It’s tough. It really, really is.
I expected it. I knew it’d be hard – we both did. We left uni last April as full-time students. We return as student parents. Who would’ve thought that one word could make such a difference? Sitting in lectures today listening to all the work we’ll have to do, and of course I’m excited – I love the sound of the assignments we have to complete, and it’s my last year! It’s an exciting time! – but I’m also well aware that it’s going to be a challenge. It won’t be easy to complete a dissertation, two big performances and a load of practical and written assignments over the next year, as well as trying to figure out what I want to do with my life, but I’m determined.
I realised something when I got back to uni yesterday and saw my friends. When I go into class, I want to be the student me. Of course I don’t want to forget about my little girl (and I couldn’t possibly; I wear a necklace with her initial on it and her picture is all over my phone), but I want to be able to focus on my work. It’s a little tough at the moment, because not being with her all day is so new to me, but I think I’ll be kept so busy, it’ll become second nature. I also don’t want to be treated differently because of being a mum. I’m still just as capable of everything as I was before, and I don’t want people to feel they have to pick up the slack, which is why I’ll use the time she’s in childcare wisely.
Ah, childcare. The most controversial part of returning to uni so soon after having a baby. Here’s a tip; if you meet someone who is putting their baby in childcare at a young age (or at any age), the only polite and correct answer is ‘You have to do what works for you’. Some examples of wrong answers include ‘I could never do that’, ‘Aren’t you going to miss all her milestones?’ and ‘I think that’s very selfish’. Putting my baby into nursery at a young age has taught me one thing; people can be very mean.
On the other hand, people can be very supportive. My uni lecturers are very supportive, and I don’t know what I’d do without my friends. They’re keeping me going during lectures when I’m struggling, distracting me and keeping me so busy I don’t have time to be sad. And I can’t forget D, who’s going through all this too, but with the added pressure of trying to stay strong in order to support me.
It’s going to be tough, but I’m going to try and face it like a ‘normal’ student. And I make this vow right here, right now – this time next year, I’ll be looking forwards to graduating with the rest of my class; the class I started university with. I’m going to make my daughter proud of me.