Family – Returning to college while having a family is a challenge to say the least. When I returned to college four years ago, I had a teenage son and another son who had returned home after trying to make it on his own. We didn’t have an extra bedroom so he was sleeping on the couch. When I had registered for school only the teenager was living at home. Suddenly, the other was home in need of his parents support. While my boys were growing up I had a career that I had to give up because my children needed strong direction. They were hard headed kids who were determined to do things their way. So I was really looking forward to going back to school to discover who I was ans truly wanted to be.
The family issues have been the hardest part of my journey in school. The entire four years have been full of stress and yes good times too. Now instead of young children that I could set up in a playroom, now I was dealing with adults who were determined to express their independence. Sometimes at my expense. My oldest had moved back home but felt that he was an adult who could do his own thing without respecting the rules and boundaries of our home. I had to find a quiet place to study as the kitchen table was no longer sufficient unless it was 2 o’clock in the morning. I retreated to my bedroom, which I must say I did not like in the least. But… I was determined to make this work. My teenage son decided it was time for him to spread his wings and find his independence too, but not in productive healthy ways. (will discuss these in a minute).
My poor husband worked incredible hours as it was and now he had to try to take on more responsibilities at home. with two adult children in the house who were not being very respectful at the time created huge barriers. There was more to worry about, more laundry, more dishes, more cleaning to do. I was desperately trying to find a balance between it all but all I managed to do my first quarter was cry a lot and develop a lot of resentments. I had to work full-time, go to school full-time and then have to deal with a house full of adults who did not seem to want me to continue with school. My sons at first resented me adding more to my plate because they felt I should be there taking care of them. The first quarter was one of the most difficult. Trying to set boundaries was a real struggle for me. My relationship with my husband was waning and I felt we were becoming more friends than partners. We were both exhausted with trying to adjust to the added pressure of school.
My oldest son decided that since was of legal age he could go out drinking with his buds every night. Coming home drunk and acting a fool. My youngest son decided that he too could take up partying and staying out to all hours of the night. Here I was trying to acclimate myself to my new adventure and my two adult children were acting out! Every day was a challenge. I wanted to quit so many times. I just one day decided that these are grown men who know right from wrong. They had to live with their choices. I started becoming more selfish with my time. I designated time to study and did not allow them to interfere. I locked my bedroom door and did my school work. I went to work and classes and trained myself to learn to be selfish and live by my schedule. It took a couple of quarters to adjust to this but I had no choice. If I continued to allow my family to be so selfish as to not allow me to work on my dream, then I was going to fail. I had to take control of that.
It wasn’t easy at first since I am a caretaker by nature, but I made it work. This my dream and my future and I had to allow myself the right to enjoy that. I was met with a great deal of resistance but I resisted back. Eventually they got it to a certain point. every quarter was a struggle and I will write about them all. But I had to learn that in order for me to be happy too, I had to do what was important to me and school was just that. I had to learn to tune out certain things and a lot of times wear ear plugs just to concentrate. Again success requires sacrifice and hard work. I never felt prouder when I made Presidents List on my first two quarters because I knew how hard I struggled to get straight A’s. It gave me renewed belief in myself that I could do it in spite of the obstacles.
Understand that family is crucial, but it is ok to set boundaries. Keep in mind that if you are happy, you will be better parent and spouse. Cut yourself a break and allow your dream to become a reality. It’s ok to put yourself first. Your family will learn to adjust. It will be OK. 🙂
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