There are a number of ways being a parent and attending school really sucks. Like, so many ways. It is, as you might assume, completely exhausting sometimes, and the logistics of getting both yourself and your kid(s!) to school on time every day... well, those logistics are not built-in, and there's no one to really teach you how to make it work, and literally every single day feels like a brand new attempt at figuring out how to make all the various pieces of your life fit together in a way that is actually functional. Which is to say, it's challenging to be figure out how to go back to school when you have kids.
However, being a mom isn't entirely a hindrance to educational success. In fact, for all the "having kids will derail your educational and professional goals and basically ruin your life" admonitions you might hear (especially if you have a kid while you're still in school, and/or while you're young or youngish), there are actually a great many ways in which the experiences and skills you acquire through the course of having and raising a tiny human make you, in fact, even better at school. There are some life lessons that go along with parenting which manage to ease the path to Studentville. Whether it’s our uncanny ability to craft plausible but nonsensical answers on the spot or our impressively honed sleeplessness, there’s a parenting skill set that dominates the classroom when wielded by our capable hands. Here are just a few of the ways being a parent makes you a better student:
Our Brains Are Already Wired To Hear Only The Most Important Things
As parents, we are genetically programmed to only listen to the important stuff. This is very helpful in school since, like children, 90% of what a teacher says is ultimately useless, or is in the textbook so I don't really ~need~ to hear them say it. That said, the other 10% is the difference between wasting your time being there at all and getting a real education, so it's very important not to miss it. So, yes, we may be sleeping during most of the class and using our phones under to table to emails promises to our kid's school that they will “never do that again” but when the professor utters the words “for the exam…” you best believe we treat it like it's our child's actual "I'm hurt" cry and hop to attention. Our notes will always be minimal but precisely on point. Plus, we do an absolutely impressive head tilt of sadness which tends to get the professor’s sympathy when needed.
We're Always Packing Brain Food
If we’ve learned anything from the after-school snack commercials, it's that the brain needs nourishment in order to focus. Well, my backpack doubles as a mom bag complete with granola bars, trail mix, water in a variety of containers lest the child feel it tastes “too plastic,” and I’m pretty sure there’s even some kale near the bottom. (OK, it might be kale. If not, it’s fragments of dead leaves from last year’s pumpkin patch extravaganza and the green is a strange fungus with the ability to infiltrate the immune system and kill you in minutes. So, if you’re looking for patient zero, it wasn’t kale.) The point is... I have snacks. And snacks make me a better student. I see that girl down in the front row who clearly didn't wake up on time to eat breakfast, and she's fading fast as she cradles the coffee she grabbed on the way in that "would be fine for now" and I'm very happy I'm not her (even if I might have a real fungal problem unfolding in the depths of my bag).
We Already Have To Get Up Early, So Oversleeping Is Not Really A Problem
I mean, because kids tend to wake up at thoroughly unholy hours of the morning, we have to get up anyway, so we might as well go to class. It's like, if I was a non-parent student and my options where: go to class or lounge around in bed watching Netflix and eating all morning, I would definitely be tempted to opt for the latter on many, many occasions. But I wouldn't be able to lounge around even if I did skip class, since the ever-lengthening list of sh*t I need to do would crush my brain and completely erase any chance for actual relaxing.
So if my options are: go to class and sit uninterrupted for at least an hour, or do the laundry, dishes, clean toys, sanitize moldy something, and make snacks... I think going to class sounds fantastic! There is something to be said for always having a worse alternative than studying.
We Know The Answer To Every Question
Being called upon in class will never be worse than answering, “Mom, are you even listening to me?” after forty-five minutes of our kid babbling in the mind of monotonous, endless way that melts away our last brains cells. If we've gotten good at answering that question in a way the appeases our child, you better believe we can fire off something to our professor if they call on us in class, no matter how much we don't know the actual answer. We may not know the answer but we will definitely rattle off something to pacify the question.
We've Got Loads Of Perspective To Keep Us From Sweating The Small Stuff At School
Look, I care about my grades but I’m not going to cry over a C. Realistically, I’ll probably roll my eyes and wonder why the professor is a moron, but that's the extent of how much I'm going to care. I’ve lived long enough to realize grades are mostly completely irrelevant and it’s more important that I learn the material. I may not finish at the top of the class, but I will remember what I learned. And guess what? My professors are going to write excellent letters of recommendation when I need them, because with all that energy I wasn't wasting on getting a C on one paper, I will have taken extra time getting to know each and every one of them. Priorities and perspective: Parents have so much of it.
Perhaps the number one way in which parents make better students is the fact we are capable of being responsible for ourselves. There’s a solid chance we will show up late to class but we aren’t going to blame the traffic and try to beg forgiveness. We may fall asleep during a midterm but we aren’t going to petition the school to let us retake it. We may even forget we have class and just not go but we will muscle through the reading and make appointments with professors to catch up. At the end of the day, we aren’t going to be the perfect students but you will never get an email from our parents excusing us from class or a last-minute email explaining why we didn’t do the homework assignment that was on the syllabus since day one and we had months to do. And speaking as a former teacher, this makes parents the best students, the favorite students, and the students every teacher wants in class.
Images: Allison Gore/Romper; Giphy(6)