I am writing this post on the weekend, but by the time it's posted, I will have been back to school for a few days.
Going back to school last semester was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I know that sounds melodramatic, but it's true. Scarlett was only 6 weeks old, and I feel like the clinic supervisor gave me a very intense clinical schedule considering I had just had a baby. On top of that, my hormones were still out-of-whack, which meant my emotions were all over the place. I felt stressed out, guilty, and depressed all the time. On top of that, Scarlett was underweight, I was nursing and had to worry about pumping on my long days, my grandma had just passed away, my sister was planning to move away from the area, and it was just more than I was ready to deal with. There were so many days when I thought about taking the semester off, or felt terrible jealousy of my friends who were able to be stay-at-home moms.
I think being a working mom will be very difficult, but I'm thinking being a grad-school mom might be even harder. Because last semester when I came home at the end of the day, I was not done for the day. I had lots of homework and lesson plans to complete all while entertaining/taking care of/feeding a baby. I felt like I had no quality time to spend with her and it was killing me.
As the semester went on, it got a little easier. I had a huge paper due on November 13 (it ended up being 22 pages long) and there were 2 weeks leading up to that when I feel like I literally had not a single moment of free time for her, and I was sleeping about 4 or 5 hours a night. I felt like I was about to reach my breaking point during those weeks. But then once that paper was handed in, everything got so much easier! I realized that the semester had flown by! I learned to stop feeling guilty. I decided that I didn't need to get all A's as long as I passed all my classes. And I decided to put spending time with Scarlett and Luke first, and school second. Things got so much easier when I realized that's how my priorities need to be. I have to put God first, my family second, and everything else after that.
The funny thing is that I still got all A's this semester. All that worrying for grades that really don't even matter all that much (although to be honest I am proud that I was able to do that with a new baby, and with my difficult research methods class that semester). One of my clinic supervisors paid me the highest compliment I think she could have when she said, "You did a great job this semester! If you hadn't talked about your infant at home, I would have had no idea. You never let it make you late or effect your work at all." That made me feel really good, because I never wanted to get special treatment as a new mom, and I never wanted the two worlds to mix.
So I got pretty good at not letting new mommy-hood affect my school and clinic work, but I'm sad to say that it took me the entire semester to realize I could prevent my school and clinic work from affecting the time I had with Scarlett. Next semester I want to spend more time with her NOT feeling rushed or like I should be studying or doing something else.
This is turning into kind of a stream-of-consciousness post. Anyway, onto this semester. I have my school externship, and I can't wait! I think I want to work in the schools, so I'm really excited. My supervisor seems really sweet, and I think she will be great to work with (and I've had a couple not-so-great-to-work-with supervisors in the past, so that's a relief!)
Overall I am feeling so much better about going back to school this semester than last! My emotions are more normal and in-check, I am excited to be in a school, and I'm more interested in my classes this semester than I was last semester. I guess things are really looking up!
The best part is I only have 2 semesters left, and I'll graduate in August. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel helps too! I'll be so excited when I graduate, get a job, and actually get paid (instead of paying tens of thousands of dollars) for all the work I put in. And the amount of at-home work should be greatly reduced or even non-existent as well.
15 weeks until I'm 1 semester away from graduation. Bring it on, spring semester, 2014. Scarlett and I are ready for you!