and many more hours of spending time with and making memories with my children. Though what if I can’t take the graduate assistantship if I switch to part-time? I would miss out on the experience and the financial benefits that come from it, but sometimes isn’t time more valuable than money? These are important things to consider and think deeply about.
Ultimately, this summer has taught me to slow down. Life isn’t a race. So, what if it has taken me forever to complete my degrees and start my “real” career? In the end, that really isn’t going to matter. What will matter is that my kids will remember that I was there for them, even while pursuing a degree.
Part II: July
So, why does this post have two parts? I started writing this post in June before I had made up my mind. I was going to attend grad school part-time, take four years, and leisurely enjoy my extra time at home with my kids. But sometimes God has other plans for us.
I started inquiring with my university as to what it would take to switch to part-time. First, I wouldn’t be able to hold the graduate assistantship position that I was offered if I went part-time, which would mean the loss of that great opportunity and income. Also, another obstacle was that my classes would be on Sunday mornings when my husband is at work, so I would more than likely be attending via Zoom with my toddlers running crazy in the background. After contacting the program and mentioning this, I learned that the classes were being switched to the afternoon and evening, starting when my husband would be home from work. What are the chances?
I am not one to believe in coincidence; instead, I feel everything leads us to what we should be doing, and after talking to my husband about it, he agreed as well. I don’t yet know the reason, but feel in my gut that going to school full-time is the correct and best choice, and I feel that’s the graduate assistantship will be an important experience for me that I also don’t want to miss.
So, there were actually two lessons that I learned this summer. First, was the value of the time that I spend with my children. Though my plans have changed, I still hold this lesson close to my heart and value every minute this summer — and beyond — with them. But I also learned that sometimes, even if you think that one route is best for yourself or your family, another may actually be better.