Setting a Good Example for My Children

by Melanie Edwards on May 19, 2010 · 9 comments

in guest-posts, Motherhood

Woman Studying

Guest post: Cissa Fireheart blogs at Heart of Fire, and when she’s not there or Twittering, she is busy being a full-time student and mother. And going to Disney World, as many times as she can convince her husband to let her go.

Before moving back to the Sunshine State, I worked full-time while my husband served in the US Navy. I had dropped out of college to marry my husband and raise a family. Once my kids started school, I went back to work. It was a good job and I tried to advance, but was repeatedly denied a promotion because I didn’t have a little piece of paper that said I graduated.

It was frustrating because I knew I could do the job, considering I had filled in for the job on a few occasions when illness or emergencies struck.

It was a blow to my ego. And it angered me on several levels.

About a month before we moved back here, my husband generously transferred his Post 9/11 GI Bill to me, so that I could finish something I started 15 years ago. I tried to talk him out of it so he could better himself, but that was like talking to a brick wall. He wanted me to go and finish because he knew I wanted it so badly.

And so, as an adult, I returned to college.

The school I attend is a popular university with military and former military, and I attend a satellite campus in Orlando. I love it. I take one on-line and one on-campus class a week for 8 weeks, and because we have short terms, the classes are long and intense. Seems just about perfect.

And it is, when I am not busy being a full-time mother.

I wonder often if I am the only mother in the world who puts aside work so that I can better myself. There are times I deal with a large amount of guilt when I tell the kids I can’t give them attention because I am busy on a paper, reading, or homework. I know the goal is to get my degree so that I can get a better job and provide more for my family, but I wonder if I am not doing damage to my kids at times. I think many mothers who go back to school experience this, and suffer as much as I do, possibly worse.

I remember my own mother graduating from college when I was a kid. She wasn’t around much. One thing I want to do differently is to actually use my degree after graduation. My mother didn’t and I wonder why she wasted her time, ignoring my brother and I for those years (at least it seemed like it), if she wasn’t going to use the degree to justify the expense and time away from her children. Nothing changed after she graduated; we were still poor and she still worked a low-paying job. I can list, several times over, the things that her money could have been spent on. Food for us for school lunch is just one item on that list.

I don’t want my college completion making an impact on my children in a negative way. I try to counter my times of isolation for study with times spent at a theme park, walking 5K’s with them, or even at the community pool. My children need to know that the hard work I put in and that sacrificing some time with them is going to be worth it in the end. I don’t want them to resent me for my one selfish act, because I will better all of our lives when I’m done.

I believe I will be making Dean’s List after this term, and my goal is to maintain that throughout my college career. I want to inspire them to greatness now, before it’s too late, and they become the procrastinating sloth I was for many years. Part of doing this is proving to my family that you can do things for yourself, for the sake of your family, and still be there for them. I’m hell-bent on not letting them down. As their greatest teacher, I can only teach by example, so it has to be a good example. They will be better off for all the sacrifice on their parts. And that motivates me to do well far beyond anything else.

I want to be the “modern mami” who can do it all and have a thriving family. I just have to keep up the hard work. I hope to be an example to other mothers in the world who feel like they aren’t worth bettering themselves with education. I’m going to come out on the other side of this experience and show the women who have doubts that it can be done, and they will know it’s worth it in the end.

Is inspiration the word? Maybe. I prefer the term “setting a good example,” because sometimes, showing how it can be done is better than simple inspiration.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin May 19, 2010 at 7:49 am

For one, you know better now so you can BE better for your girls. I know how hard you work in school and for Misk and the kids – it is paying off now for you and will continue to pay off in the future.

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Maybelline May 19, 2010 at 7:49 am

I think guilt is something that comes with motherhood, you just want the best for your kid and some how you're not seeing the results. I think that in order to achive goals we all have to sacrifice something and just keep in mind that is not going to last forever, eventually you'll look back and feel acomplished and laugh because you were making a big deal out of it.

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Poppy May 19, 2010 at 9:53 am

Even with a piece of paper you are not guaranteed the promotions. :( When you get that piece of paper make sure to also bring your assertiveness and FACTS with you to the meetings with any boss, because a lot of places won't just hand over promotions or raises to (I'm gonna say it) women. It's a dirty truth.

Maybe you could have family meetings, or meetings with the kids on a periodic basis to ask them how things are going, if they think Mami ( :) ) is giving them the time they need, and how you can help them more if needed. Then they feel empowered to be a participant in YOUR success as well as theirs!

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modernmami June 17, 2010 at 3:46 pm

The family meetings idea is a great one. We never did that growing up, but I can see how it would be a great technique for ensuring everyone is on board and heard.

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Cissa Fireheart May 19, 2010 at 10:34 am

Maybelline – I agree on all your points, but I am “instant gratification Girl” and have unfortunately passed that to my kids. I am however, working on not being so bad about the guilt, but it does rear it's ugly head once in a while.

Robin – you know what? I love you to pieces! You are always encouraging of me and my family. you rock.

Poppy – I hear ya sister, and I know it's more than just a piece of paper. But that piece of paper does help to get the foot in the door of more opportunities than it does now. And I LOVE you idea of the family meetings. I'm totally gonna do that. Thanks!

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modernmami June 17, 2010 at 2:46 pm

The family meetings idea is a great one. We never did that growing up, but I can see how it would be a great technique for ensuring everyone is on board and heard.

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jess July 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm

I am juggling between being a stay home mom who homeschools or a full time student while my children attend public school. I have barely any support outside of my husband. I hope I can pull this off because my fear is less time with my children too. I’ve been a stay home mom for so long that this change is going be really different for them. Good job working so hard and thanks for the post. I was in desperate need of the encouragement.

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modernmami August 14, 2012 at 9:04 am

Good luck with everything Jess. I am sure all will work out best for your family. Congrats either way!

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