Twenty-one and married with child

Your six-week old baby has been crying since 8 p.m. She’s going through her six-week growth spurt where she needs to be continually feeding – from you, you’re the one with the breasts – and it’s now three in the morning and she’s still hungry, which means she’s still crying for more milk. Meanwhile you have a midterm that morning and you’ve been trying to study, but feeding, burping, changing and soothing your baby doesn’t leave a lot of time for serious midterm cramming.You also have an essay due the next day and an article due that Friday, where you need to make time to set up interviews and settle your baby down before dragging her along with you to all of them. During the interview, your baby begins to scream, making your interviewee uncomfortable.

You end up just passing your midterm exam, handing in your English essay late, and throwing together your article just to make the due date. Is it safe to say that I feel divided?

I am 21, married and already have a little one, which were all goals in life, but all came a lot sooner than anticipated. For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a journalist, another goal in my life. When my daughter, Carly, came along, I knew I still needed to go back to school or I would regret not giving it a try.

My schedule for last semester at school worked out to two days a week.  If I had classes every day of the week, I couldn’t have gone to school. Being a mom takes time and concentration away from schoolwork. Either way I am not putting 100 per cent of myself into either one.

Tara Hay is another mom who goes to St. Thomas University. She has two daughters and still goes to school full time.

“I am happy to be doing something for me for once,” she said.

Hay’s day starts at 5 a.m. and doesn’t stop until her children go to bed that night.

“We get home at three, but I am busy with them and housework. My kids go to bed at 7 p.m., usually I’m too tired to do school work, but I try to get whatever needs to be done for the next day then.”

She said STU has no support systems or childcare – she really wishes it did.

“There are no programs for a person in my situation. I get a student loan, but that is it.”

The Victoria Order of Nurses (V.O.N.) has a program called “Healthy Baby and Me” – classes designed to help young mothers develop skills to raise a healthy baby. It’s a program that also helps young moms not feel alone. Young moms in Fredericton can also ask public health to send a nurse every two weeks to your home to check up on you and your baby.

Through the New Brunswick government, there are low-income programs designed to help financially, but only as much as $60 a month. With only my husband working while I attend school, we have taken advantage of all of these programs.

I always want to do what’s best for Carly and my family. When I think about what’s best for the future, it would be going to school and finishing my degree; but when I think about the present it would be staying home with Carly. For Hay, it’s doing what is best for her at this point in her life. She needs to finish school so she can feel fulfilled.

Hay told me going back to school finally made her happy, making her a better mom, which made her children happier. As for me, I do wish I could be with my daughter all the time, but I know I want to be able to give Carly a good life and if I can take the next year-and-a-half and finish school, I can help give her that.

Being a mom and watching my daughter learn and grow every day is one of the most rewarding jobs you can have. I know that if I had to spend anymore than two days a week away from her, I wouldn’t be able to do it emotionally. Going to school and being a mom is emotionally and physically draining, but with the right programs, nurses, professors and family helping me out, I know I can do it. I want to finish school for her.

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