Stepping into the forest of my mind

Stepping into the forest of my mind
Just as every journey begins with a first step, every story begins with the first word.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Framing the Memoir: How Does Motherhood Fit into the College Experience?
Fall frames the world in color.
A writer friend asked me if my memoir was about how motherhood influenced me as a college student or was it how college influenced me as a mother.  While I realize that this is just one aspect of the memoir, it is a good question for it helps to frame the memoir. 

I think the memoir is more about how motherhood influenced me as a college student.  Yet the reverse can also be true.

            Let’s take the first part of the equation.  How did motherhood influence me as a college student? 

            Parenthood is a lifetime career.  It’s not something we stop doing once the children become adults—even if we wanted to.  At the time I started college, I was the primary care-giver to children in grades 2nd through 8th.  It was my job to help these children become successful in their education and any life obstacles they might encounter.  This was no easy task with my oldest daughter having learning and social problems.  I needed to be there for them. 

I took the parenting job seriously, maybe even obsessively.  I wasn’t free to think only of my own trials in education.  I had to be home for them in the beginning.  This is what made attending college so difficult in the early years of my ten-year journey.  After devoting my life to my children, I needed to allow time for college work.      

            Yet motherhood affected my college journey in other ways, too.  Because I was older, because I was a mother, sometimes I saw the wants and needs of my fellow students at the community college.  I would ask their questions in math class, study with them, help them with their essays.  My husband said that I had gained more children going to college, and perhaps he was correct.  I didn’t mind.  These young students helped me with technical difficulties and math or science concepts I hadn’t experienced recently in the basic skills classes I needed to supposedly bring me up to college entry.  My children were too young; hadn’t had this upper level education. 
            And because I was a more mature student, running her own home and family, I brought a commitment to my college education that a few of the younger students may have lacked at the community college level.  My fellow students permitted me to be the group leader in projects.

            Now because I was a mother, I brought home my newfound knowledge to my children, not that they always appreciated it, of course.  I took the notion of parents being the first teachers of their children seriously—again obsessively.  It was my job to be sure the children could survive in today’s world.  I also wanted them to be properly prepared for college as I was not.  I demonstrated time and again what professors were looking for in essays, what was necessary to study to do well on a college exam. 

            Wow!  When I look back on all this I can see why my family is glad that I graduated.  Hopefully the children will see my mothering skills as a good thing in their lives.  Only time will tell.

            What do you think?  Did I answer my friend’s question completely?  Do you have any questions for me about my journey as a mother of five attending college?