A few years ago when I turned 21, I decided to return to education to complete my leaving cert as I left school at 16 and never did it. With a one-year old and two-year old at home, I knew it would be difficult but I also knew I had to do it for them and for me.
The 2 years in Liberty College were two of the most challenging, exhausting but also rewarding years of my life. The support I received from both the teachers in Liberties and my family and friends was amazing, I never would have gotten through it otherwise.
Being a mother and a student was far from easy. I got up at 5am most days to do homework and study before the kids woke up because by the time they went to bed at night I was too exhausted, mentally and physically.
The exhaustion was the hardest part by far. Coming home already mentally drained at the end of a long day and having to look after kids, cook a dinner and clean the house completely drained me. That paired with the fact that they still didn’t sleep through the night at that age meant that for two years my body was 99% coffee (now it’s only 90%!).
There were also other challenges unique to a mother in education such as Ciara having a massive asthma attack and ending up in hospital for a week. At the end of that week I happened to have my French Oral for the Leaving Cert. Having barely slept or eaten all week, my French teacher very kindly picked me up at Crumlin Children's Hospital and dropped me back when I was finished. Aside from having a huge breakdown in the middle of the exam and bursting into tears (the examiner knew what was happening and was very understanding), I managed to get some French out and ended up getting a B1 in French in the end!
All of the hard work and time I put in to the leaving cert paid off and I came out with 3 A’s ad 3 B’s. The kids very quickly got used to mammy doing her homework and I signed up to the Third Level Access Course for a year in Plunket College to help me in my progression to third level.
I had a very challenging year ahead of my at Plunkets. This time along with studying and homework, I was also writing assignments. In the February Josh was hospitalised and diagnosed with type one diabetes. Once again I faced having to keep on top of college work, look after the kids, visit Josh in hospital and help him adjust to his new lifestyle. It wasn’t easy but I got through it and graduated from Plunkets with 9 distinctions.
After leaving Plunkets, I decided to apply to study as a second level teacher in DCU. I was over the moon when I got accepted and I started DCU last September. Of course I got the usual shocked looks and I can’t believe you have two kids when I started but I quickly made friends with some other mature students and I was loving college life (as much as a mother can lol). That was until I began struggling to keep up.
I soon began spending less time with Josh and the kids and more time in college or sitting at the computer doing assignments. It got to the stage where between lectures, assignments and lesson plans I barely saw the kids at all and they started to act out because of it.
I woke up every day with a feeling of dread – knowing how much college work I had to do or that a deadline was fast approaching. I was stressed out, exhausted and just completely miserable. After a few weeks of feeling that way I decided enough was enough, I had to put my kids and my own mental health first so I dropped out.
Although it was a really tough decision to make especially putting in 3 years of work to make it that far, I don’t regret it for a minute. My kids are still too young for me to miss out on the important things and not be there.
I will return to college one day when they are older and for now who knows what life has in store, but I’m sure being a mother to two amazing kids and now a MummyPages Voices writer I’ll have plenty to keep me on my feet!