Friday, October 23, 2015

Guru Jane: Fork in the Road of Life

 "Cigar smoking woman in Cuba" by Tibor Végh - Kuba 996.jpg. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Dear Guru Jane,

I’m having a really hard time. I’m a stay-at-home mom, and I love my kids and my life, but since my youngest is going to preschool next year, it has gotten me thinking. I started my degree, but when we had kids, my husband and I decided (together) that I would stay home with them. I love my kids, and am so thankful I have stayed home, but it is time to make some changes. I want to go back to school.

I had just finished my AA and was getting ready to start nursing school when we got pregnant. Now I want to go back, but I am so scared! I just don’t know if I can do it. I feel like my brain has slipped out of my head over the last 6 years, I just don’t feel smart enough any more. More than that, though, is the guilt I feel about not being there for my kids. If I go back to school, I won’t be able to go on all of the field trips. I won’t be there every day when they get home. What if one of them gets sick? What would I do? Will they feel neglected? Will they feel they are no longer important to me?

I feel so selfish wanting this for myself because I feel it's at the expense of my family. I need some advice.

Dear Conflicted,

First off, way to go being a SAHM! I’ll let you in on a little secret: Once you have been a SAHM, just about everything else is a cake walk! Momming is hard!

Well, I think we can break this one decision down into a few smaller, more easily digestible parts.

I’m going to start with you not feeling smart enough. For most women, it feels as if, from the moment you find out you are pregnant, you can’t get enough sleep and you just can't think straight any longer. Then the baby is born, and you feel like you literally live your life somewhere between sleep deprived and the walking dead. What you are touching on here is a big problem many moms face - not feeling "adult" smart anymore. The reasons for this "dumbed down" feeling can vary widely, in my opinion. First, too much Disney and Nick Jr. rots parents' know you hum some of those songs while showering. Then, there is the repeating yourself. Yes, I said repeating yourself. When you have told Child #1 not to steal Child #2's toy for the 17 gazillionth time, you begin to question your brain power and your sanity. And let's not forget about the lack of adult conversations that do not revolve around sleep patterns, poop schedules, and organic vs non-organic. It's a whole new world! 

Here's yet another piece of the puzzle: The life of a SAHM often does not include positive reinforcement. Do you remember when you were in the paying workforce or at school, and you did something new, right, or amazing? If you think back, someone would say something along the lines of "great job!" or "way to go!" or "wow, you are so smart!" SAHM's don't get a lot of this. It's really no one's fault; Parent #2 is usually pretty sleep deprived too. BUT it can make a huge difference in self-esteem. When you don't feel so great about yourself, you question your abilities and knowledge as well. So, as far as not being smart enough or capable enough, girl, you are now smarter and more capable than ever! How many times have you outwitted your kids into eating their vegetables? Win one for team Smart Mom!

Let's move on to talk about you feeling selfish. This is something that almost every mom feels whether they stay at home or work. At times, it feels selfish to not make your kids the center of your world. The thing is - before you were a mom, before you were a wife/partner - you were "you." And at times we moms lose a little (or a lot) of that "you." Not only is it important for you to get back your "you," I would say it is imperative! 

Something many moms forget is that we model for our children. It is another case of, do as I say, not as I do. Kids watch, kids learn, and kids repeat. Remember, mom, they do this for both good and bad behaviors, speech, and ways of thinking. If you feel and/or behave like you don't matter, how will your kids treat you? And how will they think adults should feel about themselves? As a mom, finding "you" again is not selfish; it is actually one of the most giving things you can do! It shows your kids how important you are, and aren't we all trying to teach our kids how important they are???

I would love to say there's an easy answer for not being there all the time. But there isn't. It is important to be there for your kids. It is important to love them and provide for them. It is important that you give them your time and attention. But it is also important they know you love yourself, and care enough about yourself to take care of yourself and follow your dream(s). Sometimes life happens and our time with our kids becomes quality instead of quantity. Please remember, because your kids will, it really is the quality that counts!

Going back to school is hard. You will be busy. You will miss out on things. You will lose more sleep. The key thing to remember is: School does not last forever. It is a season in your life; in fact, it is a pretty short season. 

This is one of those short term vs long term, pro vs con moments. Yes, you will lose some time in the short run. But what will you gain in the long run? What will your kids see and learn from you going back to school? What will they see and learn from having to work together as a (family) team to get things done around the house a little more? What will they learn from not getting all of your attention all the time? What will they see and learn from watching you succeed? These are important questions to ask yourself and to answer yourself honestly. 

I'm obviously a huge proponent of school. I think it is a challenge for the whole family, no matter who the adult student is. I think it can really help your family work together, and encourage your family to be proud of each other and themselves. 

The decision to go back to school is yours and yours alone. I can only say that it sounds like you have already made your decision - you just need to take another scary leap. But hey, you're a parent. The scariest leap is behind you!

Good luck and kick some ass!

Guru Jane

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