Like many AU student moms, real life happened when I made other plans. I ended up leaving my first round of university studies before I finished my degree and then I met my British husband and moved overseas. While this brought so many real life experiences, not finishing my education was something that weighed me down.
Once we returned to Canada, I looked into completing my degree from one of the several universities in Calgary; but I found that the logistics of attending university frustrating and limiting for my situation.
I knew what I wanted to do, but how could I get there?
Athabasca University was the perfect fit. My advisor encouraged me and said that even though distance learning was difficult, it was possible. This gave me so much hope! Like other big life decisions I had to make over the years, I said “yes,” even though I was so scared. But I decided that I just had to feel the fear and do it anyway.
Just say yes
Saying “yes” to AU and new possibilities started to open doors for me.
The journey to finish my degree has taken longer than I’d planned because of some interesting turns along the way including taking on some volunteer work in my community, which in turn led to writing for Athabasca University’s student magazine, The Voice. Most recently, even though I felt that I was really crazy for taking more on, I’ve also become the Editor for Family Fun Calgary.
Where to study..?
I’ve often felt envious of young university students who don’t have a family to take care of.
I’ve written countless essays in between loads of laundry and planning what to make for supper. I’ve studied at picnic tables at parks while my son played and I’ve read snippets of novels while waiting for him at the orthodontist. My study goals are often small, like finishing a batch of study questions when I have a spare hour or reading that journal article before I go to bed. I feel progress has been painfully slow; but I’ve made progress and that’s what matters.
If I had to give one piece of advice to other student moms, it is: self-care should not be ignored. I’ve recently experienced a wake-up call in the form of burnout and I wrote about my experience for The Voice. I urge other student moms to build in some down time.
What does it take?
So what does it take to be a student mom? Resilience (or is that stubbornness?) is a given, time management helps, as does a crazy sense of humour. AU moms have been called Supermoms from time to time. I don’t know about that. The AU Student Families Facebook group is a great resource where we can all just have a whinge…and then we dig deep and keep going and encourage each other too.
Student moms just find a way to make it all work, and I don’t think there is a “typical” student mom situation out there. The truth is, I don’t feel infallible or very heroic at all—just someone who has said “yes”!
Born and raised in the West Kootenay region of BC, Carla Knipe spent 12 years living in the north of England with her British husband and son before returning to Canada. Since settling in Calgary, she loves being outside and enjoys getting involved in her community by volunteering; she especially enjoys being a Little Free Library steward. She is on the homestretch of completing her Bachelor of Arts in English at Athabasca University and also does some freelance writing in her spare time.