When I first started up this page, I was on maternity leave from work and was studying for my degree. I had a lot of free time on my hands.
Well, as much free time as a student mum ever has.
3 years on and I have free time on my hands again.
I’m back at work of course.
But I graduated last year and now I have my BA (Hons) in Criminology.
Then we learned what Coronavirus was. I’m sure 20 years from now it will be in the history books.
I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones that had to spend 12 weeks in doors, unable to go outside at all. To start with it was an exercise in self restraint. No shops, no fresh air, not even a trip downstairs to retrieve the post.
At 10 weeks I thought I’d finally been granted freedom.
But it wasn’t quite as free as I thought.
Over the weekend I found out that I am in the group of ‘extremely vulnerable’ individuals that has to continue shielding until August 1st.
When the first 12 weeks were introduced in March, it seemed like a lifetime.
Now we are facing month 4 and it just doesn’t seem that strange anymore.
How much can change in 6 months.
Today’s post is a short one but…I FINISHED UNI!
I’ve drunk a life times worth of coffee, attended more hospital appointments than I can count, worked night shifts and generally not slept as much as I’d like to have done, but not only have I finished uni, I did it whilst raising my beautiful baby girl. I’ve balanced my princess on one knee with my laptop on the other, I’ve read uni books on breaks at work and handed in assignments minutes before deadlines but I’VE GOT MY DEGREE!
Hard work pays off!
How would you describe yourself?
A pretty common question in job interviews and dating (not that I’ve had to worry about that one).
I find the first thing that comes to mind when I have to answer that question is that I am a mother. A young mother. I’m 22 and have a 2 year old. I’ve had more than one random person make comments about this, especially as I don’t look my age, but that’s a whole other conversation.
But being a mother isn’t describing ME. I am a mum. But I’m also an adult. I like reading and cooking. I like tattoos and piercings – I have my fare share of each. I’d do a post on this but it would take me forever to write about and photograph all of them. I’ve got a degree. I’ve had some very interesting and challenging jobs. I’ve been vegetarian so long I can’t remember what bacon tastes like. I’ve kept guineapigs for nearly as long – currently we have a guinea pig called nibble. These are the real answers to ‘describe yourself’.
Being a mother doesn’t mean you cease being yourself.
(And for anyone who is wondering how the photo relates to the post – I am made up of 75% coffee)
I haven’t posted in a while…
It’s felt like I’ve continuously had a thousand things to do but I think as a Mum I will always have a never ending to do list so it’s a pretty poor excuse. A never ending supply of caffeine is needed and I don’t know how people who don’t like coffee survive.
I saw a post this morning on a Facebook page about a student who had to take his baby to class with him because of childcare problems and his professor helped him by wearing the baby in a chest carrier whilst he taught. I’m reasonably certain it was an American news story but the point remains – it was a lovely and very human gesture. It made me think about my own experience as a mother and a student.
I’m currently in third year at uni and I work part time whilst juggling running a household and raising my beautiful toddler – she’s nearly two where has the time gone? – and trying to remember my partner and I are adults (easier said that done when you know the theme songs to every CBeebies cartoon off by heart).
My first year personal tutor was really kind and compassionate, if a little clueless. I was pregnant from the start of first year and he apologised straight away for not knowing what to do because as a young male he had never himself experienced pregnancy or raised a baby and as a tutor had never before had a pregnant student.
But he tried his best. He arranged for me to have an unlimited number of 7 day extensions without requiring evidence and made sure I wouldn’t be chased about my attendance if I couldn’t manage to get to lectures. He filled in all the right risk assessments and offered to find a female member of staff with children when it came to questions like breast feeding and midwife appointments if it made me more comfortable. It didn’t bother me at all talking to him, but it was kind of him to offer (I think in all honesty he felt slightly out of his depth and was thinking a tutor who had had a baby would be more helpful). Amelia’s due date was around the time of my final assessments but she arrived well before that so I even managed to get all the work completed for the final dead lines. Much to my surprise I passed first year.
I went into second year with a baby the size of a newborn – she was 3 months old and around 8lbs when my new class schedule came through – and as I was breast feeding her it wasn’t easy leaving her for long periods of time. (Think loads of pumping to leave a supply of milk and continued pumping while away from her.) I was also recovering from a csection which anyone whose had one will know can take a long time. There is a reason the people who work in the costa near my house know my coffee order without asking.
Second year was not easy. They also changed my personal tutor in second year and I didn’t see this tutor once. In fact until I started third year I wasn’t even certain of my tutors name.
Add to the work/uni/baby balance that I have a rare medical condition and my whole third year experience is really not like most secondary school students would envision.
My dissertation is due in the next few months along with a list of other assignments and group presentations and honestly it’s more luck than design that I’ve managed to hand things in on time and turn up to the right lecture hall.
It’s all worth the effort though when you have this little face waiting for you when you come home.
The Reality of Work and a Degree with an 11 Month Old
It sounds like a real juggling act doesn’t it? Working, studying and ensuring this little human is fed and clothed at the same time? Well it sounds like it because it is.
If you look at my Instagram or my uni hand ins which are all neat and on time and the fact that I’m never late for work and always in clean uniform you’d think I’ve got it all well and truly organised. But the reality is more often than not I’m typing essays on my phone and eating a cereal bar for breakfast in the car.
If I’m having a particularly good day then by half past eight when rob gets home Amelia and I will both be dressed, have had breakfast and both our lunches will be made and in the fridge – mine to take to uni or work and hers to have while I’m gone so that her daddy knows exactly what to give her. If Amelia’s in a happy mood – which thankfully is 99% of the time – I might even have done the washing up and the laundry.
However if I’ve manage to do all that in the few short hours I’ve been awake then the chances are I haven’t turned my laptop on or even considered looking at a text book. The required reading list is all well and good until you have to work all weekend and can’t put your teething tot down to have a wee because she’s clingy and in pain.
And when my lecturer casually mentioned last week that we should all know what our dissertation question is going to be by now so that we can get started over the summer I nearly laughed out loud. The laughter gave way to concern when at least half of the other students raised their hands and began chatting out various ideas and research proposals. The concern was promptly forgotten as I walked back down the high street and remembered that Amelia had run out of her favourite snack – goodies date and banana bars – and there wasn’t enough soya left to make a cup of tea.
Don’t get me wrong I work hard on my essays and have every intention of passing uni. But for me it’s not a life style the way it is for so many students. I don’t live in a house with other students, I don’t go out clubbing – haven’t stepped foot in a club in nearly two years – and I have not spent one whole day in the library in the two years I’ve been doing my degree. The last time I read one of my text books was in my car outside our flat because Amelia had fallen asleep on the way home. Id love to sit in costa with my head phones in and type out my essays in peace but it just isn’t going to happen.
And I don’t see a problem with that. At the end of my course I’ll still have a degree, regardless of whether I completed my course work in a coffee shop or with Amelia sitting on my lap trying to grab the my phone whilst I try and type my essay up one handed on notes.
I’m getting everything done and I’d like to think that’s what really counts.
I’ve been a little absent on the blog recently. Christmas was extremely busy, Amelia has been waking more often through the night and this week and next week I have three essays due and an exam. I’ve been surrounded by text books and resources and still have a pile of 10 academic books that I haven’t even begun reading. Amelia, housework and coursework require more hands and brain cells than I have available.
Am I the only person who still has their Christmas decorations up?
Our flat isn’t as tidy as it should be, Amelia’s Christmas presents still don’t have proper homes and I’ve been drying the washing on the radiators as I haven’t had chance to put the clothes away that are on the airer. I still haven’t purchased an iron so our clothes are all a bit wrinkly and my steamer is still at my mums as I leant it to her for cooking Christmas dinner. I’m just not organised enough to have collected it yet. I go back to work in a few weeks and I’m back at uni too so free time is extremely limited.
But we are all fed and clean and Amelia is happy so everything else will get done when I have chance.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and new year.