Nursing School and Motherhood: Balancing Motherhood and Ambition

Updated: May 25, 2020


Laura So how's motherhood? What are the highlights and what are the difficulties?

Brittney There is a lot in both categories.

Laura Let's start with the difficulties and finish with the highlights.

Brittney I think like right now, it's different for each kid. Like James is four and just his personality. He is very strong-willed in wanting to do things his way, which almost every kid is like that. The challenge with him is his first inclination for everything is to be angry. So we're just having a lot of conversations about the tone of voice and the words that you use. How facial expressions read. Some expressions are mean others are kind, and we want to be kind to each other.

Brittney And for me to not respond in anger back. When I am frustrated it just throws fuel in the flame. I totally catch myself reverting to being angry instead of being patient with my thoughts

Laura Motherhood I think does that to you. It just things that you think that you're good at. And when you become a mother, you're like, I had no idea I needed to work on this area of myself.

Brittney Yeah, totally. He is a very rough and tough boy, he needs to wrestle and he needs to just like be really rough. And I don't like that. I have a hard time with that. When I need to get on his level and play with him I have to prepare to get beat up. It's a part of wrestling with him. With Iris, she turned two in January and she's very girly. She's very into doing things herself. And so she is, I would say, like 95% potty trained. She kind wanted to do it. I think with her, it's like I have to let her learn things the hard way sometimes. She has to fail on her own to learn how. It's hard because I don't want her to fail. For a two-year-old, it's OK to let her fail.

Brittney Yeah, she is so different in her emotions. When she gets mad about something, she'll just hit me. James has never been like that. She's very physical like that. And all I have to do is just look at her and give her like a face. And I'll just say, like, do not hit mommy. And she just cries. Where James is not like that at all. But it's like you have to learn how to cool it first. You need to be kind and loving because you want them to be a kind of living person. But I think those are some of the hard things for me. Also, unmet expectations.

Laura What would you say your expectations were? You had one. And what were your expectations for the second one?

Brittney I mean, James was a hard baby. And we didn't know that we did with hard until we had Iris and we were like, whoa, she's so easy. The first year of life was really easy. She slept through the night at three weeks old. We were like, what? The baby phase has been pretty fine for both of them, especially James. And we figure it out he liked a little more of a routine for him. I think the toddler years have just been hard.

Brittney We all have seen the mom before who had kids, throwing a tantrum in a store. I remember thinking, oh, my gosh, I will never have a child like that. But she's doing her job. But now here I am and I do all the things and my daughter is screaming in Target. I've been extended so much grace and I want to example that to my children. Or they're never going to understand it because they've never lived it. I think it's hard for me because I get embarrassed. Like, What are these people thinking of me? I can't live in that mindset. I am a mom and these are my kids and I don't need to be embarrassed for them ever. We can have hard conversations in public. I need to bubble out the outside world out and not worry about it. I think a lot of moms have a hard time with that, you know.

Laura I mean, even with Luna her age now, like we'll go out to dinner and she'll start having a meltdown because either she's tired or she's sick of sitting in a little seat or whatever that may look like. And I totally can relate to my first inclination is just like all these poor people around me trying to have dinner. But yeah, it definitely is teaching me a lot about myself and being okay with people not being happy with her.

Laura So you're going to school. Why don't you walk me through that whole journey?

Brittney So I'll just like take you back to the beginning. I've always known I wanted to go into the medical field. The school that I went to had the hopes of starting a nursing program for the university and didn't work out. That happened while I was there, though. At that point, I was like halfway through my junior year and I was like, well, like, I've got all these credits to graduate from this school. Then Michael and I started dating. He was getting his master's degree. And we kind of figured, okay, when you finish your master's degree, then I'll go to nursing school. That way we were only paying for schooling at a time. We got pregnant after getting married, like three months into the marriage. It was just kind of a thing that was like, well, like it's not a good time because I needed to work when he was finishing school so there was that. So I was pregnant with Iris when I started going back to school to take a couple of extra prereqs for the nursing program here in our town I was able to apply to the nursing program and I got in right away.

Brittney I started January 2019 and I would say the first semester was just really difficult because it was this whole new experience for our family. I was still nursing. Luckily my in-laws live here in town, in my especially my mother-in-law, she agreed to watch the kids whenever. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to go because we don't want to pay for daycare. It just wouldn't have been feasible. She'd watch the kids and I think just like figuring out how to how to do school while being a mom and a wife was really hard. Then not being involved in the things that we were involved in before.

Brittney Friends have suffered. I used to take James to the park multiple times a week just to walk. I'd walk him in a stroller and he nap in there. Even with Iris, we would do that. Now life just looks different. Like we don't do a lot of playdates and I'm a really social person so that is hard. I want to be able to hang out and go do things. But that's just really not the priority right now.

Even silly things like I function really well in my house when it's clean and things are put away obviously when my kids are playing and I'm fine if there's a giant mess everywhere. But I pick up after and then I go to bed at night like I don't want messes around the house. It brings me like mental peace. Those things are important to me and they have suffered.

Michael and I have always I think just naturally we just like did what needed to be done. And Michael had really stepped up and is doing more of the things I was doing. I did most of the cooking before and now he does a lot of the cooking. We're kind of in a unique semester right now so things have kind of been a little more fun right now. We've been able to go do more things, but when school starts back up again I'll begin clinical two days a week, 13 hours a day each and I have lecture a whole half and half of the day.

Brittney In order to reach this goal that we want to get to. I do have to say no to some of these things. And there are times where I can spend ten minutes with them. And we set timers. Like, you got ten minutes then it's over. We're definitely looking forward to when it won't have to be like that.

Brittney It's like not it's not an effort done on my own, by all means. I'm the one putting in the study hours, but it's almost like when you go to big production. You see everything. You're like, wow, it was so amazing. And then you find out about all the things that were going on behind the scenes that makes it even more amazing. All the love and support and all the love and support I'm getting from my family. I'll call my mom crying and she is supportive on the phone as much as she can be. My in-laws and my sister-in-law will babysit the kids when my mother, for whatever reason, isn't able to or even my father-in-law will if none of them can. It's like we all have to work together.

Laura What's one lesson that you have learned that you wish you had learned sooner?

Brittney That my initial response in all things to my kids is calm and gracious.

Laura How. How do you enact that? Are there certain steps that you have mentally that you kind of go through? Or is it just like an awareness?

Brittney Maybe both. I think. Absolutely. Like awareness. But I think about how quick I am to respond too. Just last week, Iris got into nail polish. And, you know, it's all over, and my first responses is, "Iris, what were you thinking?" Instead of like, "Oh no, we got to clean this up now."

Brittney Being really gracious in my response. In order for my kids to understand the graciousness of God, I have to exhibit that to them so they know what that looks like. My first response is more accusatory and that's not what I want him to remember at all. So there are times when I am able to respond graciously, but it just needs to happen more. Your response needs to be calm and not be surprised by anything. In a perfect world, we would all respond perfectly. We want to raise kids that are loving and I want my kids to be kind and not look at their friends when they go to school and be like, what are you thinking? So I have to exhibit that to them. Even how I respond to my husband needs to be like that, too.

Laura You mentioned that your dynamic in your marriage has changed? How did you guys get to that point? Was that were there a lot of conversations that it kind of happened organically? What did that look like?

Brittney Probably a little bit of both. We had conversations before I started and they were kind of like, we will do whatever it takes and, you know, we'll figure it out along the way. And then when the time came, where there were some hard conversations. Like, I feel like I need to be with the kids right now, but I really need to be studying. So I think a lot of his frustration had kind of stemmed from, hey, I feel like I'm giving you time to study right now, but you're not taking it.

Brittney I was like, OK. I didn't know you were giving me that time. So we just need to communicate better. Yeah. And we've worked on that. And now that I'm in an easier class, we're going to totally have to work on it again. Also, Iris takes a short little nap now so I can't really study at home anymore. So I have to leave. He's usually at home with them all day while I'm at school and then I study after that. Also, we need to go away more together as a couple. So we've been setting aside money in our budget each month so that we can do that because I love to go away but he really enjoys that because I'm not a mom I'm just his wife. Even with like overnighters somewhere. Just like twenty hours.

Laura Do you have any other nuggets of advice or just things that you've learned that you want to share?

Brittney I feel like if you have a dream that or a big goal like whether that be a goal for your family, a dream for you personally, talk to your partner about it. I just don't think you want to get to the end of your life and think I could have made a difference in, you know, whatever. I think you have to go hard after it.

Also, remember, you are not, "Just a mom." Cause there's so much more that goes behind. I mean, they're everything. You know, you're a nurse, you're a teacher. You're at least a tutor. If you raise your kid saying I'm just a mom. They're gonna grow up saying, well, she was just the mom. You are so much more than that.

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