Wednesday, January 15, 2020

5 things I've learned from college

After next month I'm taking a little break from school. I started this journey back to college in 2016 and over the course of the past 4 years (with lots of intermissions in between) I have taken a total of 13 classes towards my teacher's license. I am hoping someday to work in the public school district teaching Kindergarten or First grade. I am hoping someday to be able to work hard in a career that I would be excited about and feel confident in. I am hoping someday to be a part of the world of educator's that are making a positive difference in the lives of children. I am also hoping to someday contribute to our family income so we can travel more and see the world. 

I was feeling really sad this morning about the fact that I need to take a break because I really have enjoyed going back to college. But the reality is I haven't fully enjoyed the stress that has often overpowered my ability to fully enjoy motherhood in the moment. There have been so many times where I have felt too much pressure and stress to complete deadlines and pass finals that I have missed opportunities to just play with my boys and enjoy the simple interactions with my family. These little ones of mine are growing up too fast! I don't want to be so consumed with the pressures of school that I miss the chance to be fully present with my boys.
 It would be a different story if school was easy peasy and I could breeze through these classes with no problems, but it's not like that. I'm a MOM first and these classes take TIME and ENERGY and a certain amount of stress to squeeze in all my responsibilities while also passing the required amount of classes per term to stay in good standing with my college and my federal grants. (The feds won't pay for my schooling if I can't keep up with 3 classes per 6 month term.) 
I mean, I'm NOT 2o years old anymore! I'm not just waking up and working on college at my leisure in between surf sessions and waitress shifts! I'm waking up and managing the daily lives of four human boys who's mental, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual needs are never-ending as they are growing up in this fast paced world, and who's wants are often demanding and time-consuming and who's desires to have a mom not preoccupied with her own stressy shiz, is the real deal. 
I can't always be worrying over weather or not I'm going to pass a class when I am guiding and teaching my little humans, planning their social events, taking them to their activities, being their cub scout leaders, organizing our family time, organizing the house, the chores, the animals, and not to mention the daily demands of laundry and dishes and dishes and laundry, repeat, repeat, repeat...  And not to mention the need to take care of MYSELF and my mental health needs. I have a long list of things I have to do everyday to stay sane as a person and it's exhausting (exercise, healthy foods, 8 hours sleep, journaling time, cleaning time, scripture time...). Having bouts of depression, PPMD once a month, and an intense desire to sleep, eat, and binge on Netfliz when life gets stressful can wear a person down.

The point is, I am choosing to be the better me. I am choosing to be the mom who is present and capable and mentally awake as my children are growing up too too too fast.
I was fervently praying one day about weather or not I should take a break from school as I really wanted a yes or no answer from God but it didn't happen that way. The impression I got was that I get to CHOOSE what kind of mom I want to be. It was a very empowering response from my Heavenly father, as He was giving me the option to make a choice based on my true desires and gut instincts, not necessarily what He wanted me to do or what the world wanted me to do, but what I felt was right in my heart of hearts.

So yes, I am sad to be taking a big break from school with no clear idea of when I will be starting  up again, but I am not going to regret the past time lost with my children or the time lost in the future working toward my degree. I am only going to be grateful NOW for the POWERFUL things I have learned since I started this journey. 

A few things I have learned since I started this journey in 2016:

1. Going back to college pushed me into a zone of such stress and discomfort that I was forced to face the reality of my current state of mental health. I painfully discovered that I was still suffering from Post-traumatic-stress-disorder from my teenage years and that I needed to address those issues in my life. I ended up doing EMDR therapy, which was life-changing in helping me overcome the stressful triggers that were negatively affecting my life and keeping me from moving forward.

2. Going back to college made me face some deep insecurities over my ability to learn and understand certain information. I hated math and didn't think I could do it, but I was able to finally learn some math and pass college algebra! (And although I've already forgotten most of what I learned, I am confident I can learn it again if I need to.)

3. Going back to college reminded me how much I love to learn. I love the process of absorbing new information and applying it to our current lives! I love that I got to take a United States history class and learn all about what events built our nation's current political system. It was perfect timing for me as we were getting ready to elect a new President of the U.S.at the time so I got to better understand firsthand how corrupt and confusing our voting procedures are.  And I love that I got to take a class on Special Education and learn about the reforms in educational policies that allow exceptional students to be less marginalized and more accepted in the classrooms. I couldn't believe that in the 1930's educators would blame the parents for having "retarded" children and then force them to stay home. Now we have classrooms where intellectually disabled children are mainstreamed into the regular classrooms and treated like equals, while also collaborating with the parents to help them get the best education possible!

4. Going back to college forced me to face some demons I had hiding in my back pocket. Sometimes math or other stressful deadlines combined with the stresses of life and raising children got so stressful that I turned to some very unhealthy and destructive coping mechanisms that I developed in my teenage years. These coping mechanisms would rear their ugly heads when things got too hard and too much for my mind to handle. College forced me to face these demons and get help to overcome them. I started attending the LDS addiction recovery program, which is something I never imagined I would do. It was/is life-changing and spiritually empowering and continues to help me to be honest and have hope and move forward in overcoming my addictions/unhealthy coping mechanisms. 

5. Going to college has reminded me that God is always with me through every step of my life. He is cheering for me, guiding me, loving me, rooting for me, and helping me to be the BEST version of myself as I navigate through this crazy thing called life. 

So yes, I am sad that I am taking a little break from college, but I am not sad that God has, once again, led me to exactly where I need to be.

p.s. I'm kinda laughing right now because as I was writing this I totally forgot to get my Kindergartner ready for school and he missed the bus and well, I guess it's a stay home day. ha!

Christmas eve day at Three Peaks Recreation

Mom n Mal at Christmastime

15 years married