Single-parenting in college is hard

A student writes about how she cares for her son, while being a full-time Temple student.


Single parenting is hard.

Take all the advice you ever received and all the books you ever read and toss them out the window because they’re all BS.

Ever get that bonus in your paycheck and a flat tire the same morning? Ever rearrange your living room and jam your foot in the couch? Or, as a single parent, ever plan out an entire day of fun with your kids, thinking, “This’ll be great,” but it spins into chaos and ends with a much-needed bottle of wine?

I am currently a full-time student at Temple University, and I work a full-time job at Philadelphia Federal Credit Union. On top of that, I am also a single mom. 

Just about every morning, I argue with my 5-year-old about why he must wear thin socks with his favorite sneakers or why I can’t spend 15 minutes boiling him an egg for breakfast because I have to make it on time to school, too. 

After getting Ian ready for school, I rush to my 8 a.m. classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays before switching gears and working from 9:30 to 5:15. I later return to campus to take night classes. 

I’m smiling but, on the inside, I’m laughing like a hyena because juggling my work and parenting responsibilities in college is challenging. 

I have to fit my class schedule around my work schedule and often choose my classes based on what nights I know I’ll have a sitter for the period of the semester. Ian is in kindergarten at The Philadelphia Charter School for Arts and Sciences, and I send him to daycare before and after classes. Sending him alone on the school bus worries me, but the daycare staff are great at communicating with me about the process. 

Everyone parents differently, and that’s the beauty of it — there’s no wrong way — but if I’ve learned anything, it’s to pick and choose my battles.

For me, it’s long nights and early mornings. 

Single parents can face financial challenges, as well. Single mothers often spend more than half their incomes on housing expenses and a third on childcare, leaving them with less money for educational expenses, according to a 2015 United States Department of Agriculture report. My job at PFCU helps me pay for my apartment I live in with Ian. 

In 2017, about one-third of single mothers graduated with a college degree, while 15.3 percent did not completed high school, according to Single Mother Guide, an online resource.

Knowing those percentages has always been something that’s in the back of my mind. I do not want to be looked at as a statistic. Single mothers are capable of accomplishing great things, but we need to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. 

Still, I’ll never let these statistics get in my way.

Even so, I struggle to fit all my responsibilities into a day. Managing my work, studies and “mommy and son time,” while still needing to fit in time for myself is the most difficult. 

Have you ever heard the saying, “A mom’s job is never done?” Well, I’d say that is definitely true.

If I’m being honest, asking for help is the only way I’m getting through it. I look up to other single mothers like Amy Anderson. I read about Anderson in Parents Magazine and learned that she leaned on her family for support and used the computer skills she learned during her pregnancy to land a contracting job after the birth of her daughter. 

I do the best I can with what I have. I know that my blood, sweat and tears not only benefit me, but they also set the standard for a better future for my son. 

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