THE PERILS OF MOTHERHOOD AND SCHOOLWORK                   by S.P. Marlay

originally published in the 2014 Summer Issue


“Take your finger out of your nose.”


                                                            “Don’t lick your shoe.”


"Put that down and get over here now!"


These are just a few of the things one might overhear me saying, to my incredibly active three year old son, at any given time. The role of mom is quite different from anything I could have ever imagined. Professionally I have competently trained over 5,000 people, managed sales teams, implemented strategic training plans, designed and developed courses and materials for the public and private sectors. However, none of this could have prepared me for the never-ending demands of a three year old while I have been attending Ryerson University in pursuit of a psychology degree.


I’ve always considered myself to be a well-organized individual with an innate skill for multi-tasking, but motherhood brought the term “multi-tasking” to a whole new level. I’ve heard it said that, “You don’t know what it means to be tired, until you have a child.” I used to dispute this sentiment and take offence. There were times when I would work overtime and by the end of the week I would be exhausted. Hah! What did I know about being exhausted? Nothing! Raising a toddler can be stressful too, at times, as well as tiring and extremely draining. Due to the seemingly unlimited amount of energy young children possess and their constant requests (i.e. more juice mommy, more, more!) they test your patience, your physical ability, your mental capacity and your self-control (as in“ This child is going to force me to eat a tub of Ben and Jerry’s!”). But my son is also extremely adorable and lots of fun.


I’ve been home with my son since birth and am grateful for the experience. Deciding to return to school full-time was both terrifying and exciting. I was excited about learning but terrified it would be too challenging and stressful. My first year was challenging and stressful but also mentally stimulating and inspiring. The main source of my stress was affordable daycare. Unfortunately due to a lack of available support and resources, I missed classes in order to take care of my son.


He is always right by my side, my little buddy, mimicking my keystrokes on the computer or picking up one of my books for English class and pretending to read it. He’s familiar with my campus and gets excited when I tell him, “We’re going to school!” He always says, “Yay mommy. We go to school. I go to school too.” On campus he proudly greets people and tells them he goes to school there, which always gets a chuckle.


Due to lack of childcare I had to bring him to a couple of meetings. I must say though that having an active toddler sitting on your lap while getting feedback from a professor about an assignment is not ideal. Straining to follow their words while your child says, “Mommy I want to go park now. Now mommy, now!” I have been blessed with very understanding professors who have been gracious about my plight.


I’ve also had to juggle studying while potty training. One such session went like this:

“Did you go poo?”

“No mommy.”

“Well, you smell like poo poo.”

“No mommy. Poo go bye bye.”

“Poo go bye bye?” “Yeah poo gone. Poo went to the park.”

“Really…Let me check your pull-ups.”

“No mommy no poo, poo gone.”


And so the conversation goes. There is in fact no poo in his pull-ups, just trace amounts. Yes he was correct the poo went to the park, that is, if by park he means smeared on his bedroom wall.


The key for me this year has been discipline and planning. I’ve had to plan, plan, plan and then plan some more! I’ve had to plan for the unexpected because when you have a child there is always the unexpected.


The decision to go back to school has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made next to having my son, even if it does mean being constantly interrupted when I am studying to play ball with him or wipe poo off his bedroom wall.


Please let us know what you think about this article at learningcurves@hotmail.com

Toronto, Canada