Sometimes the best lesson you can teach is the value of discipline

When you really want to accomplish something, you must have discipline and be willing to make sacrifices.

As a 38-year-old mother of three who is back in school, I am living through those sacrifices and that discipline again.


My family recently made a road trip to New Jersey to meet with some family members and spend the day at a theme park.

I made the road trip with them because I wanted to be there in case they had a problem on the road or something were to happen, but instead of going to the theme park, I stayed behind in a hotel room.

I stayed behind to study, as I had a big test coming up right after the weekend. It was the first time I wasn't with my children at a theme park. They understood that Mommy had to study. They were going to have fun even without Mommy there and they were meeting with family, so I knew they were going to be just fine.

But for me, it was still the first time I was not there with them.

I understood that not being there with them was one of the sacrifices I had to make to achieve my goal. It was part of being disciplined — choosing to study instead of have fun. I was somewhat sad that day — I mean, honestly, who would rather be in a hotel surrounded by books instead of in a theme park? — but it was what I needed to do.

Although I was sad, I was also proud of myself because of the commitment I was showing to my goal.

On Halloween night, priorities decided to show up again. I had another big test coming up right after Halloween weekend — yes, we have that many exams — and so my children decided to spend their Halloween at Six Flags Fright Fest instead of trick-or-treating. I get it: They are not little children anymore — they are 17, 12 and 11 — and although they like candy, trick-or-treating might not be that appealing anymore.

But I had to study, so I stayed behind yet again. It was the first Halloween I was not spending with my kids — another first. I knew that they were going to be just fine — they were having fun on a "daddy-daughters day," as one of my girls said — but for me, it was the first Halloween I wasn't with my kids. Yes, I was a bit sad again, but I had to prioritize.

I became afraid that maybe I was sending my children the wrong message. Maybe they were thinking that I didn't care as much for them as I care about my studies and my goal of becoming a nurse.

But then, on a recent evening after a very long day of exam and classes, my oldest daughter came to me and said "Mom, I haven't even had time to do my hair, or go out with friends, because I have so much to study. Studying is my priority right now. I get it, Mom."

A minute later, my 12 year-old said, "Mom, I know you are tired after being in school all day and after your big test today, but I really need you to help me with my homework. I have to turn this in soon and it's worth 15 points. I have good grades and I want to keep them that way."

Right after, my youngest daughter walked up to me and asked, "Mom, how was your day? How did you do on your exam? I have a question, Mom: Do middle school grades count for your GPA?"

At that moment, I realized my children are not getting the wrong message. Quite the contrary: They look at me and they see commitment, priorities, and the importance of setting goals and working hard to achieve them. And so, they are making their own goals and setting their own priorities.

Suddenly, I don't feel so sad. Even though I have made some sacrifices and missed some things, I think I am setting a good example for my kids. They are learning to have the discipline to succeed.