It’s not the happiest topic, what with Valentine’s Day around the corner and all.
Divorce. If deadlines and dead end jobs weren’t enough, many of the Non-Trads I’ve met have been through divorce recently. I’ve been in the situation myself and I’ve decided it’s not the worst boat to sail in, just an uncomfortable one.
Last year at this time, I was a leisurely attacking college from my four bedroom house, tucked away in a little cul-de-sac, cooking and sewing and hot glueing Big Hunk’s to a monstrosity of Valentines madness that my neighbor and I had cooked up for giggles. Think Madonna’s cone bra from the eighties and you’ll get the idea...
Unexpectedly, my world tipped on it’s side and I spent the Fall semester fighting to keep my head above water, adjusting to my new life. My new “normal” isn’t cooking and sewing. I don’t even know where that machine is hiding in storage actually. I throw dinner together in 30 minutes, if that, and (gasp) have actually served my four kids cereal while I ran off to my bedroom with a granola bar where I’ve managed to stuff my office into the corner. My four bedroom house is a three bedroom apartment, but I’m betting if you’re divorced then you probably know how much went out the door with your old spouse, and you don’t need me to remind you.
There are particular challenges that I have that my younger contemporaries aren’t facing like:
- Late nights that can’t start till after bedtime
- Missing class over sick kids
- Assignments that take up more time than I have between work and kids
- The leftover depression that makes it hard to leave the house some days
- The dishes, laundry, grocery shopping and other errands that I simply never have an extra hand with etc.,etc., etc.
It's enough to make me want to chuck a Big Hunk into a crowd of fresh faced 18 yr. olds. But, I don’t. Instead, I’ve learned to be grateful. Beyond grateful actually. I made a little room for hope and self discovery too.
There are a few reasons I’m doing well despite my particular recent challenges. First, I’ve chosen a mentor on campus that I speak to when I find I’m really starting to struggle. I admit to myself that the sleepless nights will pass, and I embrace them like I do the coffee I gulp down to contend with them. I plan for the big things, and I let the little ones fall to the wayside. I stop worrying about missing an occasional class just to stay in the good graces of a professor whose face I will never see again come May.
Yep, I said that. Despite what ‘they’ tell you, attendance is actually optional. Ask my 3.89 G.P.A. from last semester. It will tell you that I only attended about 70% of my classes. It doesn’t mean you can afford to skip assignments or forego studying. So choose to be where you need to be and let the guilt go. Sometimes,someone notices that my 4-year-old is missing shoes, and points it out to me while I run into the store searching for the poster board my son barely told me he needed the night before. I shout “Love and Logic” and walk on by. Fun, by all means, don’t forget the fun! Every other weekend, when my past picks up my kids, I leave the books on the counter and let down my hair. Be it a long bath, a night out, or catching up on shows I used to watch.
Finally, I seek out any and all resources. I found help with daycare costs and a flexible daycare provider. I go to tutors if I need it. I have friends who will lend an ear to a vent about a ten page paper due on Friday and assigned on Monday. And on Valentines Day, I’m dating my kids. My friend and I are sporting pearls and red lipstick and actually breaking out the cookie sheets in bonified “normal” mom style.
Contributed by Staff Writer: Gina Davidson
Gina studies Professional and Technical Writing/Computer Science at Utah State University. She is a working mom of four, mother to a child with autism, divorced, over 30, and fabulous.