Single Moms Juggle School, Work and Home

DJ Ezell, Reporter

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The buzz of the alarm clock awakens her from a short night’s rest. It’s four in the morning and her day has to begin. Skylar Ramos is a mechanical engineering major who is completing her basics at Amarillo College.

Across town, Brittany Brazell is beginning her day at five in the morning. Brittany is a graduate student at West Texas A&M University, going for her MBA in hospital administration.

Destiny Ainsworth begins her day at six in the morning. She is a business administration major who takes online classes at Eastern New Mexico University.

The common factor for all three of these women is that they are all single mothers, who must balance taking care of their children, working to support their families, and finding time in between all of that to attend class and keep up with their class work.

Destiny, 27, is the mother of one son, with another child on the way. Her son, Dante is seven. She works about 60 hours per week. Dante’s father provides financial support, but doesn’t really contribute other than that.

Brittany, 27, is the mother to two daughters. Avary, her oldest daughter, is seven. Natalie, her youngest daughter, is four. Brittany works numerous jobs, including as a graduate assistant at WT. She works about 60 hours per week, and takes nine hours of graduate classes.

Skylar, 25, is the mother of three boys, Mateo who is seven, Moses who is four, and Mikey who is two. She had Mateo while she was still in high school. The boys’ father isn’t in the

picture. She is currently working two jobs, where she works about 70 hours per week. She is only able to take nine hours at school due to her work schedule.

“The hardest part for me is that I never get to see my boys,” said Skylar. Between her two jobs, and classes, the only time she gets to spend time with her children is for dinner and before bed. “I always try to have my homework finished before Sunday,” says Skylar. “Sunday is our day together, whether it’s just staying home and playing games, or going to the park to spend time together.”

“If I could change one thing, it would be to spend more time with my son,” said Destiny. “I realize that I am making life better for him by going to school, but it hurts when I have to tell him I can’t do something he wants to do because our funds are limited.”

“Thank God for my family,” said Brittany. “I am not sure that I could balance everything in my life without their help.”

All three women receive support in some form from their families. Skylar’s father helps her whenever he is able to. Destiny’s mother always is on hand to help her when she needs it. Brittany comes from a large family that provides support to her anyway that they can.

“I think that the biggest support that my family provides is daycare,” said Brittany. “Daycare is so expensive, so when my mom and grandma watch my girls for me, it helps by not just allowing me to get my work done, but saves me a bundle in the process.”

Sadly, too many women know the struggle of trying to raise a family and bettering their lives through education at the same time. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy and Research, “Over a quarter (26 percent) of all undergraduate students, or 4.8 million students, are raising dependent children. Women are disproportionately likely to be balancing college and

parenthood, many without the support of a spouse or partner. Women make up 71 percent of all student parents, and roughly 2 million students, or 43 percent of the total student parent population, are single mothers. Single student fathers make up 11 percent of the student parent population.”

The road ahead for single mothers is definitely an uphill battle for most. According to the Future of Children organization, “Parenting students who are not married while they are enrolled tend to complete four-year degrees at rates far lower than other college students, on average. Among all students who started college in 1995–96, 29 percent attained a bachelor’s degree by 2001, compared with just under 5 percent of unmarried parents.”

Skylar intends to be one of the five percent who do complete their degrees. “I hope that my children learn from how hard I work, that they can accomplish anything they want to in the world, as long as they work hard,” said Skylar.

“I want my daughters to be proud of their mother,” said Brittany. “When they are old enough to understand what I have done for them, I want them to think ‘my mother was strong’.”

“I want my son to learn that he can do anything he sets his mind to,” said Destiny. “I want him to learn that the world doesn’t owe him anything. He is going to have to work hard to get what he wants, and I hope I am a good example for him.”

Skylar wants other single mothers who are reluctant to go to school to know that, although it is hard, their lives will be so much better in the long run.

Brittany, too, has a message for other single mothers: don’t ever give up because they can do this, just like she can.

Destiny would like other single mothers to know that the struggle is worth it. The journey begins with a single footstep, and the sooner you begin, the quicker you finish.

Brittany’s mantra is simple; I can do this. No matter what problems life may throw her way, she just repeats, I can do this. She doesn’t feel being a single mother is any more difficult than any other job in the world, just one you take more pride in the finished product. “The main thing that I want to teach my children is that there is nothing in this world they can’t accomplish,” said Brittany. “I can do this.”

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Single Moms Juggle School, Work and Home