How do you describe parenting while in graduate school? Honestly, I have no idea. I have wanted to write something involving parenting during graduate school for some time now. I mean, it would be easy right? Since I am living it everyday. I was so wrong. How do I describe an experience where one day I feel as if I am superwoman and then the next I am just trying to survive the day. As I sat down and tried to reflect on my experience this past year - my first year of graduate school - 3 words continued to come up: priorities, sacrifices and motivation.
My first year of graduate school was nothing short of hectic. This past year I experienced pregnancy, giving birth in the middle of my spring semester, studying with three babies in the house and trying to teach my kids from home since the closure of daycare due to COVID, and finding out my son was on the autism spectrum. While maintaining classes, a job, involvement in a professional organization, I also had to balance the craziness of motherhood. Keeping up with my oldest son’s speech and occupational therapy sessions which were now virtual and entertaining my other 2 boys at the same time have basically become a sport. Prioritizing my time was a necessity and to-do lists and calendars became my best friend. I basically needed to have my entire month mapped out so that I was ready for anything. I could not afford to procrastinate the way I did while in undergraduate school. I had all of my assignments mapped out and prioritized when they needed to be done. This was especially needed around the time my third child was due. I contacted my professors to explain my situation and see if there were any assignments that I could do ahead of time. I was grateful that they were understanding and gave me the option to complete assignments ahead of time or to have an extended deadline. I knew how hard it would be to juggle 3 children and having assignments pile up. I decided to prioritize getting my assignments done, as much as I could, before my son was born.
Parenting in itself is about sacrifices. It is about doing what is best for your family even if you have to give up certain things. Adding school to that mix just proved that point. I made a lot of sacrifices this past year. Sometimes it pains me to think how I had to sacrifice time with my children. Most days I could wait until after my kids were asleep to complete assignments, but then there were those days where I was so overwhelmed and exhausted that I had to sneak in some assignments during the day. This meant taking time away from teaching them or just not giving them my undivided attention. I had to make sacrifices in other areas of my life, sometimes without choice. If it was not about my children or school, it was not important to me. As I looked at it, everything I did was for them.
My children are my biggest motivation. There were days where I was sure I was going to quit because why in the world would I decide to go to graduate school with 3 children in diapers? Nonetheless, I knew finishing school would be what was best for us as a family. Every paper I wrote, every long night, and every involvement I have applied for, I always had my children in mind. What makes going to graduate school as a parent so hard is also what makes it so easy. My children are my driving force.
As I look forward to my final semester, I will be met with new challenges. Now, I will have to tackle work, an internship, classes, and the impending job search. All of this while remaining at home with my children. Yet because of them, I know I can handle it. For all of you parents in graduate school or thinking about attending graduate school, remember priorities, sacrifice and motivation. My experiences as a parent in graduate school may be completely different from the next but I know for sure we have those 3 words in common. It is necessary to prioritize, it is important to understand upfront that sacrifices will need to be made, but most importantly remember what and who your motivation is. So let’s go into this semester with an open mind, strength or whatever it is that gets us to our favorite time of the day: bedtime!
Author: Delasia Rice is a graduate of the SUNY Brockport with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She is a member of NASPA and heavily involved in the New Professionals and Graduate Student KC and the Adult Learner and Students with Children KC. She is also a member of the National Career Development Association. Delasia is currently in the SUNY Brockport's Higher Education Administration online masters program where she is hoping to work in Career Services. She is hoping to use her degree and multitude of experience to eventually get her doctorate degree and focus on building connections between K-12 and Higher Education as well as working with college students with kids. Delasia is the mother of 3 boys and enjoys all things Harry Potter, Disney and Marvel.