By Jennifer Longiaru
I was thirty-something when I decided to go back to school. I started slowly at first, continuing to work from home part-time. And then, when I was laid-off from my job, I jumped into school full-time. Now, nearly five years later, I’m on course to graduate in May.
A lot has changed in five years. I got married, we bought a house, and in July of 2013, my daughter Persephone was born. It’s this last development that has, understandably, impacted my schooling the most.
I’m a Creative Writing major, which means that I read a lot. Which is great-I like to read and it can be done almost anywhere, at any time, even in the dark if you’ve got a Kindle. But Creative Writing also entails a lot of writing (obviously), which I also like to do, but which can’t really be done anywhere at any time. Of course, I can make notes or jot down story ideas while sitting at the playground or waiting for a pediatrician’s appointment. But finding long stretches of time to sit and just let the ideas flow from the pen onto the page is tricky when you have a little kid. I read recently that a toddler is a lot like a blender on high with the top off, and I have to agree. Take your eyes off your child for too long, and you might find your living-room walls covered in crayon, or that your child has eaten the cat food. A combination of guilt, a need for almost complete silence while I work, and a desire to actually spend time with my daughter prevents me from parking her in front of the TV while I write. Persephone doesn’t go to school yet, so this leaves me with few options when it comes to getting writing in. Option A is working while she naps. But she’s almost three; she doesn’t nap consistently anymore, so that’s not guaranteed. Option B is putting her to bed (or my husband doing so) around 8:00 p.m. and coming down to the kitchen to write. Fine. But spending the day with a toddler can be exhausting, and I prefer to write when I’m fresh, which leaves me with Option C, writing in the morning before she wakes up. So each day, I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. come down to the kitchen, make coffee, and write.
The above are all solid options, but only allow me snatches of time before I need to get back to the business of parenting. So when I need big chunks of time to write, I go to Option D, which is going to the library while my husband and daughter do something fun. Like go to a carnival, or apple-picking or decorate the house for Christmas.
Sadly, there are only so many hours in a day and sometimes you have to pick and chose. But the satisfaction of getting my work in on time and earning good grades helps lessen the pain I feel missing these moments. As does the fact that someday I’ll be able to tell Peri that there was something I wanted to do, something important, and even though it was hard and I had to make sacrifices to get it done, I got it done.