Welcome back, friends! It is nice to see you again. When we last had a conversation I let you know what brought me to this wonderful campus to study music education. This time, I’ll take you through what it is like to be a scholar and a parent simultaneously at UIUC.
This is not going to be a sweet post about how wonderfully balanced my life is as both a student and a mom. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great life, but balancing student-life and mom-life is a STRUGGLE that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic
My kiddo, Frankie, is 5 years old and has just started kindergarten...online. Every day, we get up, have breakfast, and go right back to his room to “go to school”. We work together each day, for far too many hours a day, to learn new phonograms, exercise our newly found reading skills, and review new vocabulary words both in English and in Spanish. While this is happening, I am doing my very best to further my research, have meetings with advisors, and be sure that the kid has all of the necessary worksheets for the day.
That said, I could never be successful in this program without the help of my professors. The amount of grace that they have shown during times of COVID has created such a supportive environment for all students to thrive.
After one insanely stressful morning where Frankie was learning about contractions (remember, he’s in kindergarten) and I was trying to talk through the methodology chapter of my dissertation (I don’t remember much of this conversation), we decided that we needed to pause from the learning and be twins in our Illini gear. Knowing that it was a struggle to focus, we took pictures of each other to refocus and sent them to both his teachers and my research director as a reminder that we were still smiling, that we were going to make it through this!
Moral of the story: this is a tough, but amazing program, and pursuing it as a mom of a young kiddo is a huge challenge. The best thing about it - knowing that there are people in my corner here at UIUC. That is just one of the things that makes this program special.