Dear Student-Parent, Actions speak louder than words. We inspire by what we do, I'm sure of it - now.
Story of my life.
My journey back to higher education was far from a smooth one. It began with a cross country car ride and a ton of faith. Six weeks after having my daughter I re-enrolled in the local community college in order to finish up a few classes I needed to transfer to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (my only school of choice due to location). With a six week old and a three year old in my care, I loaded up my backpack and headed back to class.
During this five year adventure I changed many diapers, slept very little, and CONSTANTLY struggled with guilt and self doubt...while I juggled course work, child care, employment and self-care.
With pure determination and the gracious support of my family *esp my mother and father*, college faculty, and friends five years later I graduated with my masters and and increased yearning for a doctoral degree. Bonus: I made many new friends on campus who have become an extension of my family (and you guessed it - many of them were student-parents too).
If you're also a mom or student-parent here is what I'd like to share with you. Please keep reading...
#1. You're not alone - have you seen the numbers? - there are 48 million of us!
#2. Keep going - yes keep going forward - pace yourself if you must
#3. Find a network - many schools have a student-parent network (*if it's not too late enroll in a college with a strong program for student-parents and if all else fails create your own)
#4. Keep going - don't give up - you're welcome for the reminder
#5. Ask for help - use your network for "just in case" times when you need to sleep, study, shower, or stare at the wall to recoop (*no judgement a little alone time is good for ya)
#6. Don't turn around look forward - if all else fails read the research about how a parents educational obtainment affects children
#7. Remember to breath and eat and sleep when you can - this time won't last forever
#8. Don't loose hope - You're your child/children's inspiration - they are watching you!
#9. You got this!
#10. See story below...
A moment in time.
About two weeks ago I took my son fun shopping. Although he had a number of gift cards, to Toys R Us from his birthday, he insisted on stopping by the bookstore. While we were there we picked out three of his favorite books. As we were headed towards the checkout lane he pointed to the book, The Day the Crayons Quit. (If you haven't read this story you should - it is hilarious.) He grabbed the book and we sat and read it together. If anyone was listening they had to have heard us laughing out loud in the center of the children's section. What captured my interest that day was his zest for learning through reading.
In that moment it hit me, my son had fell in love with books just like I did about five years ago.
What I realized is that although the prior five years were really difficult my actions had allowed him to embrace learning too. So if at any point you need to slow down or pace yourself for the sake of your family - do it BUT DON'T stop going in the directions of your dreams especially if becoming more educated is one of them. Remember, you got this!