The Voice

Balancing act: The student/single mom struggle is real

Ribekia S. Jenkins, Contributing Writer

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     It’s 2 a.m. on a Wednesday morning and we must be up by 7 a.m., but baby Denim wants her “cuppie” and she wants it now. The night before we didn’t go to sleep until around 10 o’clock. As I make my way to the kitchen, I am reminded that being a mom and a full-time student isn’t easy.

    Students are responsible for meeting deadlines for paper assignments and studying for quizzes. Being an English major means I have to write a lot of papers. Deadlines are sometimes missed because work is put on the back burner.

     The mental focus changes when you become a parent. For example, after my last class of the day, I go to pick her up from daycare. Somedays she wants to play and sing ABC’S. However, I have a paper due in a few days.

     Those few days quickly become hours because it is very hard to focus and study with a toddler who wants to play and get into everything under the cabinets. The only time I have to write papers and study is in between classes, but baby doesn’t understand. So now mommy must figure out how to prepare dinner, interact with baby, put her to bed and get work done.

     When you become a parent in college your priorities quickly change. School is no longer your first priority, being a parent is. You have to worry about so much more because things are not just about you anymore. It’s about what’s best for your child.

      Some days I don’t know how I’m going to get it done. I know I have no other choice but to make things happen. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to make things work for your child.

     This doesn’t explain the full struggle of what it means to be a single parent and student. The days seem long and short all together. Long because the work load just doesn’t seem to end, but short because it’s not enough time to get everything completed.

      Assignments are due, along with rent and a few of the daycare payments. Not to mention, Denim needs a nighttime nanny two days out of the week because mommy doesn’t get out of class until 9 p.m. So of course, I am left to figure out how daycare is going to get paid along with the nanny and the bills.

      Stress begins to wear mommy down and the focus is fading away as the days progress. I am just trying to figure out how to pass the semester with at least a C. At the beginning of the semester mommy was shooting for A’s. The load of stress on my back literally weighs more than the book bag I carry to class on a Monday through Friday schedule.

     Through it all, Denim is my motivation to be better. Her joyful smile brightens the most stressful days. Along with her sweet voice that says, “MaaMmm… MOMMY.” She gives me a tight hug every now and then as a sign of appreciation. Although things become tough I wouldn’t trade her for the world.

      I am praying for better days to come and humbled for what’s next. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a college mother and a first-generation college student. It’s a way to show Denim that tough times don’t last forever, if mommy can do it then so can you. I work hard with patience and gratitude as I patiently wait for my graduation.

Ribekia S. Jenkins is an English major and a contributing writer for The Voice.

 

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Balancing act: The student/single mom struggle is real