The hardest part of any prison sentence starts the day they open the gate and tell you that you’re free. In prison there is no responsibility. You are told when to eat, when to shower, and when to sleep. It is not until you are released that you must face society and undertake the burden of responsibility. But what if society […]
I love meeting other parents who are also in college because they understand wholeheartedly the day to day of being both a parent and a student. Having to wake up at 5:30 am daily to get you and your child ready for school; waking up at 6:00 am on weekends; picking up your child after school; having your kids ask you 8,648,874 questions while you are working on a paper and studying for a midterm or final; taking your child to the emergency room on the exact day that your project is due because, of course, these are the things that happen as a parent that you have absolutely no control over. Not to mention the other personal responsibilities we need to handle for ourselves.
It’s very difficult juggling school full-time, work, and being a parent. Everything requires an equal amount of attention, but it doesn’t always work out that way. If your child is sick when your paper or project is due, or on the day of your midterm or final, then it is hard to give school or a project your full attention. Even studying for exams, or writing simple articles or papers for class are difficult at times.
Every night I stay up studying and doing homework after I put my daughter to bed. SometimesIwakeupat2or3amtostudyforan exam when I was too tired to stay awake the night before. There are days where I absolutely DO NOT want to wake up that early, but know that I have to do it because it is the only time I have available.
Being away since 2007, I wasn’t even sure if I could return to college. So much self-doubt came over me. I am a 28-year-old mother who has decided to go back to college after eight years. Can I really go back? Would I know or even remember how to write a paper? Do algebra? When will I study or do homework? Spend time with my daughter? I was so nervous but I knew this was the right time.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would go back to college and accomplish as much as I have in such a short period of time: working as an Ambassador in Campus Life, being a part of the school newspaper, e Bridge, becoming Vice President of the club Oturo Osa, being a part of Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society and becoming the recipient of the 2016 CUNY Vice Chancellor’s Excellence in Leadership Award.
Although juggling all of these various responsibilities is extremely exhausting, complicated and challenging, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
I sat with a classmate of mine named Jennifer and discussed some of the biggest struggles she endures as a full-time student and a full-time mother to a 3-year-old. “Wow. Being both a mother and a student is exhausting!” Jennifer said. “Although my husband is around and he does help as much as he can, it’s very tiring. My child constantly wakes up in the middle of the night, no matter what time she goes to bed. Sometimes I’m up from 2 am because I can’t go back to sleep. Then I have to be out of the house by 7a.m. (with no sleep) to take my daughter to daycare so that I can make it here by 8:30 a.m. for class.”
Stephanie, a mother to 5-year-old twin girls, tells me about how hectic her life is everyday. “You know, I’ve learned how to manage after 5 years but man it’s a lot of work! I take courses at night so that I am able to spend the day getting things done around the house, doing homework and finally picking up my daughters from school.” Stephane continues, “they don’t even make it home because I need to leave them at grandma’s house just so I can attend classes. I always feel so guilty about it, but I know that’s what I need to do.”
I also met a man named Dante on the 7 train who really inspired me. I don’t meet many single fathers who are willing or like to share their experiences of fatherhood. “Let me tell you something Ms. Morel,” Dante starts. “The worst thing in the world is being a single parent and having NO help at all. I do the pick ups and drop offs daily from school, make breakfast and dinner everyday. I have to schedule all of my errands and classes around Leah. I wake up at 4 a.m. most days just so I can try to study. Then when Leah gets sick, I have to stay home from classes and take her to the doctor. I’m tired most days but I don’t have a choice as a father and her only parent.”
It’s definitely not an easy task breaking yourself into a million pieces to juggle school, work and parenthood… but it can be done. It’s all about DOING IT! You’ll be surprised at what you are capable of accomplishing if you get past all of the self doubt and just believe in yourself.