This is something I find I am constantly asking myself. I have come to the general conclusion, that loss of grey matter as a result of having children has rendered me unable to say no to situations that most people would consider crazy. Or perhaps the lack of grey matter has convinced the rest of my brain that I am invincible, and childbearing has bestowed me with innate super powers....
At either rate, whatever the cause, I have managed to convince myself that undergoing a second M.A., while breastfeeding, volunteering and working are a good idea. Ha! As I think about the way my days are carried out I wonder where the sane train was when I missed the stop. Let's take the first day for instance.
There is the usual waking, nursing, lunch making, showering and breakfast making-before the hour long commute into the city. Followed by the dreaded walk up the mountain, one three hour class followed immediately by a dash up another 2 floors to the next 3 hour class. If I'm fast enough I have just enough time to go to the washroom or pump breast milk for P. Since often because of lack of time it comes down to a decision between the two, the pumping generally wins. Good thing I have developed camel like tendencies out of necessity.
Usually the last class of the day is followed by a dash down the hill to the train in hopes to get a seat and not have to stand the hour home. After which I hop off and go home to nurse P, do homework and cook dinner for the night. After which comes bath time, cluster feeding bedtime and my own homework. Lunch making for the girls lunches the next day and then I hop into bed to do it all over again. Yup, this is a typical day. Not a harry hectic day, just a regular plain old day. Back to day one of second semester....
5 minutes into day one of my second semester of the Grad school walk up the hill and the button pops off my jacket. No, not the un-noticable, your jacket still closes button - the middle button over the chest that busts the jacket wide open. No biggy though, its only 5 million degrees below zero with the windshield factor....Did I mention I trek up a steep mountain to get to my classes in a building near the top of that mountain? And that its an ice rink? With no buildings to shelter the wind?
If this scenario wasn't indication enough of the way the day/semester would be turning out my dream should've been fair warning. Running through a playground riddled with cobra snakes barefoot past a lion in order to reach ones children is no easy feat. And that was all before 5am.
During the three or four hours I managed to sleep in a row. You see, P doesn't sleep through the night. In fact, he has never slept through the night a day in his life.
This is most likely due to the fact that my parenting style does not dictate that my child has to be on a specific schedule. Although it would be nice if P chose to sleep- oh I don't know- say 6 hours in a row. The reality of it is, he doesn't. I am not a fan of crying it out methods as I don't feel that they foster a relationship of trust between mom and baby. Some people advocate for this method, and everyone has their own way of parenting - its just not my cup of tea. G and I (much like my co-blogger Svea and her husband), subscribe to the attachment parenting model, which is a parenting philosophy that aims to foster long term secure bonding between children and their parent bodies. It is a more instinctive and intuitive parenting approach that encourages parents to be sensitive and responsive to babies cues. Within this model there are what the Sears (Martha and Bill) call the 7 baby B's (bonding, breastfeeding,
baby wearing, bedding close to baby, belief in the language value of your baby's cry, beware of baby trainers and balance). You can learn and read more about this approach on the Sears' website or by reading their book: The Attachment Parenting Book.
Although I am back to school, I still maintain attachment parenting concepts, adjusting to our particular situation. For example, we still co-sleep, wear P and I am still breastfeeding him, all variables that play a role in how I schedule my work and classes. These variables also dictate the amount of sleep I get in one night - which is not a lot. If I get 3 good hours to rub together I have won the lottery.
The beauty about parenthood is, you adjust. Yes! Parents have survived sleep depravation for centuries. While parenthood may not give you super powers, although I like to think it does come with a set of cool attributes not limited to eyes in the back of your head, extreme balancing skills and the ability to stop rowdy children with a single look- it will allow you to surprise even yourself. It is amazing how the body is able to cope with more stress and less sleep, digging into extra reservoirs of strength from the interstices of the soul. It also forces you to be organized.
Which is why I'm able to go to school and do other things while surviving on little sleep and possibly too much decaf. That and I am eternally optimistic that my efforts will pay off both in the form of a stable well paying job, and the example that will influence my children to carry on with their own educations until they achieve their dreams.
Looking back 12 years ago to when I was just 16 with a brand new baby and no job, high school or prospects, I never would have known where I would end up today. But I can tell you what I was thinking. I made a pact, with myself and my child that I would not be a statistic or be labelled. I would break through barriers and become more for J and any future children I would have. I was thinking I would do it for them. 12 years and 3 children later, I can say I have overcome adversity.
On days when I ask myself what was I thinking? I remind myself that I wouldn't trade the lack of sleep, ridiculously busy, hectic schedule, or toddler meltdowns that make up a regular day in my house for anything, because my kids are the strength that has fuelled me. As stated by Cornelia, mother of Gracchi, depicted in the 1785 painting by classical painter Angelica Kauffman - my children are my treasures.