It might have been Beyonce I saw in the early noughties (it also might not have been), who I saw on a budget documentary, making her way into another facet of her career, talking excitedly about how she was now able to add ‘slashes’ to her name. She wasn’t just a singer, she was singer SLASH actress SLASH producer. I might not be Beyonce (I actually don’t get the love. Sorry blogosphere, I just don’t) but I do have slashes to my name.
I am Fee. Mother slash student slash fiancée slash local editor.It’s fucking hard.
Any one of these things is inherently difficult, but the more you team them together the more you have to sacrifice bits of each. I have had to create a little hierarchy of roles in my head. Some of the placements are time dependent and might change because of deadlines, but that doesn’t stop the guilt. I mean, how do I justify moving ‘mother’ down a peg because I’ve got something to sort out at work? Or some reading to do for University? And in all honesty, I have to move that role down a couple of times a day. Here, kids. Take these crayons. Let me go through my work emails.
The toughest combination is that of mother and student. Other students can finish class at 2pm, get home and crack the books open. I have to leave university, I have just over an hour journey home, pick up at least one child, do the dishes from breakfast time, put a load of washing on, play with at least one child (depending on who has control of Netflix at the time), make dinner, eat dinner, bath at least one child, do homework with one, read stories to the other, get one off to bed, clean the kitchen, make tomorrow’s breakfast and lunch, do the third set of dishes, put away the dry clothes from the last lot of washing, hang up the new lot, get the other child off to bed, tidy away the toys from the day, tell big child it’s time to turn her tab off, get bag ready for the next day – and that makes it 9pm. I leave at 6am 3 days a week so I try to be in bed as close to 9 as possible to avoid getting ill. Very often I find myself sacrificing personal hygiene in order to actually get my required reading done, let alone anything extra. Other students also have weekends: at the moment we take one day each (Jay is a first year student too) to lock ourselves in the bedroom and have the other watch the kids, unless there’s an assignment coming up. Of course, being a student means the ‘fiancée’ slash suffers greatly too. Oh and add ‘home-maker'(if that’s still a thing) in there because what do I sacrifice to make time to clean the bathroom, change the cat litter, change the bedding, polish the shelving, etc etc etc?
A massive problem of mine has been guilt. I felt guilty when I snapped at my children because I was trying to power through my work and they were getting too excitable with eachother. I felt guilty when I realised every grade so far has been a B: all this sacrifice and I’m not *quite* good enough for an A each time. I felt guilty when I looked at the spreadsheet at work and saw that 90% of people had finished something before me. I felt guilty when I looked back over the previous week and didn’t remember any moments of quality time with my fiancé. But having slashes (not peeing) means learning to accept guilt and appreciate transience. These opportunities won’t be there forever, and you have to think about which moments you’ll be saddest to have missed.
Okay, so I didn’t get an A. I took my kids to the park instead. So the dishes wait until the morning. I’m going to have a cup of tea and a chat with my fiancé instead.
Do you have slashes in your name? How do you cope?!