This time last year, I was anxiously awaiting my acceptance letter for Midwives College of Utah. I was beyond excited, feeling that my admissions interview had gone fantastic and having received feedback on my essays that I wrote better than most graduates they worked with. Which is effing great. In a few weeks, I’d get that letter, and the planning of finances and exploring my course map would be getting under way.
A few minutes ago, I sent a letter to my guidance counselor, asking her what the steps are to withdraw from school.
I need to start out by saying that the last term and a half have been, despite all the struggles I’ve had, some of the most enlightening and educational months of my life. I have, as I tend to do, learned so much about what isn’t working for me. My classes have opened my mind–and several other minds–to concepts and processes of which I’d only previously had a vague understanding. The clarity in my perspective has increased sharply. And the practical, real life side of being in school while balancing the other roles I’ve taken on was an experience in and of itself.
I have a much deeper respect for single mothers, for any mother attempting to go to school (particularly with small children), and for mothers who have challenging children and more than one child. And for mothers in general.
I thought I had felt the deepest strains of motherhood in the early months of my daughter’s life. I thought, surely, by one year (her age when I started school in the fall), I’d experienced the extremes of parental sleepiness and multitasking with an empty cup. I’m here to tell you that I was fucking wrong. And the conclusion I think I always come to is: as soon as I think I have something figured out, it’s time to look at how I might not. Life seems to throw me that lesson over and over and over again.
I’ve also learned that my ADHD is a lot different as an adult and as a mother than it was as student in my younger days. I know a lot of this has to do with the different types of thinking and learning and knowledge that has to be utilized in the Adult World. Having to switch back and forth between academic thinking and practical thinking…having to use multiple types of thinking at once…being in Mom Mode while also attending a live lecture or researching for a paper, while also remembering that today the rent is due or tonight I need to take the garbage out and by the way we’re out of animal food for dinner…I will totally own that ADHD makes all of this much harder for me.
Even since the last time I was in classes (pre-mom), my ability to absorb multiple sources of information and stimulus simultaneously has declined. That’s a hard reality for me to accept. I’ve always prided myself in my ability to multitask while learning. And perhaps that hasn’t disappeared entirely or permanently. But right now, I know my brain feels like mush. I know that if you’re talking to me while I’m reading something else, I’m only getting bits and pieces of both, not the whole picture of either. I was kind of banking on that to do school while caring for my kid.
I ended up seeking medication, which came with its own set of consequences. My first attempt at medication triggered a major migraine streak. In 21 days, I had 4 days without any migraine impairment. The second medication we tried made me nauseous no matter what time of day I took it or how much or little food I had in my stomach. It also left me disoriented and sedated for 6-8 hours after taking it, so focus and attention were not exactly supported. In short, the side effects of the meds I tried impaired any support of attention and focus that might’ve been achieved by the meds. Super frustrating.
Struggling with my ADHD has been a major kick in the proverbial groin of my academic self-esteem. I will overcome these struggles. But not right now.
A huge piece that’s torn at me has been realizing that Beasty wants (and needs) more of my attention than I was giving her while trying (and failing) to get school work done. I see a huge difference in her behavior, in her mood, in her functioning on the days I focus on school versus the days I focus on the house and her. I can totally do home and kid at the same time. School and kid…it’s a much bigger challenge. At least at this age. And with us wanting to grow our family by one more kid before we’re done, I know I’ve got another round of young baby needing mom’s full attention.
As I considered what the next seven years of school were going to look like and what that was leading up to, I realized that I wasn’t going to truly have the ability to be fully present for my family the way they need during these next 5 to 7 years. And even once school was finished and my degree and certifications completed, I would be stepping into a career that, by its very nature, would pull me away from my family at any moment, any time of day.
You have to understand, the on-call, available-at-a-moment’s-notice nature of midwifery is a huge part of what makes midwifery care such a great model of care. It is invaluable to the clients who choose midwifery care, and it is essential to providing high quality and whole-person, whole-family care through the childbearing year. However, this has huge impacts on the midwife. It has huge implications for the midwife’s family.
I think that a huge part of being a good midwife is understanding what being a good parent and family member requires. I want to, one day, be a great midwife. I believe that, in order for me to one day be the midwife I want to be, I need to put the time in with my family now in its youth, in its critical development phase. I want to support women and families making the best choices for themselves and their families. I fully believe that means doing the same for me and mine.
I am not bidding farewell to my midwifery goals, but I am recognizing their time and place in my life. I am recognizing that, right now, my family needs me more than those goals. And I can better meet my family’s needs without killing myself to reach my career goals right this hot minute. I can better foster and enjoy these small moments with my young family when I can be present in the moment.
With all of that said, I’ve made the choice to put school on hold for the time being. I will take the next several years to fully contemplate my career goals and how those goals fit in with meeting my family’s needs as we grow and move into other phases. And I will, in the mean time, focus on growing as a person, as a mother, as a partner.
My goal is to be prepared to return to school–or to learning a career-worthy trade–when Beasty (or her younger sibling when we make that move) is ready to start school. We can go to school together. 🙂
Now I just need to let myself be okay with this. It’s the right choice. I feel like a fucking failure, but I, logically, understand it’s not as simple as that. Now. Acceptance of that. And letting go of the guilt.