Stay-at-home mom juggles school, homework and family

Sending her children to school on their first day was not nearly as tough for Debbie Wolfer as it was for her children to send her on her first day.

Wolfer, a junior, middle-school education major at Northern Kentucky University, decided two years ago after being a stay-at-home mom for 17 years that it was time to go back to school.

After receiving an associate’s degree in social work from the University of Cincinnati in 1979, Wolfer was married and began working downtown at Western-Southern Life Insurance. With the arrival of her first daughter, Megan, now 18, Wolfer decided that she wanted to stay home with her children. The family has since grown to include Dana, 15; Josh, 13; and Annie, 9.

When Annie began third grade, Wolfer enrolled at NKU hoping it would not take her time away from her children. There were many reasons why going back to school was tough for Wolfer.

“I had a chance to be the soccer mom and room mother,” she said. “And I was Girl Scout leader and volunteered for everything.” Wolfer said that this dedication to her children can be difficult to juggle with her schoolwork.

“It is getting harder now, but because they [the children] are so busy with their own lives, it is the perfect time for me to come back to school,” Wolfer said. By taking classes in the morning and afternoon, Wolfer is able to get home before the children.

Wolfer also wanted to be able to eventually contribute to the finances of the family since all four children are in private school. Her children are very supportive of their mom’s endeavor. “They used to write me letters. I still keep a letter from the first day of school in my book bag,” Wolfer said. “Now, sometimes if they beat me home, they make me a snack for when I get home. That was something I used to always do for them.”

So what does Wolfer think about school the second time around? She was very intimidated about coming back to college. “My priorities are different,” she said. “The way I look at homework and the workload is different.”

Wolfer feels that she can relate to her children when they are stressing over homework or a project because, “as a parent, you forget what it feels like to have homework.”

Wolfer feels that it is tough, but knows she can do it. “I have to read things twice to get it, but I think when you are older, you work harder,” she said.

At 43, Wolfer also had to adjust to having peers younger than herself. She felt left out at times when she would hear the students talking about their social lives. However, she feels it will get better when she takes classes with other education majors.

Wolfer never planned on becoming a teacher until after she had her children. “I liked helping out in the classrooms and volunteering to help with field trips,” she said. “I was constantly around kids for 18 years.” It was also important for Wolfer to be able to have summers off with her children.

Wolfer plans on teaching fourth or fifth grade social studies or English in the Forest Hills School District. Her advice about college to her children is to “always be nice to students my age.” Wolfer’s daughter Megan will begin studying law at the University of Dayton next fall.

Wolfer will graduate in spring 2004 and once again her children will be there to send her off to her first day of school-this time as a teacher.