She packs up the piles of school supplies dividing them into each backpack. The wide ruled paper empty and waiting for ideas. The crayons smelling like childhood. The pencils sharpened and ready to serve, to write answers and ideas. Tomorrow the filled backpacks will go on backs, an unfamiliar weight in September that will soon become all too familiar by October. She will attempt to take photos on the front porch but they won’t give their best smiles because they are nervous or excited or annoyed. And then she will send them off, onto school buses, through classroom doors, into new worlds with awaiting dreams.
They are back to school, and she is ready for it. After a long summer of whims and adventures, the whole family is in need of routine. The anticipation of a few more hours of quiet in her day is enticing. A new rhythm is in her future and for this she is excited.
But there is something else there, in her heart. Is it sadness? No, that’s not it. Sure, she might miss the airiness of a morning with nowhere to be once school is back in session. And while they drive her nuts, the house might feel a little lonely without their voices echoing.
But it doesn’t quite feel like sadness. There is a different feeling there. A longing is more like it. A desire. Perhaps a small recognition of jealousy. For while her little ones go off to learn and explore their potential, she is left to carry on with her days in the ordinary way in which she is accustomed. Maybe she is going back to work. Maybe there are more children in the home, not quite big enough for the wide world of school. The start of school naturally brings a different pace of life from the three months prior, no matter how she might spend her days, but it still looks a lot like more of the same. The sense of newness that her children are experiencing today is not waiting for her when she gets back to her home. No shiny new books waiting to be read. No empty notebooks waiting to be filled. No new friends or teachers to travel along this journey growing up together. Just responsibility, per usual.
As they walk down the sidewalk away from her home towards the bus stop, she finds herself staring at her children wishing to be in their place.
But what if it doesn’t have to be that way?
What if she could go back to school too?
She can, of course, and I might argue she should.
Moms returning to continue their education is not new. Sometimes it takes a few tries to decide what you want to be when you grow up. And what better way to instill a lesson of lifelong learning for your children than modeling this yourself. But “going back to school” doesn’t have to just mean opening the catalog for the local college.
Maybe she dreams of a side hustle. Maybe there is a creative passion itching in her finger tips. Maybe she has stories to tell, words to share. Maybe she has goals written in a pretty notebook back in January that have been forgotten. Or maybe she wants more time to read a good book. There are more ways than just the traditional path to pursue a life of education.
So with her last wave and blown kiss following the school bus down the street, the mom decides it’s time to do something about this little dream nagging at her heart. It’s time to lean into this curiosity, to learn a little something new about herself. It’s time to “go back to school.”
Do you see yourself in this mom? I believe motherhood naturally sparks a creative drive to be more, explore our potential, to grow and change right along with the little ones we are helping to grow too. With every new child I have brought into this world, I recognize this desire. And I have chased it in a variety of ways, through creative projects, dabbling in the world of writing, and lately pondering a new degree or career path. Whatever the desire on your heart, I believe it is important to chase it, even in the simplest ways.
Are you ready to go back to school too? Let’s do this together!
But first, just like any child going back to school, you need a supplies list. This list, however, isn’t something you can just pick up at Target. I mean, let’s be honest, you might want to still make a trip to Target. Pretty pens and notebooks are an addiction for me. I can’t help myself from throwing these into the cart when I’m picking up the supplies for the kids. But these, while fun, are not necessary for pursing your dreams. In fact, I often use them as a procrastinating tool from the things needed to turn an idea into action. Go ahead, get those pretty pens. But then be sure to pick up the Essential Supplies List I believe every mom needs to get herself ready for that first day of “school.”
- Commitment – Before gathering anything from this list, you must first collect commitment. You will need a lot of help from people in your life to cheer you on, support you, guide you. But you can’t do any of that if you don’t believe in it yourself. You must make an honest promise to yourself that this dream is worth your commitment. YOU are worth it. Putting your own dreams first is going to benefit everyone in your family. You are likely going to be struggling with some guilt. A promise of commitment must be the first thing you gather to combat these feelings.
- Time – This one may be little more challenging to find. Like I said, you can’t buy time at Target. (Can you imagine, though?! I spend enough of my money at that place as it is!) Time is what you search for after commitment. The commitment to pursue an education, follow a creative dream, or even adding a new routine for exercise or reading or writing will take time away from your current schedule. It’s important to take a look at all the various pockets of your day. Maybe you can wake up earlier. Maybe there is time during a lunch hour or nap time or other small space of time that otherwise went to mindless activities that don’t leave you feeling fulfilled (I’m looking at you social media app!). When we have promised commitment, searching for time must come next to keep the momentum of this dream.
- Support – Likely the greatest source of help in the area of seeking time is from others in your life. You can find this help through a partner or other family member nearby, maybe a neighbor or friend, or even a paid caregiver. Even if you are able to fit in the time in the in between spaces of your day without help from others to watch your children, it’s important to tell your family about your goals. Support can be found in accountability or a cheering squad, too. You will be better if you aren’t doing this alone.
- A “desk” – I have found having a little space of my own when pursing a dream makes me take the commitment more seriously. Does this need to be an actual desk? Not at all. Maybe it’s a little reading chair. Or perhaps you can even turn your night stand into an important spot just for you that isn’t piles of used tissues, half-filled water glasses, and the baby monitor that hasn’t been turned on for months. The goal of this item on the list is to remind yourself to physically take up space in your home for you. Are you a motivational quote kind of person? This is the perfect spot for it. Maybe you love a pretty calendar. Or what about that seasonal candle you picked up at Target (when you were trying to see if “Time” was in stock.) Lighting that candle during your “school” hours is a great way of cueing your mind that “class is in session.” And be sure to tell your family to leave their business off of your desk. Unless it’s that super cute drawing your daughter made for you that reads “We’re proud of you mom.” That one stays!
- Syllabus – Every new class you take comes with a syllabus, or an outline of the subjects in a course of study. This outline is helpful for both the students to know what is expected of them, but also for the teacher to make sure all the essential parts of that class are covered. So what does this syllabus look like for you? It’s probably more like a list of goals. But to make that goal list work best for you, it’s better to make more specific action items under each goal so you know what you are working towards. Smaller steps towards a bigger goal is what makes it feel manageable.
So are you in? Are you coming to school too? Tell me, what dreams are you studying when you go back to school?