No one said it would be easy. They did say I could do it. What no one told me is just how much I would be giving up in order to complete college. I’m not sure most of them knew. I didn’t really know until I was knee-deep in turnouts and books. If you are a working parent thinking of college and just want an honest take on the true sacrifice it will take, read on. I’m about to share with you what it took for myself and my whole family to make it through this year.
This will be a list of thank you and some real truth. I preface this by adding that while I was pregnant with baby #4 I finished a full year of college. Fast forward seven years and here we are. The beginning of my back-to-college year.
I started off by taking a computer class and an EMT class. I was managing two restaurants at the time. This required help from grandparents and aunt/uncle. They watched our kids after school for three nights a week. Our children stayed up later than normal because of it, but this season was only a few months.
Nick and I were exhausted from the constant car switching and later nights. Other people were responsible for helping our kids with homework and bathing. I knew we couldn’t sustain for long like this. Honestly, I felt so guilty. I didn’t want to have to ask people to do these things for us. They were gracious and willing, but I wanted to see me kids. I’m grateful we had this help and we couldn’t have gotten through this time without it.
I changed jobs. I had to it was getting rough. I worked fewer hours. I was blessed enough to work for three days instead of six and make just as much money- easier. I really loved the brewery I worked at. No stress of managing and more time for study. This was the easiest semester I had.
Once I received my certifications for EMT, I naturally wanted a job in that field. I got a job at our small community hospital ER- thanks to a friend putting in a good word for me there. As a new EMT I felt that I would lose my skills and knowledge if I didn’t put it to use. This meant learning and training. Twelve hour shifts are brutal sometimes.
Just as a new semester started, I found myself working much more than the part-time I was hired for. I worked nights, swing, and day shifts often all in one week. Things were getting harder. I found myself changing into scrubs in gas station bathrooms after class so I could head straight to work. My father-in-law became very ill. He was our main sitter.
By the end of this semester, he passed away.
This was so very hard on all of us. All of us. The whole family grieved at the passing of this incredible guy. We all spent every moment we could with him. Me, least of all. I learned that college doesn’t care what’s going on in your life. Due dates are due dates. Work doesn’t pay without you showing up.
I had some very special days with him. I am thankful for that.
A new semester dawned and I hadn’t even had a melt down. I suppose I saved it all up for the end. I battled my mind so much during this semester. I was completely sick of studying by now. Every spare moment felt taken. There were no spare moments.
When I was home, I was locked up in me room studying. Forever studying. I am proud to have accomplished so much in such a short time. That’s what it takes. Become a hermit with a book and you can do it too.
When friends want to have you over for dinner…you can’t. When the kids want you to play outside with them the day before a test- you can’t. The husband wants to date you, the house needs a mom scrub, the laundry is a huge mountain of neglect, the dogs need to be taken to the groomers, the kids are overdue on yearly checks, every birthday you’re invited to is on a Saturday.
Everyday Saturday for a year I have been at fire school. Eight hours every Saturday of drills, tests, didactic, skills, sun, wind, overexertion, skills.
We missed so much. The kids missed so much. We have had no weekend getaways or camping trips. Since my school schedule was so crazy, work filled my Sundays and Fridays and every moment I let them.
Nothing worth having is easy. Is it?
I’m so proud of my family for supporting me. For giving up fun and friends and time away. I feel like we all graduated. We all got done with school. We all made it through this season.
There were times I wanted to just quit. I wanted to curl up in bed and knit or read a book just for fun. I couldn’t. The prize was too great. I didn’t knit a stitch or read a line. I buckled down and got my work done. My strength came from Jesus.
Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV)
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
This has been my life verse.
I know that Jesus has strengthens us all. My children have seen first-hand how much studying and sacrifice it takes to reach a big goal. My hope is that all this yucky mom-guilt was a lesson to them.
This has been quite a year.
This has been a sacrificial year.