Opinion

College is complicated, especially with children

The two happiest days of my life were the ones that my children were born: Sept. 2, 2011 and March 14, 2014.

On Sept. 2, my first-born daughter was born, making me a new mother, scared out of her mind about being responsible (and having to take care of) this little, tiny baby girl. I had always wanted to be a mom, even though some people in my family felt that I lacked the patience and compassion needed to be a mother.

It took a long time for me to be comfortable with my daughter and there were some mistakes made – ones that I learned from immediately. But as some of you may already know, being a parent is about the trials and tribulations, and you must make some mistakes to learn what is the right thing to do.

I would also like to point out that I wasn’t trying to get pregnant with my daughter. It was a complete accident. I didn’t feel like we were ready, having only been together for about a year when I got pregnant, but we proceeded along because I had always wanted to have kids and I loved her dad very much.

When my daughter was only 18 months, I made the tough decision to go back to school and try to get an education. I wanted better for her. I didn’t want to work in the fast-food industry her whole life to provide for her.

It was hard on me, being a full-time student and a full-time mother. I didn’t have a lot of family support; they believe that I needed to do things on my own and learn how to be a mother as well as a student. My mother was especially hard on me for this.

I know she was proud of me for going back to school, but she always felt like I had my daughter too young. This was crazy to me because she had me when she was only 19 and I had her when I was 23. I also know that she understands how hard it was for me to go back because she did the same when I was only a year old. However, she didn’t have my dad to help her and lived with my grandmother so it wasn’t the same, I guess.

I completed my Office Administration certificate program at Niagara College and was well into my second year of completing the diploma portion when I found out that I was pregnant with my second child – a boy that I once again had not planned for. I did the best I could at finishing, but I fell short due to my inability to complete the co-op needed to graduate as I was too far along in my pregnancy.

On March 14, my whole world was turned upside down once again, the day that my second-born son entered my life. This was a happy, and extremely scary day for me, as I went from being responsible for one life to having to be responsible for two and that was the first day of many that I learned how to juggle the needs of both kids.

For almost two years of my son’s life, I stayed at home with him and raised him, along with his sister, putting my own needs aside to care for those of my children and doing what my family needed of me. Finally, I made the hard decision that I needed to go back to school once again and do something for me that would make me happy.

I had always loved to write so I decided to apply for the Journalism. I completed my first year and I’m working hard at getting through the second.

Being a mature student is not all it is cracked up to be. For those who think that having children is a piece of cake, they are dead wrong. I must juggle school and homework on top of making sure my children are fed, clothed, bathed and well-taken care of while still trying to find time to cook, wash dishes and do laundry. It is not an easy task at all. I juggle several different things at a time, and sometimes one of those tasks (balls) drops off the list to make room for something that needs to be more of a priority at that moment.

There are days when I don’t even want to get out of bed because the thought of everything that I need to do that day scares the hell out of me, and I sometimes wonder if I will ever be able to manage everything.

I do have meltdowns sometimes where I feel that I am a failure and that I must be a terrible mother and student who can’t manage to juggle everything at once. It makes me wonder if I’m even cut out for having a full-time job because I’m not sure how I will even manage that.

The thought of working a full-time job, something I have been working towards for a few years now, scares the crap out of me. Even though it is something that I desperately want, I don’t want to neglect my children in the process and I never want them to feel like I am putting my work (career) ahead of them and the things that they need from me.

I am determined to finish because I need to complete something for myself; I have spent over five years of my life putting my children, who I love very much, ahead of my own needs and I just want to complete this for me.

The toughest part about being a parent who is a student as well is knowing that even though I went back to school for me, I am doing it for my two young children because I want better for them and I’m afraid that the stress of it all is slowly killing me inside. I know I need to do it for them to give them a better life, but is it worth it to lose my own sanity in the process?

Author’s name withheld