My mother went back to college when I was thirteen and my brother was three. Evidentally it was therapeutic for my mom, but I think if she’d stayed home our family would have been better off. I believe it was more important than she thought to be there for us when we got home from school. Much of the childcare fell on me.
Mom graduated from college the year I graduated from high school. I lived at home and worked the first three semesters and then moved to UCLA. That left my brother with someone outside the family caring for him after school. By that time my mom was teaching and it was a difficult period for her. I believe my brother was lonely. My dad had to travel a lot for his job. Although my brother was industrious and started his own gardening business before he was old enough to drive, it wasn’t enough. By the time he was in high school, he started drinking. Later he started using angel dust. And that was just the beginning.
My brother spent a lot of time without his family around him as he was growing up. Mom got her degree and became a very good teacher. My brother was in his fifties before he got his life straightened out. He, his wife, and one of his sons had spent time in jail — time that helped them get the help they needed. The other son still feels insecure. I often wonder if things would have been different if Mom had stayed home until we all grew up.