[Lessons From A Student Mama] You Won’t Be In School Forever

textbook studying

Eleven years ago, I was approaching my junior in college and had just delivered a beautiful baby boy.

I was a new mom, a young mom at that. While trying to navigate this new world of parenthood, I was trying to figure out how I was going to get through school with a little one attached to my hip. I was really at a crossroad in my life because I was so passionate about my education but still hadn’t figured out how I was going to make it happen now that I was a mom.

My days were essentially filled with caring for my new baby and trying to figure out how I was going to get some sleep. Adding school on top of all that seemed crazy! My family had such high expectations for me because I graduated high school at 16 and I dived head first into my collegiate studies. I was a high strung smart kid who was studying biochemistry and naturally, I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed — at everything. And now I was a mom, and I wanted nothing more than to succeed at that too. I was under so much self-inflicted pressure that I could have imploded at any moment and honestly, at that point I just didn’t know how I was going to get everything done. It was intimidating and scary.

So, I did what came natural to me. I was on the grind to made it happen because for me, there was no other alternative. At one point I had three jobs (yes, three) to support myself and my son and was going to school full time. Yet I put a lot of pressure on myself to get everything just right. There was no room for error. And even at 18, this made me an uptight parent. I didn’t take my frustrations out on my child but it made me uptight in the way that I didn’t know how to go with the flow.

Everything needed to fall into my perfectly orchestrated plan and when it didn’t, I was out of sorts. Like roll around on the floor, fall-off-the-couch-onto-the-carpet-and-just-lay-there, disheveled. So there really wasn’t too much room for me to take the time to really just be. I was always doing this, doing that, studying this, preparing for this performance, driving to one job or another and being someone’s mom. And even when I graduated from college when my son was 4 years old, I didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment. Well, I was proud of myself but I was focused on what’s the next step in the plan.

If I could do the four years that I spent in college all over again, I’d take more time to relax and spent just a little more time being in the moment, whatever that moment might have been. I was so engulfed in what the next moment was that I now see that I missed out on fully experiencing the moments that I was given. I vaguely remember potty training him or his first day of preschool or what his favorite food was because I was so busy making the next move that would propel me to the finish line.

I was high strung, habitually stressed and took very little time to savor the small moments that make life what it is, like watching my baby sleep or scattering crayons all over the table and coloring with him. We would go to the park a lot but the time I spent with him was mostly when I was dropping him off at school in the morning, taking him to dance rehearsals at school with me in the evenings or the times we had together riding in the car. Now that I think about it, those were some of the best times. I taught him to sing with me while we drove and it was some of the sweetest memories I have of his early years.

It might sound almost unrealistic to actually stop and smell the roses when you’re in grind mode but I see now that it’s a necessity. The life of a parent is about doing what you can to nurture and care of your children the best way that you can. One of the very best things you can do for them is to just be there. No one can replace you so if it means taking some well-planned special time out to experience life with them in a way that really matters, then do it and have no regrets about the time spent doing it. And while you doing it, be in the moment – all the way in the moment and think of nothing else but the smile on your baby’s face. As the time passes and you look back on it, you’ll have those memories to hold onto in one hand while you hold your hard-earned diploma in the other.


  1. Yes, definitely have to slow down and enjoy the moments while you can. Degrees, jobs and all that other stuff will there, but moments don’t stand still and milestones don’t come back around. Once, you miss those they’re gone and you have wait or hope you can catch the next one.

  2. I was (almost) in the same boat. I had both of my children while in college and at a young age. Although I was married (and I use that term lightly) there was never any help, except the financial portion. It was extremely difficult. Now, I’m older and a single mother going back to college. It is very difficult and I am more high strung than ever!
    I have the same high expec ions and want everything to fit into this perfect box (plan) I have in mind, which it never does of course!
    Thank you for sharing. This has made me feel I’m not alone in these struggles and also makes me feel less of a “slacker” when I take the time to just “be”-whether alone or with my girls. Just take a minute to relax and breathe!

  3. I read the article as I had my son 6 weeks before the start of my senior and I will graduate in May. I’m confused as to your timeline and just want to know more. You said you spent 4 years in college graduated when your son was four but you also said you had him at the start of your junior? Just curious if you guys really live these experiences or is this just a website with fiction writing.

    • @Drew – Thanks for commenting. Mignon had her son before her junior year (as she wrote) and took a bit of time off before coming back to complete her degree, albeit slower as she had a child. Timeline makes sense to me….do most people complete their degree in four years exactly? Nope.