In Nursing School, B is for Balance

A Prudent Student

I’m finally done my first clinical semester of nursing school. Anyone who knew me during high school or college knows that I am high strung when it comes to doing well in school. Even when I was working on my prerequisite classes at night while I was still working a full time job, I strived to do the best I could. Long hours, missed social outings and school-related anxiety were just a small price to pay for a 4.0. My son may have sat on my lap watching cartoons during several long study sessions, but I always managed to pull the rabbit out of my hat when it came to final grades.

That is until I started my clinical classes.

nursing school

A For Effort?

Don’t get me wrong, I gave it my best shot. Well, sort of. I studied often, listened to recorded lectures whenever I was in my car and made flashcards. I did well. But I fell short of a 4.0. On my final exam in pharmacology, I missed three too many questions. I marred my nursing school transcript with a B, and secretly, I am 100% OK with that.

Sure, I was disappointed at first. Losing out on a final letter grade by three test questions is a real punch to the gut. But I wouldn’t change a thing about how I spent my time this semester. Every minute is a choice when you’re a student with a child. Do I want to go outside with my toddler and draw our numbers and letters with chalk, or do I want to review my notes? Do I let Dad handle bedtime today, even if he’s screaming for Mommy, or should I answer practice problems? All of these choices are weighted with guilt – the guilt of being a non-present parent or an inattentive student. The guilt of spending my family’s hard-earned money on tuition and not doing my absolute best, or the guilt of squandering even a minute of the magical chaos that is toddlerhood. As a mother, I’ll never get these days back. As a student, I’ll never be able to change those grades on my transcripts.

Bs Get Degrees!

So I walked the line. Getting a B means that my son and I ran through the sprinklers together on hot days after school. We went to the park more than a few times. We cooked dinner together (even if he didn’t want to eat it), and we played with the choo choo trains on his train table. And after I put him to bed, I studied my butt off. I read and reviewed and quizzed myself. The ultimate result of all of these choices was a B, and it was the best choice for both me and my family.

Please, don’t think that this is a sideways attempt at a humble brag. This is a shout out to any mom who has been forced to make a choice regarding what’s best for her family and what’s best for her future when the two options are seemingly at odds with one another. I see you. Give yourself permission to strike a balance, and take a breath, Mama. You are doing the best you can.

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