On Being a Student-Mother, or Simply a Woman

Updated: Apr 10

** Warning: This piece is on gender equality. May be triggering so decide accordingly**

This morning, I woke up at 5:30AM to get ready for my last class of the semester, which takes place 6AM on Friday mornings every other week. This practicum has been running for almost a year, and I absolutely love what it brings in and out of me. It teaches me how to do my part in supporting schools founded on compassion and understanding, it teaches me about how to become a better mother, it teaches me about the simple respect for one another despite our differences. It also teaches me that supportive, loving women circles do exist. It runs for 2 hours straight. So by the time it finishes, my kids are already out of the house, and well on their way to school. Who’s responsible for the kids during this time? My loving husband. I am so grateful for my partner in so many aspects of my life, father of my children, my confidante and anchor.

After class, as I poured myself an ice-cold coffee, I suddenly felt guilty for having such a quiet house to myself. I felt guilty for having had 2 hours of uninterruptedness of my favorite class. I imagined my husband frantically taking care of the kids from waking them up to preparing breakfast to changing their clothes and just hauling ass while I joyfully meditated with my teacher and colleagues, followed by a luscious cup of brewed coffee. Yes, we don’t have help at home. It’s just the four of us, plus 4 other animal babies.

As guilt came up, comments from other people in the past started circulating in my mind. Wow, your husband is so amazing for doing this. He’s okay with it? He lets you go to school? That's unheard of. Still learning to practice nonjudgement, I allowed the feelings to come up - breathing into the tightening of my heart.

Then, I came straight back to my laptop. My heart needed to be heard.  

Since I got into my grad program, It’s funny that the first thing many respond with after asking what I've been up to is a quick dismissive congratulations followed by a lingering 5-minute guilt-trip on the “poor husband of mine.” How is he doing? They ask. You’re so lucky, he’s so supportive of you. Sometimes they feel the need to go further. How are the kids handling it? It must so hard on them. For a while, I used to immediately agree with their statements, justifying how great my husband is and how insane this arrangement has been for my kids. But as time passed, I started getting angry at myself because that’s not what’s happening nor how I truly see it.

Of course I am lucky. I’m grateful, and continue to be grateful, for my partner no matter what. In my mind, we are a team - as parents, for the business that we've built together, for our own individual families - with everything in life. Sure, we've made many big mistakes along the way, but we continue to make it work as we grow together on this life journey. I got so upset thinking about my conditioned response as well as the conditioned questioning of others. Why is a mother, let alone a woman, required to ask permission to enjoy what fills her heart, especially if it’s for the greater good of her family?

Why is a mother, let alone a woman, required to ask permission to enjoy what fills her heart, especially if it’s for the greater good of her family?