Sometimes It Takes a Village

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Right now it feels like it takes a village to raise a graduate student with children.

I knew going back to school in my 30s wouldn’t be easy. Doing it with two kids, well…that’s even more special. I like to think that actual in-school education has become something all of us share. This year my son, Samuel, started his first year of middle school. Don’t we remember that well? It’s just never a good time for anyone. As a sixth grader he’s working on fractions, studying volcanoes, and learning how to become a percussionist. We’ve already mastered one group project (if parents can be part of a group) that required us to convert a paper tube into a rain stick that played soothing precipitation music for at least 20 seconds, complete with Native American motif. I was proud of our work on that one.

My daughter, Amelia, is in second grade. For her, school is a treat. She loves reading, math and drawing pictures. Her biggest challenge is staying focused in class and not talking too much. Somehow, I can really relate to that! My husband has also decided to take a class this quarter. As an OSU employee, he enjoys free tuition so he thought he’d test the waters of graduate school with an upper level bioinformatics course. That sounds like a nightmare beyond stats to me, but he’s thriving.

On most Mondays the four of us can be found hunkered over worksheets, books or laptops. I feel guilty that I can’t be there to help them with homework Tuesday through Thursday, but I hope that I’m setting an example of learning as a life-long endeavor.

This week mom-in-college has taken on a special twist with my husband on a business trip to UCSD. Fortunately, my parents–our little extended village–have stepped up to care for the children while I’m in class. And because I get home more than an hour beyond their bedtime, they are enjoying a rare mid-week sleepover as well. Each morning I get up extra early to bring them home to meet the school bus. It’s not a perfect system, but it works.