A Mother's perspective
Simply being a university student is a tough lifestyle. The majority of university students live with very little money, deal with stress and pressures from studies and work, and struggle to find balance in their lives. For parents, especially single parents who are also university students, these challenges are amplified and the burden of guilt and doubt can feel like a crushing weight at times.
I don’t think there is a single week that goes by where I don’t question my decision to leave a good paying job ... I feel selfish for pursuing a more fulfilling career. I feel guilty for forcing my son to live in a home where we literally eat dinner’s that cost no more than £5 a day (spread 3 ways because I also support a flatmate…) AND keep the leftovers for the following day's meals or snacks.
I feel heartbroken for spending so little time with my son because ,on top of my studies, I also have to work in my spare time. I feel terrible for inflicting ‘mom haircuts’ and patching clothes that have been outgrown and gluing the soles of shoes that have decided to start talking back to their wearer. I feel sad that ‘holidays’ have become a thing of myth and legend…
I imagine that any parent reading this who is thinking about going to university might wonder why I continue to study or may consider if they themselves are able to live with these challenges for 3 long years. Well, it’s not easy, but after I have replayed the catalogue of challenges in in my mind, I remind myself that this is my life too. I deserve to be happy as much as my son does and for me, that means re-educating myself.
I also remind myself that all of the hardship we are living through is in the pursuit of a better life for BOTH of us. Then I reflect on all the good things that have come out of this experience, namely, that the time we do spend together as a family is infinitely more precious, I am that much closer to a career that will satisfy me holistically and I am that much closer to a life that will provide stability, security and happiness for both of us.
So, would I choose to become a student again? Absolutely, and without hesitation, because it is the right decision for us.
Life can be lonely when my mom is always busy with studies and work… I also miss having her about to ask her opinion on things, like what she thinks of my drawings, or talking about the characters I create, but having a flatmate around does help a bit. As much as she tries, she doesn’t really have a lot of time to spend with me, especially when she first started, and I like spending time with her. I sit and watch her study and feel like it is swallowing her whole sometimes, and I wish she would just sit down and relax.
I felt like my mom really struggled to manage her studies and personal time when she first started university, but now she seems to be better at managing her time. It kind of sucks not being able to go on holidays as much as we would like, and not have the luxury of being able to buy new clothes or games. BUT, it has given me a new appreciation for money because I have learned how to decide what comes first, like rent and bills before things we can live without even though we don’t want to.
When she is away at placement or university or whatever, I feel that when we do spend time together, that time feels much more special. I like that my mom is trying to get a job that she would be happy in, because I would rather see her happy than see her in a job that makes her miserable, even if it did mean more money.
Just knowing when she comes out of university, she would go into a job she would enjoy, and instead of focusing on studies and things like that she could focus on the future and the things she wants to do. It's also nice watching her develop because she was really young when she had me. So it has been nice to see her grow as a person throughout her university career.