Congratulations on your "Different"
I graduated from seminary this past weekend, Mother's Day weekend, along with my husband. When we started 5 years ago, our middle son was 6 weeks old. On graduation day, our third son turned 6 weeks old. We bookended our seminary education with babies. When I walked into our apartment after graduation with my regalia on, our 4 year old, Leo, looked up from his Duplos and said, "Mommy! You look different?? Congratulations on your different!!!"
It was different..... seminary for us was different from the experience of most of our classmates. We worked hard to balance marriage, family, jobs and studies. Our free time for socializing was limited, even before the pandemic. With two sons on the autism spectrum it was also hard to make friends, for them and for us. Going outside (where the oldest would just run away) always took careful consideration and planning. Going to a friend's house for a playdate was even more difficult as new situations and environments are a challenge.
My different was extra different since I was both a mom and student. I only met a handful other student moms while I was at seminary these past 5 years... and only 1 of them also had a husband who was studying, too. It sometimes made for a lonely experience. Thankfully, my professors were always gracious and understanding whenever a kid came down with a stomach bug and I knew I wouldn't get the assignment done on time, or the babysitter cancelled last minute and I had to miss class.
In a way, our middle son's exclamation was right on. I am different now from what I was 5 years ago. Because Charles and I did this crazy thing together with kids, we had to learn how to set boundaries around our time and relationships. We had to learn how to Sabbath and celebrate. We had to be ok with not doing anything extra, just whatever was enough.
It was different, and I learned a ton because of it.
I'm grateful for our experience, as hard as it was. I'm especially grateful for Leo's congratulations. I am different, buddy. And it feels good.