As we begin a new school year, the air is filled with excitement and anticipation. Yet for many, especially college parents, it can also stir up emotions of dread and anxiety. A new semester means having to shell out cash on an already tight budget for school supplies, school clothes for the kids, textbooks, and babysitters, to name a few. It means searching for child care, figuring out schedules, and having to get your kids out of bed, bathed, dressed,, fed, and ready to leave by 8 a.m. each morning. With each new semester, I always manage to foster up emotions of guilt thinking about having to drop my son off at a day care all day. I battle the part of my brain that wishes I could be the stay-at-home-mom that can spend every moment with her kids and witness every cute thing they do each day. However, as these thoughts run through my mind and my body tenses up with stress, I remind myself why I chose to become a “college parent” in the first place.
I began my first semester at Cal State Northridge right after graduating high school in 2005. Much like a “normal” college student I lived in the dorms, went to school full-time, and spent the remainder of my time working a part-time job and hanging out with friends. An unplanned pregnancy in the fall semester of 2006 led to my decision to take a year off from school after my son was born in August of 2007. During that year, I would wonder what the future had in store for me and what I was going to do with my life now. With little help or support from my son’s father, I knew I had to return to school and complete my education.
So, in the fall of 2008 a few weeks after my son’s first birthday, I resumed my studies in journalism as a sophomore at CSUN. I was able to take advantage of the great resources that CSUN provides, such as an on-campus day care and housing catering to student families. Feelings of gratitude and hope filled my heart; I felt blessed to be given a second chance at an education. And this time, it meant so much more.
Having a degree, I will be able to provide so much more for my son than I would have otherwise as a single mom. Not only will it provide more career opportunities for me, I will be setting a great example for him. I want my son to believe in following his dreams and acquire an appreciation for education. Hopefully, my returning to school will show him that he can overcome obstacles and that persistence pays off. My main motivation for going to school now is my son, and I want him to understand that all the hard work and hours I put into my studies are because I love him so much and want him to have a good life. So whenever I get stressed and overwhelmed thinking about the new school year, I stop myself and change my thought pattern.
Now that I am officially a graduating senior this new semester, I am reminding myself of all I have to look forward to. I am looking forward to learning opportunities that will better prepare me for the real world once I graduate, such as writing for the Daily Sundial. I hope to strengthen relationships not only with friends and peers, but my teachers as well. My son will be starting his first year of preschool, and I am looking forward to watching him learn and grow. It is so exciting for me to think about him learning to write his name, sing the alphabet, and make new friends.
Education is truly one of life’s greatest gifts. As a parent, it is easy to get stressed out about our day to day responsibilities. However, if you feel yourself beginning to become overwhelmed with the beginning of the new semester, just take a breath and give yourself a little reminder. Remind yourself why you chose to get your degree in the first place, and remind yourself that it’s all worth it not just for you but for your whole family.