I’m writing this post while typing a short bio for 3MT. I’m struggling with telling or not a diaper joke in the three sentences I have to describe myself. Because I like to make things fun, but I also realized just now how important it is for me to stress that I am a mother in a Ph.D. program.
It’s not because I want applause or because it is incredibly difficult to have a family life while doing graduate studies. In fact, the flexibility of my schedule makes me quite happy to have young children now in my life – although I now know a lot of parents-students struggling with all the responsibilities they have. Since I had the chance to have paid maternity leave twice, a scholarship, and my parents close, making family-study conciliation is easier for me than for a lot of people.
The real reason I want to scream out loud that yes, being a mother (mom/mooooom/maman) in grad studies is a reality is that I don’t think it is widely known. As I often say, I discovered that I was pregnant more or less six hours before I read my acceptance letter from McGill. I was afraid/ excited by my pregnancy, and really happy about starting on a Ph.D. journey. But I was certain, absolutely certain, that my supervisor would say to me, «great for you… but I don’t want you anymore, too much trouble.» I remember shaking when I wrote to her. And all that because I never ever heard about a young mother in graduate studies. Correction: about a young mother in undergraduate, graduate or teacher position. On the other side, I had a fairly good idea of what a mother is on the job market (including losing her job).
Is it the most important thing to talk about right now? Probably, certainly not. There are a lot of other concerns that need to be addressed in a more pressing way. But even if it is not a top priority, it can’t be bad to talk about the diversity of the student’s situation, parenting issues included.
So yes, you will still hear about my two boys. Not because I want applause. Not because I am proud of them and they are the best children in the world (I mean, I am proud and they are the best and I have millions of pictures if you want to see them), but simply because I hope that me writing about this can make other people realize that they do not have put aside dream of graduation because of pregnancy. They are good sides – and a lot pretty bad sides too – but you definitely can have children while at school.
If so, you should definitely know about Family Care Program. You are not alone.
Banner picture by @fanidee // @gradlifemcgill