Reflections from a Working Mom: Learning is for Life

The start of September. I’ve been waiting for this time for what seems like months. Actually, it has been months – 6 of them to be exact.

My kids are enrolled in an international school in Shanghai, but the entire last semester was carried out online. I won’t go into that here – at the very least I should say there certainly were challenges and joys – but here I stand at the other end of that unusual season, nervous and a little bit sad to part with my kids, even if for only 8 hours a day! The world has changed since January 2020, and me with it, I feel a bit older, a bit more mellow in some ways, a bit more anxious in others, and a bit more tied in an unbreakable bond to my family.

A week ago, as we neared the end of school holidays, my husband and I took the kids out for a special lunch. I asked the kids two questions about their whole online learning experience.

1. What did you learn about yourself?

2. What was one challenge that you didn’t think you could overcome but you did?

It was nice to hear their responses – they learned that they could really handle technology, they learned to persevere even when it seemed too hard. But it got me thinking – isn’t that what we should all be doing in life – learning? Even as adults, we need to keep asking ourselves – what are we learning – what new skills, what new strengths, what character traits that we didn’t know we had – and growing and developing.

Because learning doesn’t stop when you pass your college exams.

The six months my kids were learning from home, I was doing learning of another kind. I was learning to wait. I was learning to put my own work on pause in order to give them the best of my daytime hours. It was difficult, it was interrupted thoughts, half-written emails, video calls at 7am, staying up past midnight to follow through with an idea. And now, on the day that my kids finally go back to school, although I’m sad that I will spend a lot less time listening to their laughter, I have to remind myself that the time for me to wait is over. That I am now allowed to get excited about going back to work, about the people I’m going to get to meet, and the other people I get to watch grow and develop — my clients. As my children begin a new season of learning, I’m looking forward to seeing some of you begin a new season – of developing yourself, of pushing past the pain of learning new things, and looking back six months, a year, 5 years from now – and seeing how much you’ve grown.

What about you? What have you learned about yourself in the last six months? What challenges have you overcome that you didn’t think you could?

Bec is the Program Director and Lead Trainer of English For Professionals at iConnect Corporate Solutions, Shanghai, and the mother of two very funny and entertaining children.

Bec Y