I preface this post by saying I speak from a position of privilege. I make that statement because my experience may not be common, and I acknowledge that there were women who struggled so much during this Coronavirus pandemic. As a single mom of 4 kiddos and 2 more that are mine, not by birth, life is a struggle. My heart goes out to those who struggled and are still struggling.
As a mom in my forties I have learned alot about myself and what I need to stay emotionally strong and healthy. One of those rules of life is to really strive to look at the bright side. When the quarantine started, I was determined to not let fear and sadness overtake my life and the household. We sat down for a family meeting and even though I was stressed about our financial situation, I did not want the kids to feel that pressure. I talked with them about how this was a perfect opportunity to reunite. Everyone was always so busy passing by each other to get to work, school, sports events, date nights, etc. that we weren’t really spending time together, at least not quality time. This was a scary time, but we were going to make the best of it. We kept the house clean, we felt that was very important to being stuck inside. We dove into fun culinary adventures, like making traditional chinese food, and baking all kinds of cake and cookies. The kids were huge fans of sweet and sour chicken. To be honest it was quite labor intensive, so while it tasted amazing, I dreaded the request for it. My dumplings were not as much of a success. We also had themed movie nights and played many board games. One of the kids’ favorites was clue. We did quite a bit of yard work. We hiked quite a few trails and even went kayaking.
When the shut downs began so did my job. Everything was on hold. So in September 2020, I found myself unemployed, living on my savings and just about over being stuck in quarantine. So I decided to finish my Bachelors Degree. Two of my kids were starting college online as well, and all the other kids were virtually doing school, so why not me too. I jumped in with both feet and took a full schedule. My bachelor’s degree is in literature with a minor in gender studies.
This time around, attending college in my forties, was way more fun; in a different way. It was no longer a right of passage for me. I wasn’t attending college parties, no one was due to covid. I also did not gain the “freshman 20”. I was gaining the coronavirus 20. The difference was I was more skilled, emotionally and intellectually. I had way better time management skills. Reading 30 some pages of Authurian literature a night was no sweat. I also really appreciated the fact that I was able to do this. I enjoyed the perspectives, ideas, and thoughts given in class by my much younger classmates. It gives you a very intimate experience of younger points of view. By the end of the semester, I celebrated Christmas on the Dean’s list.
I’m just now finishing another successful semester. Coronavirus is almost over, and things this summer will hopefully be back to normal. This past semester wasn’t easy. I work 50 hours a week and with most of the kids still in virtual school, it was a challenge. After working all day I needed to cook dinner and help the kids with the assignments they were struggling with. I spend almost every lunch break in a zoom class or studying. I had many late nights after kids went to bed, cramming for tests and writing papers. My heart goes out to all those who have struggled during this time, and to those who have lost loved ones.
There were a few important takeaways from this experience. Never underestimate your ability. If you want to go back to school, make it happen. You can do it. The professors at Stockton are amazing. They understand life happens, and that you have so much more going on than just school. They take the time to reach out, understand, guide, and most importantly care. Never lose sight of what is important, and for me that was family time. It shouldn’t be left to weekends or just the dinnertime hour. Enjoy the presence of your children. Soak them in, every moment, every laugh, every hug. That is where your memories come from that will flood your mind later on in life. Be present. Live in the moment. Lastly, be kind. People around you are dealing with struggles that you don’t know about. Be kind and be patient.