Thursday, 7 August 2014

Studying with a young family

Yesterday I met my new course leader.

This autumn I will be starting a Masters degree in Creative Writing at the university in our town, and yesterday was my first in-person meeting to discuss how things work. Here is what the campus looks like:

I was scared!

But the course leader was lovely and she reassured me that I could do this.

I was still scared!

She told me that most of the students on this MA have a full time job, or a young family, or both. The MA has been designed with this in mind, and it is totally do-able as part of an already busy life, about to get busier.

Did this reassure me?

A little, but I was still scared.

I have discussed with her which modules I will take in which year, and once I organised these into my diary I realised that I would be attending lectures every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon. This is before any studying, revision, or writing that needs to be done. A little shock went through my body as I realised that our lovely days of delicious laziness, of no commitments outside of park and playdates, are coming to an end. I always knew that would happen as part of Ana starting school next year. I knew things would change, our week would change, we would step into a new and unchartered territory. But I didn't realise - or somehow I forgot - that it would actually be my own school, not Ana's, that brings that change into our family much sooner!

A lot of emotions are competing for space in my head at the moment. Excitement about studying - after all, I enjoyed being a student more than almost anything else I had done in life, apart from having children and of course the glorious days (hm, decades) of clubbing. Fear about the commitment - can I really do this while looking after two small children and a home, and maintaining my existing commitments with the two writing groups/theatres I belong to? And finally sadness - my babies are not in school yet so I could still enjoy them 24/7, theoretically, but it's me that's making this choice, this shift which will mean less time with them even before their own lives take a new turn.

But I will make sure that time becomes even more precious to us. They will sacrifice a little bit of me that they have at the moment, but they will also gain by having a mother who is happy, who is excited, who is fulfilled with her own life as a whole and not just the motherhood dimension of it. Hopefully that justifies my choice (a bit).

I will chart my progress on here, bit by bit. The highs, the lows, the guilt (especially the guilt, it seems!)

To anyone reading this, I'd like to ask this question: how do you cope with such challenges in your own life, when you have to find a balance between your children and something else you would like to do just for yourself? Do you feel guilty? How do you organise yourself so that you have enough time for everything?

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