“Back to School” had a much different ring to it this year in the Wesson household.
My daughter, Rachel, was excited to go into first grade, see all her friends again, meet her teacher and get back into her classroom routine. But this year, while picking out back to school clothes, getting a Thirty One lunch box embroidered with her name, and packing a Descendants backpack for the first day, I was running through all the changes that were going to occur for me as I reentered the classroom for the first time in 8 years, because Mama was going back to nursing school. Having been in school for the past two months, I have learned very quickly that it is much more difficult to be a student while having a family at home than I anticipated.
I am no longer able to stay up all hours of the night to study.
That’s something I used to do easily as a 20 year-old earning my first degree. As a 33 year-old Mom of 2, my normal routine has been to get in bed and try to rest right after I get my 20 month-old to sleep- because you know, a Mama needs to get sleep in when she can. I’m the kind of person who functions best from 9am to 9pm and that’s it. I’m learning that once it’s past 9pm, my ability to absorb information quickly diminishes and I’m reading things over and over just to process the words. I swear, there have been times I’ve read pages in my nursing text 3 or 4 times and have no idea what I’ve read. It’s really frustrating. I have a feeling that even if I needed to pull an all-nighter like I used to do, there’s no physical way I could even attempt to do it now.
It’s 10 times harder to get focused and stay focused than it used to be.
My mind is constantly drawn to what the kids are doing, who needs me, my at-home businesses, the cleaning that should be done, the extracurricular activities that we all participate in, the family time I’m missing out on, and everything else I consider important. I’d like to be able to blame it on Mommy brain but I have honestly been wondering if this is normal or if I’ve developed a form of adult Attention Deficit Disorder because of my inability to concentrate. My husband keeps insisting that I need to leave the house to study so that I can focus, but it’s so inconvenient to have to drive somewhere to study. But he may be onto something because when I’m at home, the second I come out of the bedroom to grab a drink or snack or empty my bladder, the kids run to me with joy in their eyes, thinking I’m able to come out and play. It breaks my heart to peel them off of me and seclude myself in the bedroom with only the company of my books and highlighters.
Social media has been a huge distraction.
I didn’t have access to a smartphone while earning a bachelor’s degree or my LPN, so it was much easier to detach from the world and focus on my studies. To be honest, I’m quite horrified that I have the ability to waste 30 minutes on my phone in what feels like the blink of an eye. The sound of my phone vibrating on the table beside me is enough to send me into an internal fight over whether to look or not. I cannot emphasize enough how annoyed I am with myself over that. I’ve resorted to setting a timer for 30 minutes of study and then 5 minutes to check email, texts, and notifications. Believe me, I’m SMH-ing at myself, but it works.
Having kids that want my attention piles on the guilt while I’m at school and studying.
I had to have a conversation with my daughter about no longer being the “fun Mommy” anymore and it crushed me. I know she misses spending quality time with me while I’m locked away in my room studying. And when she comes to me with her big sad eyes and tells me she misses me, I can’t help but question the time I’m taking away from her and her brother. While I know this is just a temporary situation and I will graduate (fingers crossed) in May with my RN, it breaks my heart to miss out on these moments in their lives as they’re growing and learning.
I’m fighting a constant battle in my head with feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy.
While I know that I’m pretty smart, have good reasoning skills and the determination to get through this year, I can’t help but struggle with a lack of self-confidence and fear of failure. I feel like I’m behind the ball because I’ve been out of nursing school for a while and have been working in a position that hasn’t allowed me to utilize my nursing skills. The majority of the other students in the class have had clinical practice for the last year and are used to the ebb and flow of school life. That assumption on my part (because let’s face it, there is no real data telling me these other students have it all together, just my perspective) leaves me feeling like I’m still trying to figure out how to balance all the different aspects of my life successfully.
All I have to say is thank goodness for my husband! If I didn’t have him to keep an eye on the kids, entertain them, feed them, get them on the bus and to daycare while I’m away at clinical and school, and give them the attention they deserve, I would be an absolute mess (more so than I already am, that is). Let me give a huge shout out to all you ladies out there doing the same thing as single moms: rocking jobs and kids and school like a Boss, all in an effort to better yourselves and your children. Because I get it, being an adult student with a family is hard, really hard. I’m on a mission to reorganize my studying and figure out what works best for me and my family so that while Mama goes back to school, we can all have a good experience.