A little family support goes a long way

Our children have been back to school for two weeks now. My family is back to the early mornings, the daily routine and the busy evenings. This year is particularly busy because I started my first term in nursing school.

This has added some stress to the family, because Mommy has to leave home really early some mornings and study almost every night. The first week of school was beyond exhausting, between all the school paperwork parents need to sign and the overload of information I was getting in nursing school. I finished the week lacking sleep — a very usual thing for nursing students — and asking myself what I had gotten into.


Labor Day weekend was not so much about relaxing or going out as it was about studying — every single day. My heart ached every time I had to tell my children "I can't right now; I have to study," or "Not today, Mommy has a lot to study." That hated feeling of guilt assaulted me again. I know my children were fine and they were not complaining — in fact, they have been very understanding and supportive — yet I felt like I was not being a good mother, that I was somehow taking time with their mommy away from them.

I have been there for them every single moment of their lives. I have completely dedicated the last 11 years to them as a full-time stay-at-home mom, taking care of them 24/7, being available for their every need. But I felt like, because in this particular time of my life I am busier than before, I was not being fair to them; I was not being the good mother I had been before. The tempting urge to quit snuck up on me as I thought all this.

"Maybe now is not the right time; maybe I should postpone these plans again until my family doesn't need me as much," I thought.

It was an emotional struggle: One side of me did not want to say "no" to my family again; the other side of me did not want to say "no" to my dreams.

I almost cried as I tried to debate what to do — what would be the best for my family? I was going through such an intense internal debate that my children noticed. They asked what was wrong. When I told them I was considering if quitting was the best thing to do, they immediately said, "Mom, you can't quit now, you have worked so hard!" As I heard those words, two of my recent columns came to mind — one about how anything is possible when you don't give up and one about letting go of the guilt we feel as mothers. It's definitely easier said than done, but it needs to be done.

"Mom, you have worked so hard; you really want to do this and you are not the type that quits. You made a commitment to yourself when you decided to go after your dreams," my children continued to say. "We know you'll make a great nurse," they added.

I looked in their eyes and decided to switch my thought. I have to keep going, not only because this is something that I really want to do, but because my children will always remember how their mother raised above the situations around her and succeeded. They will always remember how their mother did not give up at the first sign of difficulty — how their mother worked hard to achieve what she wanted. I am pretty sure they will remember these things more than the couple of times I said, "Honey, I can't now; I have to study."

I guess even mothers need help holding up the fort sometimes. That was one of those days when I felt like I couldn't go on. It was a day that my children showed me how important a parent's example can be — a day when they showed me that it's easier to hold up the fort when we are supporting each other.