by Dawn Thompson, Head Editor, INALJ Ohio
MLIS and Motherhood
While attending graduate school my partner and I decided to try and have our first baby. We’d seen lots of friends go through the process and figured that we’d have just as much if not more trouble so we didn’t need to worry too much about my getting pregnant while still in school. We were wrong; I got pregnant during my third quarter. I had my daughter in May and took summer quarter off to recover and baby-moon. Everyone told me not to take any time off, ‘you’ll never go back’ they said, ‘you’ll miss her too much!’ They were right, I did miss her but there was no chance that I wouldn’t go back, it never crossed my mind because I was determined to earn my MLIS. So after many days and nights of staring at her face and holding her little hands I loaded up my backpack, wiped my tears and headed off to get my degree while she slept safely at home with her other mom.
While being a mom and doing much of anything is difficult going back to school is one thing that shouldn’t be. Library Science programs, heck Graduate and Undergraduate programs for that matter, should do all they can to help moms and dads reach their goals.
So what’s the point? The point is that yes Dorothy there is a wizard behind that curtain and the wizard is YOU! If you want to earn your MLIS, if you want to get your MBA, MFA, BA, BS, AA go for it. That little baby will be so proud!
Luckily for me, I wasn’t in the need of child care. I had a convenient evening program that was nearby, on Ohio State’s campus at the time, so I was pretty much set without the obstacles many parents face when it’s time to hit the books. It’s not that easy for everyone and I was surprised to see how few colleges and universities offer on-site daycare or other help for parents. I guess that’s why most people choose distance learning instead of actually spending any time on campus. Wouldn’t it be nice if colleges and universities were more accommodating, especially graduate programs? If you thought before having a baby that completing assignments, meeting with others for group work, or getting to a prof’s office for office hours was hard before imagine doing it with someone strapped to your back.
Some educational institutions are making it easier. Lactation rooms for pumping or breast feeding, on campus childcare, and on campus family housing is becoming common place. At Wilson College in Pennsylvania they offer an on campus women’s health center as well as day care options. They even offer housing with rooms for both parent(s) as well as baby. Schools like St. Paul’s College in Virginia offer mentors to parents who are trying to do it all. The website educationdepartment.org has information for you as well. Browsing the site helped me find out that over 5 colleges in my state offer on campus day care! And of course many institutions offer online courses. If none of these works for you know that there are people and places willing to help if you are willing to look and ask for it.
I say go for it. Getting a degree, any degree is invaluable! The skills you acquire in your program will allow you to provide that kiddo of yours a great life. And it goes without saying that you’ll get a nice little break, and you’ll definitely need a break, when it’s time to go to class.