Finding the Balance: Motherhood and Schooling

This is going to be one of those posts where large amount of comments and feedback would be greatly appreciated. The biggest trial for me since Derek and I got married a long, long, long time ago (2 1/2 years), is trying to find the balance between two things that I really want. That is, having kids and an education. When we first decided to start trying for Jay, Derek and I agreed at the time that it would be best if I chose one or the other, and didn't try to do both. This was due to the fact that we both knew how easily stressed out I got, and I'm a crier (by cry I mean sob), when under pressure, so we thought it would be best for me to focus my efforts under one roof. 

So while pregnant I hurried and got certified in dental assisting and figured that would be a good fallback in case I ever had to work. Turns out, I'm the worst dental assistant, ever. Like guys, a lot of people are cut out for it, but I'm just not one of them. I passed the course and got an A and everything, but dealing with patients, and angry dentists who hated me was not my thing. (Mind you I was very pregnant, and very hormonal at the time, so that probably didn't help either.) 

So knowing that was a bust, after Jay was born I explained to Derek that going to school was still really important to me, and so we decided I would do my associates degree through BYU-I online and I would be done from there. Well low and behold, I finished my Associates last month, and then having a panic attack that I couldn't be done with school, hurried over a very stressful two days of phone calls, and working with various people in the admissions office, got BYU-I to let me get my associates and then continue on with my bachelors. 

When I first graduated high school I told myself that I would probably go to med school, "or something like that" (said in my naive 17 year old voice), because I figured surely I'd never get married or have children, so I should do something productive. I think the problem is that there is still a part of me that thinks I still need to do something a long the lines of PA school, dental hygiene (but probably not that since the whole assisting thing didn't go down as planned), or pharmacy school, or nursing school, chiropractic, physical therapy, grad school, PhD or just something. 

Once I finish my degree with BYUI (sometime in the next 4 years), as part of my degree, I'm already going to have all those prerequisite classes done, so I'd actually have the option to do any of those things if I really wanted. 

I guess the big question here is, at what point did you finally feel accomplished with yourself and not feel the need to keep moving on with your education. Does that since of relief and fulfillment come when you actually get your bachelors? At what point can you no longer do the balance of school and kids. Do you cut your loses after the second kid comes? I feel like I'm in a constant battle of trying to make sure I'm giving equal time to Jay and getting school work done at the same time. I secretly really envy those girls that just graduate high school and get married and have kids and never think twice about it. Or the girls that actually do dental assisting, or some other quickly learned vocational trade, and are happy and content with that. 

Is finding the balance between the two just a personal thing? Cause if so then I'm going to have to do some deep soul searching. Realistically I know I will probably have to at least stop after my bachelor's because getting into whatever small amount of schools that are in our area wherever Derek's career takes us is probably not going to happen, especially if we stay here in NC. (One bad semester at BYU has sealed my fate from ever getting into Duke, UNC, or Wake Forest) Ultimately I know that my self worth isn't determined on the amount of schooling that I complete, and that Derek's schooling/career is ultimately more important right now than mine is concerned, but I think I ultimately just need to figure out a way to just be content for now with doing my bachelor's and calling it good for now. 

And this post if officially way too long and almost pointless. If you've sat through this mental rant of possible nothingness thank you. You'll receive compensation in the mail in about 10-15 years for your time. 


  1. I wish I had answers, but wow did I appreciate you post! :) That doesn't help? Hmm, what else have I got? I think following your strong impressions about your life is the most important thing. These days we can all question how useful a bachelor's degree really is. It can lead to a more stable financial future, but not necessarily. We just can't know the future. But in the present, if you feel driven to continue with school (out of genuine desire, not guilt) and it feels good, it's making you happy, then it's for a reason and for the best! On the other hand, if you hate it and it completely stresses you out, I would continue considering your deep down motivation. P.S. You're such a good mom!

  2. Ok so I think every mom deals with this. We stay at home and feel like all we do is clean up the same mess over and over and over and over and then some. Your daily routine consists of the exact same thing with no paycheck and hardly any changes so it makes you feel like you're stuck. It makes you feel as a human being that you are kind of worthless. You know you're raising these cute little stinkers that you love more than you ever thought possible, and yet you kind of feel like they are keeping you from reaching your full potential. I feel the same way. It is a struggle. Seriously being a mom is the hardest thing ever. Most days I feel like I'm not cut out for it. I would give anything for adult interaction and that paycheck that makes me feel like I'm contributing even if just a little bit, and makes me feel like I'm actually doing something that makes a difference. But after moving to California I've realized seriously the most important thing I can do right now is be a stay at home mom. Even though it's really hard for me. I have prayed about it and know that this is my calling. I need to sacrifice my wants of more education right now while my kids need me the most. Now I plan on going back to school at some point. For sure once all my kids are in school and possibly before. I just need to get this whole 4 kids thing down first. But I am a stresser also. So I know if I started now I would end up taking out my frustrations on my kids. I want to go to school when I feel like I will be able to get better grades and focus on it. There will always be things. Having kids is not easy and their lives will get busier and it's going to be hard to find that time when I feel like I'm ready to go back. But even if I don't until my kids are all out on their own I'm ok with that. There is still so much to learn and read and do without it counting as "getting an education" and going towards an actual degree. But I know I never want to be the breadwinner. Austin is better at that and if something does happen to him and I have to be then I will have to change my plans. Probably move in with my parents to be able to accomplish that! ;) I want to learn things because I want to learn them not because a class tells me to. I want to volunteer and do things on my own time without having to do them. To me getting an education is wonderful and if you are planning on working then of course it's a must. But for me it came down to do I want to work and be a mom or be a mom? I look back on my childhood and a huge comfort to me was having my mom home and me having that knowledge that no matter where I was or what happened I could call her at home and she would be there to get me. I want that for my kids. Some people aren't able to do that with their specific situations and that's nothing they have control over. But I do have that option. Would Austin and I pay off school debt and all our other debt faster if I worked outside the home? Possibly. But by the time we paid a babysitter and got a second car and paid for the extra gas. Honestly. We would hardly make anything. And someone else raising my kids would kill me. So it is a sacrifice but I wouldn't change it. And hopefully my kids feel the same way. I will still continue to learn and grow. Maybe not by the standards of having a diploma in my hands. But that won't stop me. Sorry for my rant. I don't even know if it makes sense. But those are my feelings. I want an education too but I personally would be lacking in either my mothering or my schooling and I would hate to pick one over the other. This is my calling right now so I'm going to try to make the best of it and know my time will come!

  3. I love your post even though I'm not a mom! Deciding where to begin or stop with your education is so stressful! I think Chantell is right though that you don't have to get a formal education in something to be accomplished. I could've gotten my bachelors right after getting my associates 8 yrs ago...but I don't regret not doing it because I've been able to learn and grow so much in my career without having the stress if going to school. Mostly I don't regret it because working nights and going to school really would've killed me off. I keep hearing seriously EVERYWHERE the scripture that says to everything there is a season and a time to every purpose...this goes along with choosing between good, better, and best. Pray about it, ponder it, and then ask mom! Haha! Seriously knows everything. And if you want mom's advice just refer to Chantell's comments. :) I don't think it's bad to cont. with your education...just don't take on more than you can handle! Good luck!

  4. I think it's important to constantly continue receiving an education (in whatever way possible....whether it's for a degree or just by taking classes of interest here and there.) If you're feeling like you should go back, I definitely think you should. I have a BFA from East Carolina University and really enjoyed teaching high school until Charlie was about 1. Right now I'm content with being a mom, and teaching a few classes every week, but eventually, once Noel is out of law school, I am planning on going back for my Masters. There's a time for everything...(it's just the 'figuring out the right timing' part that's hard, right?!) :-)

  5. I think you need to be true to yourself and also be true to what your family needs. Make a goal and shoot for it but be flexible with what ever comes up. And don't just do something because you feel obligated, do it because you are passionate about it! I hold a strong belief that people are capable of accomplishing anything if they can sacrifice certain things. For me I really look forward to the day when all of my kids are in school and I can have a career on the side, I've looked at all the pros and cons and decided it is something that I want to have. So that is why I am going back to school. But I have made the commitment that if at any point Norah's needs, or Jordan's needs are pushed aside then I will need to back off. Because for my family Jordan's career and my children's happiness comes first. In our marriage Jordan and I have chosen roles, the traditional ones, and we plan on keeping it that way. So as long as I can give Jordan the support he needs, run a happy and organized household, and nurture my children then I will keep pursuing my goals. I guess what I'm trying to say is find your priorities and go from there. I hope this helps a little!

  6. After I finished my online classes for my undergrad degree (only three of them, and it just about killed me), I was happy to never do online school again.

    I got a master's degree before I had kids, and I can't imagine doing school with little children. I personally have zero desire to go back to school, so it's not really a question for me, but I have similar thoughts about balancing my work and my parenting. It's so tricky! Good luck with whatever you decide.

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