Parenting is tough. Equally tough is being a student. Combine the two and you've got yourself a challenging time. I started my Master's degree when my oldest daughter was 20 months old. This year she started junior kindergarten, and I'm still. working. on. my. degree...
Granted, in that time, I've also added another daughter to our family, done a little traveling (The Bahamas! The Florida Keys!...nothing THAT exciting) and also worked full-time at an office job.
Having kids and being a student essentially means being pretty much mediocre at both roles. There are times when I would love to be on the ground colouring with my kids, but instead I'm hunched over journal articles, highlighting and note-taking like a madwoman. Other times, I've had to write papers in a series of late-night sessions, after a full day of primary care-giving. When that happens, I tend to say fuck it when it comes to my editing, only to regret it when I get feedback from my instructors.
I've had to miss group meetings because I needed to pick up my kid at school. I've had to push an instructor to give me earlier office hours because I needed to get home and nurse my baby. I've never apologized for being a parent/student, but I'm sure I've inconvenienced people, my classmates and instructors alike, and that's pretty crappy.
And while I'm nearly done my studies (as long as I can achieve the completion of my research by the end of June) if I could go back in time and meet past me, I would definitely have encouraged myself to complete grad school BEFORE I had kids. I can't imagine that I will pursue any higher education, at least not until my children have achieved a higher level of independence and/or we're rich enough to hire help (which is a very pie in the sky statement).
But, at the same time, I do enjoy keeping myself busy, and keeping myself challenged. As well, I like that my daughters see me working hard and achieving a goal. I continue to remind them that their education is so very important. Michelle Obama said being smart made her feel cool. I think being smart is cool. I hope they feel that way too.
At this point though, I long for the end of June, when, unbelievably, all of this work should (WILL!) be done. When I can read books with my kids, spend entire afternoons baking with them, playing with playdough, and just generally going at their speed, without the always looming deadline present in my mind.