Double Roles: Life as a Mother and a College Student

Superwoman. That’s what I refer to myself as these days.

When I started college almost five years ago, I always envisioned I would end up with a degree. But along the way, I gained something else – a child.

My name is Tiyana Shaw, and my now six-month-old son is named Kenneth Conley III, but I prefer to call him K3. Kenneth was born last September, during the beginning of my (super) senior year. Well, the first one I should say.

These days, graduation is a reoccurring thought of mine. I am beyond ready to graduate and receive my degree, and I spend a lot of time in school shooting down the negative stereotypes of being both a mother and a student.

Make no mistake, my struggles began far before Kenneth. Changing my major, retaking classes, health issues and a couple part-time semesters have all contributed to my delayed graduation date. Needless to say, there are some things I wish I had done differently – but Kenneth isn’t one of them.

Most students face social media, television and other things as distractions while doing their homework. My distraction is a cute little boy crawling over to my laptop, adding his own special messages to my assignments. And when I say “special messages,” I mean a lot of gibberish. Kenneth’s tendency to do this, while adorable, inevitably takes away from my time to complete assignments.

After a very short night of sleep, my days pretty much happen like this:

  1. Wake up to a slap in the face, or slobbery kisses, because I made the huge mistake of letting my son sleep in bed with his dad and I. Some people find co-sleeping to be great, but I’m still trying to find the positives.
  2. Change Kenneth, play with Kenneth, feed Kenneth, get Kenneth dressed (there seems to be a reoccurring pattern here).
  3. Make it to class. Repeat step two. Attempt homework – which is unsuccessful 90 percent of the time.

Being productive while raising a small child is tricky. Before Kenneth was born, I continuously received the same advice: sleep at the same time Kenneth is sleeping. However, this advice is a lot easier said than done. I found myself always exhausted, sometimes to the point where I couldn’t fall asleep even if I wanted to. It didn’t help much to be a zombie during the day, seeing as I still had so much to accomplish aside from being a mother.

Now, I wake up every day with a to-do list. But to be completely honest, there never seems to be enough hours in the day.

 (Photo I Mary LaVictor)
(Photo | Mary LaVictor)

I told myself I would become more organized when Kenneth was born, but here we are, six months later, and I’m still a major procrastinator – I guess some things never change.

Becoming a mother has had a large impact on every aspect of my life – my social life included.

What about the parties? Well, lets just say I haven’t been to a party since December, 2013. Not partying is something I miss at times, but I’m used to it not being a part of my life anymore.

Experiencing St. Patrick’s Day for the first time as a mom was interesting. I couldn’t celebrate last year because I was pregnant, and this year I was at home with Kenneth. Most of my friends went to the bar for their celebrations – and I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.

But as I played with Kenneth, I didn’t find myself sitting at home swimming in resentment – I was content. Although I miss some aspects of my “old life,” I am completely happy and statisfied with my new one. The sleepless nights, throw up stains on my clothes and ripped pages in my textbooks are all worth it at the end of the day.