How does she do it all?
A lot of the time, I get the “I don’t know how you do it all” comment from people.
And the truth is, I really don’t either, but I’ll give you a glimpse into what it’s really like.
It’s 3:30 AM.
The dogs are snoring on the floor. My husband is snoring on the couch. Our son is in my lap nursing as I am writing.
I am exhausted. I wanted to go to bed early tonight, but I also wanted to finish this last chapter. It’s the first time today that my son is quiet enough and preoccupied enough with food to let me do this, without me having to walk him or rock him or snuggle him.
He comes first. Always. But in this moment, my work finally gets to come first. My son will eventually nurse himself back to sleep and I will get a good chunk of work done.
It’s now 4:30 AM.
I quietly get us back into bed if I am lucky, but more times than not, we make it to the recliner and I hold our son as I get 2 hours of sleep before my late alarm for work will go off. I will shower and throw on whatever dress I can find and am out the door to complete my 2 hour long commute.
It is now 6:45 AM.
I autopilot the hour into my job, praying the entire way that there isn’t an accident that will make the entire highway a parking lot. I review over and over again, the lesson I plan on teaching and where everything that I need to get together for the lesson is in my room.
It is now 7:45 AM.
I am at work, signed in and setting up for the day. I have 10 minutes before the kids come in. I make sure I have everything I need and my board is set up for the day. My day consists of teaching three block classes and attending PLC meetings or using prep time to prep for my classes.
It is now 2:40 PM.
I am probably in my car. I get a few seconds to breathe before I am either commuting home to take my son from my husband, before he goes off to night school or I am heading deeper into the capital city to hold my office hours for my night class. I will be there until about 10:00 PM.
It’s a four hour class on reading. I go through office hours, probably eat something, grade my papers, talk to students who come in and then I teach the class for four hours.
Then I walk to my car and finally get to drive the hour home.
I take my son from my husband because chances are he has been up and fussy all night because I am not home to lie with him at bedtime like I do or let him nurse himself to sleep. With any luck, he will go down for the final time and I will either get to have some sleep myself or I will be up again writing and nursing a baby at 3:00 in the morning.
It’s hard being a working mom and going to school full time. It takes a lot out of you and oftentimes, you are giving up something else in turn. For me, I largely lack a social life because my free time, at the moment goes to my son, and on the rare occasions that he is tired of me, we both get to have that wonderful nap that will never fully catch me up on sleep.
I remember when I thought it was hard to be 20 something weeks pregnant, writing my doctoral comprehensive exam and being in bed with the flu. I laugh at that time now. That was easy… when I think about it now.
Katherine Kuzma-Beck Hart is an Adjunct Professor of English at Mercer County Community College. This story was published on February 26, 2019, on Katherine’s blog (available here), and has been republished here with her permission.