My freshman year of college I was 18 and felt like I had my whole future planned out and set in front of me. I was taking equine science and pursuing a career with horses, which I loved. One of the first classes I took was a very tight-knit, hands-on class on a farm. In this class, there were only about six or seven people so you were able to work and learn alongside each other as a team and got to know everyone well.
The oldest person in the class was a mom in her early 30s who was returning to school and following a passion that had been set on the back burner in her youth.
My naive immature 18-year-old self did not understand.
I looked at this woman with neglected baby weight and frumpy clothes and didn’t understand why she had set her schooling or career aside to have children, and why she was pursuing college again when she was so much older . . . what was the point?
The first day of class we each took a turn telling the group a bit about ourselves and why we were taking this specific class. The woman explained how she had dropped out years before because she got pregnant and the next 12 years revolved around her kids and being a stay-at-home mom. She had selflessly put aside her own dreams and aspirations, but now that her children were older she was returning to school to finish what she had started all those years ago.
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I remember seeing the light and spark in her eyes as she told her story and her excitement about being in the class, but at the time I didn’t understand how truly brave she was to be coming back to school and faced with freshman like myself who didn’t understand and who judged. Looking back I’m ashamed for my thoughts and criticism.
I now find myself in similar shoes.
Not yet 30 but only a few years away, I now have a toddler and am pregnant with my second child. Life is a journey with different roads to take, and due to my own life’s twists and turns and different roads, I did not finish college . . . but am now thinking about returning one day when the kids are a little older. It is a hope for the future I now carry with me, even though I now find myself faced with what she was ultimately faced with.
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I know it will be hard, I know I will probably be judged as well, but now I understand, and I’m so grateful that I do.
When you become a mom, almost everything gets pushed aside and your focus becomes their little precious lives, and nothing else matters.
You can lose yourself, along with your dreams and passions, but they are still there waiting and never gone forever.
I will be brave like my former classmate and all the other moms I’ve come to know who still pursue education and businesses and hobbies and set an amazing example to never give up and follow your dreams.