This woman is smiling because her house is clean and she had nothing to do with it.
Becoming a grad student after working for 16 years in a completely different field as well as having two babies and raising them up was, in two words, an adjustment. For the first time in a long long time, I began to focus on myself. That sounds like a good thing—a relief—to someone who isn’t a mom and, in a lot of ways, it was. But the guilt is never far behind when a mom gives a few brain cells over to things other than house and home.
But, after wrestling with all the child-related what if’s and getting over the fear that I would be the oldest person in the room—including the professor—I began to have an amazing time as a student again. And the guilt began to fade away as I saw my husband (always a great father but a man with a full time job) take the reins with all the little tasks that make up a day in a family with children. The kids began to look to him for help with things when in the past, no matter what I was doing (making dinner, taking a shower!), they would ask me even if he was sitting there, doing nothing. He began to know their schedule probably better than I ever did, helping them with homework, signing permission forms, etc., while I could devote myself to reading for class and working on papers.
He even CLEANED THE HOUSE.
So, nearing the end of a three-year grad program, I’m now not only more educated and (hopefully!) a better candidate for a better job, I’m also a woman in a better marriage. I never imagined that would be one of the perks of going back to school. And while I still have some guilt that I don’t remember when my son’s history paper is due (or, honestly, what his History teacher’s name is), my kids have learned two things from their mom putting them second for the first time ever: education, at any age, is important (and do-able!) and a good marriage truly is a partnership.