The baby needs to be fed and my toddler just smeared chocolate chips all over the couch. My daughters and their friends run through the house leaving a trail of clutter behind them. Loud music is blasting from my teenager’s room and he wants a ride to the golf course right now. My husband is out running errands, the phone is ringing off the hook, and I’m frantically working on my English essay. It’s a typical afternoon at my house - a “squeaky wheel gets the grease” kind of day - when I’m right on the verge of losing my mind.
When I made the decision to return to school, I knew being a student mom would not be without its share of sacrifices and difficulties. I fully anticipated the challenge of balancing my school work along with all the other demands of a busy household. Multi-tasking has never been my forte, yet I’m compelled to use this skill everyday whether I like it or not. Juggling while riding a unicycle seems effortless compared to the logistical nightmare of balancing the constantly competing and changing demands of an active family. Life in our home is a complex equation where the variables are always changing. The only constant part is the ongoing juggling and balancing.
Keeping everything on an even keel requires patience, a lot of give and take, and a little bit of creativity. For instance, I’ve discovered that a cookbook holder is good for propping textbooks open while I’m nursing. Time spent scrubbing toilets, cooking dinner, or running kids to dance class are good times to ruminate on my reading or what I want to include in my English essays. Since I don’t have the luxury of plopping down in a quiet library cubicle for hours and hours (though I wish I did), my only choice is to find a way to take advantage of those numerous ten to fifteen minute increments throughout the day. Though it’s hard to tune out game blips from the kids’ nearby computer, movies blaring on the home theatre, or a child yelling for me from some remote corner of the house, I continue to plow along in hope. Perseverance is the name of the game as a nontraditional student, and in spite of the inherent complexity of my life, it’s grand to be back in the academic world. Now where’s that box of Calgon?