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What I Learned

photo by: JLM Creative Photography
photo: JLM Creative Photography

I GRADUATED! No joke, May 12, 2016, I graduated from UNR with a Master’s of Science in Nursing! Remember my first day? Here we are… I walked across the stage and was HOODED!

Of course, it’s more than just the hood, the surreal feeling of completion, and the insanity of moving into a new role. I spent my summer with my little boys, and studying for certification exams (I PASSED!). Now we’re at the cusp, less than one week until I go back to work full-time and flip my family’s norm completely upside-down. I’m a little apprehensive, but I know we can do it. Life is crazy, looking back I’m amazed at what we’ve accomplished.

When I started my Master’s I had a 3.75-year-old and a 4-month-old baby. Sitting here at this keyboard I can’t help but think how much my family has grown in the last 2 years.

I mean, there are 5 of us now… My oldest will be 6 and just started 1st grade, my newly ordained middle child is 2, and our newest arrival is almost SIX months old. Our family is barely recognizable. Homework became my constant companion, I know there were many games of ninja or Jedi I missed while working tirelessly to complete one of a million assignments. Still, it was worth it. My boys watched me work hard to achieve a goal. They learned with me as we found a little balance. A precarious balance, but still balance.

Recently I a friend posted about difficulty finding her balance with crazy nursing schedules and I mentioned going back to school. Besides the fact that I have always wanted to be a Nurse Practitioner, schedule was a big driver in my decision to return to school when I did. Another commenter replied that now was the time to focus on school and learning for the children, that our time for school had passed. This and its variations were a repeated refrain over the last 2 years. It has been said that I’m selfish, that I should be focusing on my family, and that I can’t possibly be a good mom while studying so much…

School is about learning, not only the subject material, but qualities that are important to carry through life. When my mom went to school I watched her work hard. This important lesson has shaped the way I live my life. My goals and dreams did not end when I became a mother and being true to those aspirations and continuing to learn every day IS what makes me a good mom. I believe we must follow our own paths and make choices to maximize our own happiness and wellbeing without allowing others to fence us in.

imgl2392What did I learn?

  1. Honesty: “Mom, you’re ALWAYS doing homework.” The boys never had trouble telling me when they were feeling like they needed more of my time. For which I am grateful. Allowing them to be completely honest was essential to them feeling heard and knowing that they were most important. Their honesty allowed me to discuss how they were feeling, and create a plan to give them the undivided attention they needed. Honest and open communication has always been key, it allows us to create plans and reasonable expectations as well as know when we’ve fallen short.
  2. Organization: “Mom, where are my SHOES?!” Keeping a hundred balls in the air at once is quite the feat, it felt absolutely overwhelming at times. With kid’s activities, daycare, preschool, family events, and millions of assignments it’s simple to get bogged down and turned around backward. The intense need to be organized spawned my adoration of google calendar and my journey back to using a personal planner. Having a place to write everything down, and a google calendar shared with my mom, husband, and sister allowed me to plan around everyone’s schedule and keep track of when things were due. I love my planner! (I just purchased one for 2017!)
  3. Perseverance: “Mommy, mom, mommy, mommy, mama, mom, mom, mom…” Children are as dedicated to their missions as any General. Whether it is a commitment to obtaining a treat or to a dreamed of trip to the park they will be steadfast in their pursuit of the desired outcome. Their persistence is admirable and wearing at times. This requires ingenuity, I learned that books can be read one-handed while making cookies with a 5-year-old and set aside for frequent “self-care” time pushing swings and climbing trees. I also learned to dedicate myself to finishing things efficiently in order to maximize our play time.

These three things are what got us through, and will continue to propel us forward. Achieving my goal with kiddos in tow was difficult, but invaluable. Happier parents equal happier kids. It is a simple truth. I did this to be happier and to be a better mom.

What have you done to make yourself happier lately?


About Jamie Schnell

Jamie Schnell
Jamie Schnell is an RN and full-time mommy to three boys. Her husband, Adam, keeps track of all the stuff that she can never remember where she had it last, and she loves his geeky-wonderfulness. He is definitely the best daddy. Jamie has a BA in English to accompany her BS in Nursing, and recently completed her Master's in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner track. Jamie loves reading, writing, crafting anything and everything, green beans, having little parties to celebrate life, coffee, camping, cooking, spa days, Cheetoes, naps, and just being outside.

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