As I wrap up my first semester at Candler, I think about my Uncle Castel and how he became District Manager of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Castel was born and raised in Jamaica, and shortly after arriving in this country when he was 16 years old, he got a job at KFC to help with the family finances. He worked there for over 15 years. It got to the point where he started training the managers and supervisors above him. Because he only had a high school diploma, he would train them and they would be promoted. Nevertheless, he eventually worked his way up to district manager, where he was managing four KFCs in Nassau County, New York.

Then one day, he decided to give it all up. He had dreamed of having this position and once he did, he realized it was not what he wanted, so he quit. I can’t imagine how hard it must’ve been to make that decision. You see, in the years leading up to that decision, my uncle had gotten married and had two kids. He realized he would never be the husband or father he wanted to be if he continued working 60+ hours a week at KFC.

I am so proud of my uncle for working his way up the ladder. But I’m most proud of him because once he got to the place he thought he wanted to be, he acknowledged that he wanted more. He then adjusted his dreams. I think of how hard this must have been to do after over 15 years.

Like my uncle, I was working at a job that I loved, that helped me feel as if I was making a difference in the world, and allowed me time and energy to raise my children. However, unlike my uncle, my current path—my adjusted dream path—is as a graduate student at Emory University. For me, this new change has done the opposite of what it did for my uncle, who then had more time to be with his family.

I have always known that I am a triple minority—immigrant, black, and woman. I learned this semester that I have a fourth minority title: “mother of young children.” I am a mother of four children under the age of 12. I am stuck between being a seminarian and being a good mom. At 3 p.m. most days, my children are home and I must officially begin my day as Mom, which includes snacks, helping with homework, and prepping for dinner. Over the course of this semester, my children have been in the emergency room, failed classes, and missed events, all of which makes me feel inadequate as a mom. Some of my classmates may see me as antisocial because I am unable to participate in almost anything that happens after 4 p.m. I would love the opportunity to participate in many of these activities, but cannot afford a sitter or the energy it takes to choreograph the logistics.

I share this all to say that sometimes true inspiration does not come from watching someone climb the ladder, but from watching someone make decisions that are about more than money or self image. As I struggled through this semester, I was supported by people who did not understand the complete nature of my struggles, but were willing to help me in any way they could. My fellow seminarians may not understand my struggle as a mom in seminary, but they understand being supportive.

I look forward to being better at balancing time with my husband and children with my studies. Candler and pastoral care have already started me on the path of ensuring that this pastor-in-training takes care of herself and makes decisions that are best for her and her family.