Undergrad Moms: A Rare Species?

01Feb09

As you may have read, I am a 27 year old single mother of two children, a 7 year old son and a 4 year old daughter.  I am also an undergraduate student in the pharmaceutical sciences.  It’s kind of akward sometimes being an older undergrad, especially with kids.  When I tell people I’m in school they usually follow with the question: “Are you a grad or a PhD student?”.  I’ll admit it’s a little blow to the ego when I say undergrad and I proceed by telling them my story.  There aren’t too many people that can relate to the sort of challenges you face or even really understand that type of situation.  I have to give it up to moms in general (and dads, too, don’t get me wrong….) but especially student moms.  Unfortunately, for us undergrad mothers, we don’t get much recognition.  We aren’t at the level where many people respect us for our work or look up to us.  In addition to that, if we have jobs, they normally don’t pay much because our skill set is relatively low for our respective industry.  I don’t dwell on this fact because, afterall, I chose to have children before committing to my studies.  Then again, I also thought my marriage would last well into my career!  In any case, this is the sacrifice I make now for the choices I’ve made in the past. Perhaps taking 16 credit hours, working part-time, doing extracurriculur activities, and raising children all at the same time isn’t the ideal situation.  I have to say, though, that I certainly appreciate my education a whole lot more now as a mother then I did before.

I truly am blessed to have great kids, though.  I drag the poor things around to all kinds of really boring and dull meetings (they take solace in the fact that they usually get cookies and soda at the end!) but they are extraordinarily well behaved and have not once embarrased me publicly at school.  There have even been a couple instances that I have to take them to class with me.  I mean… what else do you do when you absolutely have to go to class and your child is complaining of a stomach ache?  You can’t send him off to school because they’ll just call you right back to come pick them up and you’ll end up missing class anyway.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a very good support system where I live.  I moved away from the town where my mother lives because I got a full scholarship in a great program and I must say I’m very happy I did, but when it comes time to find someone to watch the kids, it usually doesn’t work out.  I don’t know too many people around here very well and I certainly can’t afford to pay a babysitter.  Not too mention the countless times that I have to remind the kids that, “Mommy’s studying…”.

So anyway, I don’t want you all to think I’m whining or I want pity… I’m just pointing out the fact that as undergrad moms we face unique challenges that many don’t understand.  I also want to give credit to other undergrad moms out there.  Much to my surprise, though, there are a few in my program and I really admire them.  They are all great students and very intelligent women.  About half of them are single mothers as well.  What many of us have in common is that we are community college transfers.  Is this a growing trend I wonder?  I hope so!  What this implicates is that women who in the past would have just reared their children and worked random, low-paying jobs are now getting the courage and making the sacrifice to educate themselves, a sacrifice that will certainly pay off for the whole family in the future.  I know that sometimes older students in general feel discouraged by their age but, fortunately, I think it’s a stigma that many are overcoming.

For all you undergrad moms out there: keep up the good work!  You’re not alone and most importantly, don’t get discouraged!

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2 Responses to “Undergrad Moms: A Rare Species?”

  1. I think university student-moms are a rarity, whatever degree. Most individuals take the “normal” route of school, job then married with kids. As a graduate student, I feel like a fish out of water b/c my hours are limited to 9-5 of daycare, i dont go partying at night with the others etc. It can make it hard to make connections. Good luck! and Yeah to great kids

    • 2 extrovertscientist

      ScientistMother, more power to you! I’m sure screaming kids makes writing a thesis even more stressful than it already is. I hear ya on the childcare hours, to… and yeah, sometimes I wish I could just go out with my classmates. Oh well, I love my kids and I’m sure you do, too. Good luck to you as well!


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