“How do you do it?” –Has been one of the first things people ask me when they hear that I’m both a graduate student and a singe mom. I have two children, currently ages 10 & 12. I am also in my 3rd year as a graduate student. Every semester, I have been taking three graduate courses and teaching two courses (on my own because the program I’m in requires you create your own syllabus, take care of your own grading etc). I therefore teach 50 students every semester. Any they have the audacity to complain on their course reviews that I couldn’t even remember their names. I have to remember birthdays, grades, vacation days, picture day, two different pick-up/drop-off times, teacher’s names, grades, snack day, laundry days, and I could go on and on and on.
As parents, of course, we know the challenge all too well. Having to synchronize different people’s calendars and schedules and who is going to do what. I don’t have a second pair of arms to help with the load, and in addition there’s graduate school which is an entire monster on it’s own. There are other egos, expectations, work load, deadlines, and just plain bullshit to deal with.
And still, I want to come home and hug my children as tight as I can because some days I don’t know how even I do it.
That’s the answer, sometimes I don’t want to do it and I cry and I scream and I curse everyone that thinks that they know everything about me enough to criticize my parenting or criticize my work habits or criticize the way I walk…they don’t pay my bills nor do they even ask my how my kids are doing.
How I do it, is that I turn papers in that I have worked days and hours on. Papers that no one else will read, not even my children, only to have professors who care less about me than they do their own work, tell me that its not good enough…
Don’t ask me how I do “it” because clearly, its not fucking good enough.
This little question is one of the most condescending things you can ask me at this point. As if it were impossible for anyone else to do what I do. That is, wake up at 6 am get myself ready, wake my kids up at 7am, then get them to school at 8am, and myself to the class I teach at 9am. Your students expect X from you, your professors require some other SUPER important expectation, fellow graduate students with their own shit, your family doesn’t understand and judges you in their own way or accuse you of think that you are a “creida” or that you act like you are too good now that you are a “professional”. As if I could be a professional with a Virgen de Guadalupe on my entire forearm.
The only ones that don’t seem to expect anything from me, or hate me (yet) are my dear children.
As a non-traditional undergraduate student, I wouldn’t get home until 9pm sometimes because I wanted to be included in meetings. Of course, not in my undergrad, nor in graduate school do I find anyone who can relate. As a single-mother, graduate student of color, a woman, from a migrant, “working class” background (which I don’t even know if my family meets that criteria), whose father was undocumented, who has faced childhood trauma, I have felt my labor, friendship, and identity abused and mistreated. It has seemed like a race to the top on the backs of others.
Somedays, I can’t wait to get home to the craziness of my house. Even if I do have to clean, wash floors, dishes, sinks, toilets, clothes, windows, shit from underwear…I would prefer that than to see the insensitive remarks from professors and students about the work I toiled over, the work I’ve cried over, the work that took time away from my children. So when people ask me how I “do it”, I have doubt’s as to whether they actually know what they are asking.
Nor do I think anyone REALLY cares about how I “do it”. They just care that I do. Then again, there are people that hate that I can do “it” and they don’t do “it” or anything similar to “it”, and those people I think wish I didn’t.
Today, I don’t go to events because I refuse to not make my children a home cooked meal, even if that means that I won’t be “seen” at the department meetings, gatherings, or other events. Usually held at bars or definitely after 6pm, graduate students like to socialize and of course, I can’t do that either. Either that, or the events include green jello shots and don’t forget the wine…there is wine everywhere in academia! My son even tells me that when he grows up, he is only going to drink wine because that’s what academics drink.
I’m only calling academics out because I don’t feel like one of them because there are very few spaces in which people are encouraged to bring the kids and I don’t want to answer any fucking questions about where their dad is and whether he sees them or not.
How does that have any weight on the merit of my writing and research? How does that affect my scholarship and intellectual contributions to the program, our professional relationships, or anything in general. If I wanted you to know you would know.
Please don’t ask me how I “do it”, unless you actually fucking care to listen and understand why its so fucking crazy that I don’t want to add to the crazyness by not talking about how I do “it”. Unless you actually care about my motherhood, and unless you truly care about my children.
I am not here to make you feel better about your mediocrity.
How I do “it”, is not much different than how you do “it”, except I get more shit done because I’m raising two kids by myself. This is only the beginning.
Fuck this system.
Fuck the ventajos@s.
Fuck everything that isn’t good.
Y asi esta la cosa.