I have been a full-time student two different times in my life — premom (in my 20s) and postmom (in my 30s). While both experiences have offered a unique set of challenges, I've realized how much of a better student I am now as a mom. At first thought, this doesn't make much sense. When I was 22 years old, I had one responsibility: go to school and get good grades. Now that I'm 36, I have a ton of responsibilities — the most demanding of them being my 4-year-old son. Before deciding to go back full time, I wasn't sure if I could juggle it all; I was afraid of failing. But I've realized something lately: I'm kicking butt. My grades are better than they've ever been (straight A's versus B's and C's), my connection is much deeper, and my focus is much clearer. I could probably attribute my progress to a few things (one of them being my age), but I believe it stems from something else: becoming a mother.
Here are the five reasons becoming a mom has also made me a better student:
I procrastinate less.
Ask most full-time college students if they ever procrastinate, and they will probably laugh. Procrastination is our middle name, and most exams, papers, and projects would never get completed if it weren't for the handy tool of procrastination. Since becoming a mom, I don't have this luxury. My child-free time is very limited, and the few hours I do get to myself are devoted to my studies. Instead of putting off a 15-page paper until the last week of class (like the old me would do), I finish it three weeks early. Instead of cramming for a test the day before an exam, I study ahead of time. I have to get stuff done when I can. Which leads me to my second reason . . .
I prioritize my time better.
Before having kids, our time is our own. We can do whatever we want, whenever we want, and however we want. I never realized how much time I had to myself until I became a mom. It's like looking back on a photo of your thinner self, realizing, "Damn, I looked good." Then wondering, "Why did I criticize myself all the time?" Being a mom forces me to take a closer look at my time and map it out. I plan to work on my assignments, study for my quizzes, and write my papers well in advance. Because of this crucial step, they get handled a lot more carefully.
I'm more motivated.
Motivation is a tricky thing. If you don't have it, you don't have it. Before becoming a mother, my motivation was primarily focused on one thing: my music career. My husband and I were music partners, and after he passed in 2014, I was inspired to make a new path in life. I realized how short life is and how any day could be your last. I suddenly wanted more for myself and more for my son. I also wanted to set a good example for him, and I was a single mom who now had to make a living on my own. Having my son has motivated me on a new level. I want to get good grades because I want him to know that if I can do it, he can, too.
I am smarter.
When I was younger, I never considered myself a smart person. I hated math, and I wasn't too fond of history . . . or even writing, for that matter. School was a bit of a challenge for me — it felt like something I had to do vs. something I wanted to do. After discovering I was pregnant, I became a hungry reader. I wanted to know what to expect in the years to come, and I found solace in books. Growing up, I struggled with reading (likely due to an undiagnosed case of ADHD), and I had a hard time focusing. Fast forward to now: I've never felt more intelligent. Becoming a mom has given me a sense of confidence that I never had before — a sense of knowing. Motherhood has taught me more than my first stint in college ever did. Instead of getting intimidated by school (like I used to), I get pumped up — eager to take on the challenges ahead.
My son balances me out.
This past semester, out of four of my classes, I was the only parent in three of them. This was mind boggling to me. It wasn't because I was the oldest — not even close. In fact, only one of my professors had kids, and her kids were grown. There was one other mom in one of my classes, and we conveniently ended up sitting next to each other. Most people go to school before having kids (just as I once did) and have a lot of success. I could even say that I was successful — I graduated, didn't I? But I never felt success the way I feel it now. Going home to my son after taking an exam or presenting a paper balances me out. He gives me a disconnect from the grades, the students, the professors, and the campus that I never had before. Being the only parent in class feels like I have a little secret — a special one. One that I can't wait to go home to.