We’ve been struggling a little bit for the last while and I was trying to figure out how to meet our family’s needs, while protecting our future (we’ll call it my “parachute”). My honey and I had decided that it would work for both needs if I returned to complete a second master’s degree. I could defer my student loans, to give us a bit of a break and I could add in an accounting and finance degree that would open up options for me down the road.
Then life did what it always does and new information came out, things changed, and opportunities opened up. I began to doubt that the choice would work for us under the new circumstances, but my honey and I talked and we figured it was just a bad week, that I could still do it.
Last night, as we sat cuddled up on the couch watching tv, it hit me that I was well and truly done with it. I had been anxious all day and it wouldn’t leave me alone – like an alarm bell going off in my intuition, ringing loudly that I shouldn’t do it. I’d think about the work I would be obligated to do and the work that needs to be done for my family, then I’d have that flash that tells me not to proceed with my enrollment.
In a counterpoint to what I had been feeling for the last few days, the tv show that we were watching dealt with characters who were going through life changes and trying to make decisions that would allow them to do what they needed to do. A woman had decided to go back to pre-med school after her children were grown, only to find out she was pregnant again. Her ambivalence and the discussions she had with her husband were framed around the idea that is was “her time” and she really hurt over being pinned between what should be a happy time and her own needs.
This carried on over a couple of episodes and it hit me that was what I was facing too. I had been gnawing on the problem mentally for a few days, feeling at odds with certain needs versus what I really need. I’ve done my education. I’ve paid those heavy dues in lost time with my children, stress, and huge weight gain. The reasons to do the second degree were valid and admittedly, I have a strong intellectual drive that gets fulfilled in a structured learning environment. Being at the whim of higher ed for employment can be a bit disconcerting, particularly when you factor in this crazy election and the possible funding fall out for research, upon which my job is dependent.
A little financial break by having my loans deferred while I was in school would have helped take the edge off our finances. My honey works at a student job for $7.75 an hour, with crazy, irregular hours and little hope for increases over time. The financial break from deferred loans would have offset that and eased my worries.
Then he got the email offering him his old job back – the one with the non-profit company that he liked. The details were firmed up late yesterday and suddenly there was an option to my going to school.
To add to it all, I asked my oldest his thoughts on my going back to school and he was honest. He didn’t want me to do it. We talked about the reasons and talked about his side of things. He was willing to give it a test drive for 4 months and then we’d re-evaluate the decision. It was a blessing to be able to go tell him this morning that I’m completely done with school. His happiness and cheer at the news only emphasized that I made the right choice.
To add to the new job factor for my honey, my oldest was just accepted into a children’s all-city honor choir here in our city. This new additional obligation for time and practice means it’s all the more important that I focus on being fully here for my family. My small guy needs time working on reading and learning how to express himself. He has been on the short end of everything for years… It’s time to get him to the head of the line!
I’ve spent a long, long time identifying as a student, as a life-long learner. It has always been the path for me. Not anymore. That chapter is fully closed. I guess it took coming right down to the 11th hour to see where I needed to be and what I needed to do. Now that I’ve fully committed to it, I feel freedom and a sense of liberation that is amazing. There may be a little fall out from it all, since I missed a deadline and will have to get everything wrapped up… but it’s worth it.
I’m still figuring out how to best take care of my family and myself. Old set behaviors, paths and rhythms have to be set aside. It’s time to create new ways of doing things. Higher education is a great path, but there comes a day when you jump out of the nest and use what you’ve been given.
Here’s to jumping!