Being a college student is stressful – nobody can argue against this. The life of a college student consists of almost twenty-four hours of stress. From an early morning wake up call if one has classes in the morning, to the demands of the daily class activities like graded recitations and discussion sessions, not to mention the efforts it takes to be friendly with everybody including fellow students who have attitude problems or professors who find great pleasure in terrorizing students . Homework, assignments, project deadlines, and the preparations required for examinations make up the rest of the stress contributors in the life of a student – sometimes eating up most of an evening especially during final examinations week, considering that a student has to go over chapters and chapters of reading materials if he or she really wants to work for good grades. For a college student, it seems that twenty-four hours is never enough for his or her school work, the lack of time proving to be another source of stress.
Being a college student and being a mother at the same time is undoubtedly twice as hard and twice as stressful. This is because in addition to the usual stresses being experienced by a regular or an ordinary student, a student mother also contends with the demands made by motherhood. In other words, she is compelled to play the dual role of a student trying to acquire a college education and that of a mother who desires to nurture her child “from infancy to adulthood (and beyond).” (Scott, 2007) If being a college student expects so much from a person, being a mother demands so much more. The additional stresses experienced by a student mother concerns her time, her relationships, and her financial condition.
For a student mother, time is a very valuable commodity not only because it allows her to do what must be done – it is also something which is always in short supply. A student mother, therefore, must use or manage her time very wisely if she wants everything done properly. Time, or the lack of it, is a primary source of stress for a student mother. She has so many things to do whether she is a single mother or is a married mom that a twenty-four-hour day seldom suffices. This situation is true even if the student mother is not employed. It becomes worse if she is a working mother as well. A look at the day-to-day activities of a nonworking student mother should show us how hard-pressed she is for time. Everyday she has to be up and ready very early in the morning to prepare breakfast and sees to all the other things that her husband needs, before she could attend to the other daily household chores waiting in line for her attention. There are dishes to do or the whole house or apartment to clean. Sometimes while she is attending to her husband’s needs, her baby or child would vie for her attention – asking for a bottle or a glass of milk, crying because it needs a diaper change, or simply an early morning mother’s hug for reassurance.
If she is attending university in the morning, everything has to be prepared for the babysitter, especially the baby’s needs, before she could leave for school. If her child is already attending school, she sees to it that he or she is ready – bathed, fed, and dressed – by the time the school bus arrives. After school, the student mother could not immediately read her lessons or do her homework because she is not through with her household chores. Dinner must be prepared. As soon as the child arrives from school, he or she should be attended to: she should assist or direct him or her to change, inquire about school to show she cares, and help him or her with his or her school assignments. When the husband arrives from work, she turns her attention away from her child and sees to her husband’s requirements: dinner, which she, of course should eat with him, and then do the evening dishes and prepare the child for bed. Afterwards, the student mother still is not free to do her homework. If dear husband wants to talk about problems at work, she is obliged to listen and do her wifely duty: agree with what her husband did about the problem, perhaps, or offer her own suggestions. Only after all of these things are done could the student mother read her lessons and do her homework and projects. This task could occupy her until the wee hours of the morning. (Scott, 2007)
Another source of stress for a student mother is her relationship with people who matter to her. This includes her friends, her parents, and especially her husband. A student mother is occupied with so many tasks that she is usually left too exhausted to think of other things. After the household chores and her school work described above, one could understand if the student mother loses contact with people she loves. Because of her very hectic schedule she could no longer find time to get in touch with her friends, let alone go out with them. Sometimes this causes her friends to wonder if she has already completely forgotten about them or worse, no longer cares about them. The student mother knows this very well and is stressed because of it. She, of course, wants to acquire a college degree and have a better-paying job without losing her friends if she could just do anything about it. The same holds true with her parents. Sometimes even a once-a-week telephone call to say hello is too difficult to do because she could just not spare the time. Even if her parents take the initiative and call her, the student mother could not talk to them very long because her time is always “not enough” or could not be spent on the telephone. Some chore is always there waiting to be done
. Dear husband is usually feeling unattended, as well. The least that most student mothers could do for their husbands is spend some time talking about domestic problems and problems at work after dinner and before she attends to her school work, a task that usually lasts until the wee hours of the morning. Because of exhaustion, it is not surprising if the student mother forgets about sex altogether. This is especially true if the student mother, after doing her school assignments until, say, 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning, has to wake up after only a couple of hours because the baby is asking for milk or requires a diaper change. Even weekends are fully occupied. They are usually spent bonding with the child or children (playing ball or going to the park), seeing to the laundry, getting the groceries, and going to church. Of course the student mother may be fully aware of their relationship getting strained or at least cooling down, a fact which gives her an additional cause for stress. There are times when this awareness could force the student mother to entertain thoughts of abandoning her personal ambition just to protect their relationship. Indeed, a less persevering student mother could very well opt to stop attending school in such a situation. (Scott, 2007)
A third cause for stress of being a mother while attending college is the financial cost involved. The cost of acquiring a college education in the United States is rather prohibitive. Raising a child or two is just as costly, if not a great deal more expensive. Whether the student mother qualifies for a scholarship or an educational grant or not, her situation is a stressful one. If she acquires a scholarship, she is constantly stressed because her scholarship requires her to maintain a certain grade level otherwise, she loses the scholarship. Faced with the daunting task of combining mothering with college as shown in the foregoing discussion, the stress involved is considerable. On the other hand, if she is not good enough to qualify for a scholarship, she is nevertheless stressed because money is not easy to come by. Attending college while raising a kid or two is very expensive and could have mediocre results in both undertakings: the kid and her grades in college could suffer at the same time. (Scott, 2007)
The stresses of being a student mother should be effectively addressed if success is to be hoped for. Towards this end, the full cooperation of the husband, once obtained, could greatly help in easing these stresses and help the student mother overcome them.