Mature Student

I was inspired to write this post for the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month’s topic is The More Things Change … and it really resonated with me. Big things are ahead for me, but you’ll have to read on to find out what!

university school teacher student crafting my life

In late November I did something that I haven’t done in approximately 14 years – I registered for university classes. It was surprisingly easy. As a past student I was able to fill out a one-page form and re-activate my admission. When I attended the first time around I had to wake up at 5:00am to register by telephone, but this time around I registered at 2:30pm over the web. Even parking is easier. In the 90s there was a highly-competitive parking lottery, and people went years without securing a spot. That has all changed, and now I just have to show up at the office and pay.

In spite of the relative ease, I am still struggling. This is a big step for me, and it represents a new direction in my life. It’s yet another change of course, and I’m filled with trepidation about what it holds.

When I first attended university I chose engineering school because it felt solid and practical and potentially lucrative. I was good at math and science, and I felt I should capitalize on that. The truth is that while there were many things I enjoyed about engineering, and a whole lot of fantastic people I met along the way, it was never something that fed my soul in a meaningful way. I worked with people who were so energized by solving complex technical problems. Over lunch, they would debate the best way to build a dog trailer for a bicycle, or whether or not a Star Trek-style teleporter was scientifically possible. They loved it. I liked it well enough.

If you’ve been following my blog this isn’t news to you. You’ll know that I finished engineering school and worked as a programmer for 10 years. You’ll also know that during my second maternity leave my position was downsized, and I seized the opportunity to create a different sort of life for myself. This time around, I decided, I would be a writer.

As a writer I held a few freelance jobs, and enjoyed myself. I worked on this blog, attended conferences, and became active on social media. It’s work that has energized me in ways that engineering didn’t. Eventually I became the editor at, an online magazine for moms. I’ve learned a lot, interviewed amazing and inspiring people, discovered my love for podcasting, visited places I never would have seen otherwise, and connected with my community in new ways. When I was talking to my husband this summer about what I wanted to do next, I told him that I was really loving where I was right now. It was true. I was pretty freaking happy.

Two things happened this fall that shifted my perspective. The first thing is that my son Jacob started full-day kindergarten. While this didn’t really net me oceans of free time, it did change my outlook. I am no longer the parent of preschool-aged children. My kids are moving out into the world on their own, and the reality is making me re-examine where I am in my life, and where I want to go next.

The second thing that happened seems much more innocuous at first blush: I was invited to an open house put on by a group that encourages young girls to explore math and science. They wrote about the importance of exposing our daughters to STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math), and I agreed. While a career in engineering wasn’t right for me, ultimately, the truth is that I don’t regret pursuing it for a minute. It opened a lot of doors for me, taught me a lot, and provided me with skills and ideas that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I started considering how I could share my love for math and science with my own kids, and with other kids. As I did, a long-buried dream surfaced from the depths of my psyche.

I could teach math and science. I could be a teacher.

I did some reading online, and one day in late October I headed up to the university campus for an information session at the Faculty of Education. Being on campus felt familiar in many ways. After all, I did spend six years of my life there. When I graduated, originally, I was happy to be done, and had no urge to return. That day, however, I felt energized to be sitting in a classroom. I left the information session with a better picture of what I would have to do if I pursued this route, and a determination to take the next steps.

Before I actually go any further, I need to take some more classes. I don’t have all of the necessary prerequisites to pursue my teaching degree, so I’m taking three classes in January, and continuing my other work. I want to take my time with this, and make sure this is actually what I want to do.

I don’t know what it will be like to balance school and parenting. I don’t know if I would actually be a good teaching candidate. I don’t know how long this will take, or what it will feel like to sit in class beside people half my age. All I know right now is that my first career dream as a child was teaching. I also know that I have volunteered with kids, even before I had kids of my own, because I love hanging out with them. Right now, I want to follow through on it, and see where it takes me.

Going back to school feels like a big change in direction, but it also feels like coming home. I guess that the more things change, the more they really do stay the same.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Mature StudentAmber Strocel is embarking on a new adventure in 2014, by returning to a space in her life she thought she’d left behind – that of being a university student.
  • And then there were four — Jillian at Mommyhood learned how quickly love can grow when welcoming a second child to the family.
  • Handling Change As A Mother (And Why That Takes Things To A Different Level) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she helps her young daughter navigate change and why it is so important, as a mother, to gauge her own reactions to change.
  • Without Dad-One Year Later — Erica at ChildOrganics shares how her life has changed one year after losing her husband suddenly.
  • Family Ties — Lori at TEACH through Love realized that her most significant, most painful wound paved the way for her to share her greatest gift.
  • Rootless — After Dionna @ Code Name: Mama‘s parents packed up their home and moved to Florida this fall, she is feeling rootless and restless.
  • A Letter to My Mama Self in the Swirl of Change — Sheila Pai of A Living Family shares a letter she wrote to herself to capture and remember the incredible changes from the year, and invites you to do the same and share!
  • Junctionssustainablemum explains how her family has dealt with a complete change of direction this year.
  • Planning, Parenting, and Perfection — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook explains how most of the plans she made for her adult life have worked out differently than she planned, but she’s ended up getting a lot of what she really wanted.
  • Why First Grade Means Growing Up… for Both Me and My Daughter — Donna at Eco-Mothering discovers that her daughter’s transition into first grade is harder as a parent.
  • First Year of Mothering — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot reflects on the quiet change that took her by surprise this year.
  • Building the Community YOu Desire — A recent move has Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children working toward setting up a new support network.
  • Slowing down in 2013 — A car fire and a surprise diagnosis of Down syndrome made 2013 a very different year than the one Crunchy Con Mommy and family were expecting!
  • The Seven Year Cycle — After 7 intense years of baking, birthing and breastfeeding 6 kids, Zoie at TouchstoneZ wonders, “Will I be enough for what comes next?”
  • Rebirth — Kellie of Our Mindful Life has found that each of her births leaves her a different person.
  • When a Hobby Becomes a Business — This year, new doors opened for That Mama Gretchen‘s hobby of writing and blogging – it has turned into a side business. She’s sharing a bit about her journey and some helpful tips in case you’re interested in following the same path.
  • 5 Tips for Embracing a Big Change in Your Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about a big change in her family and shares tips that have always helped her family embrace changes.
  • Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes — Ana at Panda & Ananaso ruminates on how having a child changed her priorities.
  • Homeostasis — Lauren at Hobo Mama is finding that even as elements shift in her life β€” in cosleeping, homeschooling, breastfeeding, & more β€” they mostly remain very familiar.
  • Sally go round the sun — A new baby brings joy and unexpected sadness for Douglas at Friendly Encounters, as she is diagnosed with a rare genetic condition.
  • Embrace it — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen muses about the changes in her family this year and how she can embrace them . . . as best she can anyway.
  • Big Change; Seamless but Big — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how one of the biggest changes of her life was also a seamless transition.
  • Celebrating Change — Change feeds Jaye Anne at Wide Awake, Half Asleep‘s soul. And all the work that seemed like monotonous nothingness finally pays off in a clear way.
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  1. Woo hoo!!! Fantastic! Best of luck to you!
    Rachael’s last post … In a Time of DarknessMy Profile

  2. How wonderful that you’re able to go back and try something new. I occasionally come across another field and feel it would be a good fit for me. Maybe somewhere down the road I’ll go back and study something else too!
    Jillian @’s last post … And then there were fourMy Profile

  3. Amber, Congratulations! I’ve been scouting grad schools forever. You’re my inspiration. Good luck with everything! Lori @
    Lori@ TEACH through Love’s last post … Dec 6, Work With MeMy Profile

  4. Good for you for going back to school! That is a big change, but I think teaching is one of the most admirable professions. Best of luck!

  5. Whoa! Seems so obvious in retrospect! Congrats! So exciting!
    harriet Fancott’s last post … Moment 14: Black Spider-Man strikes againMy Profile

  6. YES! Sounds like we’re in the same headspace! Good luck with your prereqs – you’ll have a ton of fun cracking the books! And as a mature student, you’ll be amazed at your skill to prioritize, delegate and get ‘er done. My hubby quit his job at EA to get his PDP and has now been teaching math, science and art to Gr 7 girls at YHS for nearly 8 years. LOVES IT. He’s going to go back and get his MEd, but has to wait until I’m done mine!!!

    At SFU or UBC? Maybe if you’re at UBC in Sept 2014, we can go for coffee! Well, that’s if my plan works out anyways πŸ˜‰

    • I love that we’re in the same place on this. So cool!

      I am going to SFU. I got my Engineering degree there, so re-activating my admission was super easy. It’s also much closer to home for me. Too bad we can’t be classmates!

  7. I think you’d be an excellent teacher candidate. You’re well rounded and that’s very important when working with young people. What level are you think of teaching?

    I also find it comforting that inspiration struck you when your youngest began full-day school. I want to pursue a career, so it helps to know I have a few more years to think about it.

    Keep us posted!
    Rebecca B.’s last post … Popular Christmas PinsMy Profile

    • I’m thinking of teaching middle school – grades 6/7. I’m going to start by doing some volunteering and seeing how well it fits for me, but it would give me a chance to focus more on math and science.

      And yes, it’s funny how it all hit when my youngest was in school. I think I finally had the mental space to consider what I really wanted not just today or tomorrow, but long-term. I will definitely keep you posted on how it all works out!

  8. Wow! It sounds like a great move for you, and I bet you will be an excellent teacher.

    I felt really burned out when I finished my bachelor’s degree, 18 years ago this month. I thought that feeling would fade after a few years and I’d consider grad school. But so far, I haven’t wanted to be in school again or felt any particular reason why I would need an additional degree. I did take a class at one point, using tuition benefits from my job, and really didn’t enjoy it much. I guess if the time is ever right for me to get more education, I’ll know!
    ‘Becca’s last post … Planning, Parenting, and PerfectionMy Profile

    • I’m actually curious to see if and when my current enthusiasm fades. At this point I feel like I’m not at the stage of my life where I’m going to do something just to do it, so I’m viewing this first semester as a sort of trial. If it goes well, then I guess that will be my confirmation that this really is the time for me.

  9. This sounds so exciting, Amber! I *love* school. I could really be a career student, and for a long time, I thought I would end up as a teacher myself. I’m not sure what I will end up doing someday – law does not fulfill me like it does some people, so I understand how you feel about engineering. I wish you lots of happiness as you begin school again!
    Dionna @ Code Name: Mama’s last post … RootlessMy Profile

  10. New adventures await! I love your fearless attitude. Go get ’em mama!!

  11. That is the coolest thing I have read today! Fantastic!!! And I totally remember “telereg” of the early/mid-90s. So cutting edge back then!!

  12. this is great! the most important teaching to your kids right now, is that one can reinvent their lives, and take new exciting directions at any point – though, of course, teaching them and other kids math is also crucial πŸ™‚

  13. Wow, congrats Amber! It sounds like a pretty amazing combo of skills, interests and intuition led you to this moment. I’m looking forward to hearing how it goes for you! Best of luck as you begin.
    Dana’s last post … Trifecta of CelebrationsMy Profile

  14. This is so exciting! I’ll be happy to hear how returning to school and starting a new career path goes for you. I’m also intrigued to hear about the differences in technology from when I went to college β€”Β sounds a lot easier now!
    Lauren @ Hobo Mama’s last post … HomeostasisMy Profile

    • You know, the technology is better, there’s no doubt. But the bureaucracy is still the same. I had to change my name because I got married after I graduated. I was able to text a number to enter myself in the line-up at the admissions office, which was convenient. However, I still had to show up in person with my marriage license, and now I need to wait 24 hours for that change to take effect in their system so that I can get a student card. Then, when I have that student card I need to go show it to the computing office to set up a security question on my account. And so on, and so on.

      Like the carnival title says, the more things change, the more they stay the same. πŸ˜‰

  15. What an exciting time for you, I wish you well with your new journey and hope it takes you right where you want to be πŸ™‚
    sustainablemum’s last post … SurfacesMy Profile

  16. Congratulations on making the leap! I wish you all the best as you ponder a future as an educTor, which is silly, really, because you have been an educator for years, right?
    Christy’s last post … Boxing Day Quinoa SaladMy Profile

    • All parents do a lot of educating, that’s for sure. I’ve gained experience on that front whether I wanted to or not!

      And thank you so much for the well wishes. πŸ™‚

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  1. […] Mature Student — Amber Strocel is embarking on a new adventure in 2014, by returning to a space in her life she thought she’d left behind – that of being a university student. […]

  2. […] Mature Student β€” Amber Strocel is embarking on a new adventure in 2014, by returning to a space in her life she thought she’d left behind – that of being a university student. […]

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