3 Struggles Of Motherhood While In Grad School
As I dive into my second to last quarter of grad school, I reminisce, in awe, that I’ve completed 2 years of school with a small child at home. Fall, winter, spring and summer quarters. When I began my professional MBA program in 2016, Bella was just a year and a half.
The professional MBA program at UofR’s Simon Business School, is a part-time MBA program for working professionals. Part time students are constantly playing a balancing game - career, adulting, personal relationships, and for many students, also family. I think the balancing game for mothers is one of the hardest. Just saying.
I can only provide my perspective, based on my experience raising a toddler while in school. There are plenty of varying perspectives on this situation, which vary based on the age of the child(ren), number of kids, family structure, and etc. However, I’m sure some of the struggles are similar, although some may be more magnified depending on those aforementioned factors.
Toddlers need constant attention and direction. I had to get up from writing this twice so far, one time to go help my toddler clean up after using the bathroom, and a second time to make her a peanut butter toast sandwich. Sidenote: I’m tired of cutting the crust off of expensive bread. After she finished her sandwich, she wanted to cuddle, and I had to assure her that I’m almost done. It is nice to be loved, however it makes it difficult to complete tasks in one sitting. Lol. I better type fast before I am summoned to do something else.
My journey has been filled with many triumphs, accompanied with several struggles. So here’s what I’m currently dealing with:
I never quite realize the actual magnitude of all I'm doing, until someone says something to me like “omg, I can’t imagine working, going to school and having a kid.”
That’s when I’m like “oh yeah, that’s why I’m so damn tired.”
I’ve had a few people reach out to me, asking when I was going to get back to blogging. It's been a little over 2 months since my last post. I had been writing consistently, sticking to a schedule, and putting out content every week. Summer hit and things changed. I crashed and burned. My first blog post was about having a full plate, and these days, I feel like I have several plates in front of me.
My life is “go, go, go!” One time my husband told me I was superwoman. I smiled at the “compliment,” but it only made me feel more overwhelmed. When people deem you a superwoman, the admiration puts pressure on you to continue overextending yourself.
Earning a graduate degree is a huge time commitment and involves a great deal of self instruction. I am both physically and mentally exhausted. I spend 2 nights a week in 3 hour lectures, and meet with my groups to work on projects on the weekends. Weekdays when I don’t have class, I immerse myself into my maternal role, preparing dinner, oiling Bella’s scalp, giving bubble baths, and taking her to dance class. After her bedtime story, you guessed it, homework time! It’s a lot. I’ve had days when I’ve went home on my lunch break just to sneak a nap. I’m always tired. It’s only by the grace of God, and a supportive husband that I somehow stay afloat.
I do sleep, but good sleep is a scarcity.
Hence the reason, you haven’t seen me in a while. It’s okay to admit you missed me lol.
What helps me to keep going is that this is only a period of my life, and I will be finished with my program in March of 2019. I can now see the end of a seemingly unending tunnel. The light at the end of the tunnel is sleep! I will sleep in April. I will sleep in April.
2) Opportunity Costs
An important term that I learned in Business School is “Opportunity Cost.” It has stuck with me since my first quarter, and the term pops up all of the time in my current studies.
Simply put, an opportunity cost is what you must forgo in order to achieve something else. It comes down to your greatest sacrifice.
The opportunity cost of going to school in the evenings is the value of the time I spend with loved ones. That value is immeasurable.
I’d like to believe that sacrificing a couple of nights a week for a couple of years in order to open doors for myself, and enhance and support my child’s future is the potential gain. We will have to see what the return on my investment is.
Being away from my daughter a lot during the week with work and school made me more aware of spending intentional time with her. It’s too easy to lounge around the house and not pay attention to the people there: Bella on her tablet, my husband watching World News, and me liking pics on Instagram.
I consciously make an effort to make the most of our time while we’re together - let Bella help me make dinner, bake together, bike to the park, go for a walk, or just read a book. Being away from home has taught me that a family can be in a house together and still be separated. I think I am very bonded with daughter because of this awareness.
There are many times I come home from school, and Bella is already asleep. This is why mundane activities, like our morning routines -brushing our teeth together, and putting syrup on her pancakes- are special to me. Limited time makes me cherish the small things.
Funny the lessons sacrifice teaches us.
3) Time Management
I’m kind of insane. I want to do it all. Like really, too much. I’m constantly juggling competing priorities.
I want to have a large family. I want to succeed in my career. I want to continue my education and earn professional certifications. I want to workout regularly. I want to decorate my house. I want to write. I want to spend time with my family. I want to eat (mostly) healthy. I want to practice my piano. I want to travel. I want to read. I want to have a nice garden. I want to network. I want time to myself. I want to cook nice dinners for my family AND eat at the dinner table. I want to increase my blog traffic. Oh, and I want to look good while doing all those things. Tuh!
Time is so precious, because there’s never enough of it.
I’ve tried agendas, and different scheduling apps. I’ve read the articles on time management. They would be more helpful if the day actually goes as planned. Something almost always pops up, and whatever pops up takes forever. It’s to the point I get slightly agitated when I get phone calls. Just like that, 30 minutes gone. A spontaneous trip to the grocery store can throw the entire day off. Exams next week? There’s goes an entire weekend. I think I’m saving time doing a teleconference with my teammates from school, but those phone calls easily can surpass an hour.
This is where things get muddy for me. I struggle with prioritization and time management. How do you prioritize when everything is important?
Cliché sayings like “do your best” have become so meaningful to me in my adult life, because that’s really all I can do. I mostly have a routine, and my life is always “family first.” What follows is usually a toss up of what’s urgent, most important, and just how I feel that day.
Again, I’m doing my best.