schooling mom: sacrifices

by Ms. Joy

Monday is my long day at school. It follows after a day of frantically finishing those last nagging tidbits of homework  while the boy plays and bathes away the stink of being an active 4 year old. Last week, it was a bit of a bust on the parenting front. I wasn’t feeling my chipper self in the morning and Mr was kind enough to get up with the kids and get Miss N off to her bus, but this meant that I would not see her, not something I took into consideration when I gently shook him awake mere hours after tossing my cookies in the middle of the night thanks to my medication.  I caught the bus out to school at 2:00 and while she was home only 40 minutes later, I was sitting on the floor in front of my classroom eating an apple and scouring that last bit of reading. At 8 pm while I was heading out for a 5 minute break from my night class, she was going to bed. I would not be home for another 2 hours. I may have snuggled in next to her last night (in my bed, I might add) to peck at the computer and work on just one more assignment, but it’s not the same. I didn’t see her eyes or talk to her at all.

This is what happens to a lot of student and working mothers. We are doing our best to better the lives of our children but in the present there are numerous sacrifices. I’ve been in university since Miss N was 14 months old, intermittent breaks, both long and short have prolonged my time at the institution and the inspiration for continuing is currently sleeping. Again, in my bed (it really is comfortable). This doesn’t make it any easier, because kids have a hard time understanding that I need to sit with the computer on my lap on movie night and that I cannot always play with Lego, no matter how cool they are.

Today I had the opportunity to speak with a woman who has fought her entire life for her education. I think it’s pretty easy for a number of people to take their education for granted. I know I did, when I was naive and just presumed I would head off to university post-high school. I knew it was coming and for that reason I didn’t want to do it and I didn’t really value it. This is partially why I am still in university, seated next to 19 year olds who can devote an entire day to watching television or an entire day spent in the library, head bent over the books and surreptitiously sneaking glances at their Facebook wall.

When I am feeling positive I know that my kids see me working hard and that it is a really good example. It’s the same as when you are trying to encourage your children to read, they need to see you reading also. When I’m not so positive, when I feel bogged down by the weight of assignments and professors with stringent deadlines, I resent those hours spent away from my babies. The next time I feel this way, the unbearable weight of my textbooks and the financial burden of being a student I will remember that inspiring woman who has plugged along at her education for years, even when there was maybe only one person rooting for her. Because I have more than just one person behind me. I have a bunch.

Anytime someone sighs wistfully and says they wish they could go back I smile and genuinely tell them: Do it. Whatever it is you want to study will make you stronger, smarter and you will learn so much more than anything you may find in the numerous textbooks you will buy. School isn’t just about the hours spent in the classroom and that’s the real lesson.