Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wearing Many Hats

At different times in life we "wear different hats".  We don't change who we are, but circumstances around us change and we have to juggle different things in different ways.  I have the tendency to want to wear one hat at a time and wear it really well.  Just ask Justin, I can definitely have a very all or nothing mentality - both a blessing and a curse in my opinion. 

My personal favorite is my "mama hat".  My kids are crazy and wild and I love them that way.  They are fun, energetic, crazy little balls of awesomeness.  I would prefer to never take this hat off. 

When I made the decision to go back to school, I just assumed that it would be like my undergraduate years.  I'd put on that "student hat", plug away at some math problems, and presto I'd have all A's.  Oh, how I make myself laugh sometimes!  Someone must have slipped a little something in my coffee the morning I woke up thinking like that.  In our house, family is the number one priority, no doubt about it.  It makes me chuckle right now that I even thought I could take on a full TA position, full time graduate school, and still hold strong to all the wholesome ways in which we want our sweet little family to grow.  It's just not possible (for me - some people can do it, but I can't) to wear the full-time "student hat" while still wearing my "mama hat" in the same way I have been for the last few months.  This past fall we really found a way of life that works - truly, truly WORKS - for our family.  And sorry, I'm just not willing to change my mama ways.

So, this week I broke down.  I finally admitted that I couldn't do it.  I also admitted that I was failing a class.  As in I was gonna get a big, fat F.  I went to the graduate program director and my professor and said "I can't do this.  I don't have adequate prerequisite knowledge for this class (analysis) and I don't want to keep digging myself deeper into this hole I'm in."  And you know what?  They understood.  They COMPLETELY understood my priority to my husband and children and my drive to want to do well in my classes (not just complete them, but excel in them - which at the rate I was going, I wasn't really doing either).  A weight was lifted.  Literally.  I truly feel lighter now.

So, I have a W on my grad school transcript.  I withdrew from my Analysis class.  This summer I will sit-in on an undergraduate level analysis class in the hopes of learning all the pieces that I missed the first time (somehow I pulled off a B in Advanced Calc at CNU, but left it learning next to nothing).  Then in the fall I will take the first semester of graduate level analysis - and most likely that will be the only class I take.  Then, finally, in the spring I will repeat the class I just withdrew from.  I'm going to take my time and give each semester all I've got.  I struggle so much with pure mathematics.  I'm a VERY applied mathematician. I'm hoping if I focus on this one area I can overcome my deficit.

When I first decided to go to grad school I thought I wanted to suck it up and get it over with as quickly as possible.  But I've come to realize that putting on that student "hat" and plugging away just doesn't work right now.  So, I stepped back, re-evaluated everything, and realized that taking three to four years to finish isn't the end of the world.  It actually works with our family's priorities and way of life right now.  And you know what, I'll still get there in the end!  Besides I have no intentions of going back to work until after the kids are in school - which means I've got at least four years anyways (or maybe more, we might do a little homeschooling in the early years).

I'll still finish out my TA duties this semester and the other two classes I'm enrolled in (and enjoying).  Then I will take on analysis with all I've got!  I'm so happy to have an additional 10-12 hours per week freed up (yes, I spent that much time studying for a class that I was still failing) and dedicated back to wearing that "mama hat" that I love so much.