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The lived experience of student mothers Dalian, Evelyn 1998

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THE LIVED EXPERIENCE OF STUDENT MOTHERS by EVELYN DALIAN B.A., The University of British Columbia, 1987 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Counselling Psychology) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard (\yrt UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August 1998 ©Evelyn Hilde Dalian, 1998 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writ ten permission. The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Department DE-6 (2/88) ii ABSTRACT T h i s s t u d y e x p l o r e d what i t i s l i k e t o be a s t u d e n t and a mother a t t h e same time by u s i n g a p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l approach t o i d e n t i f y and d e s c r i b e the p r o c e s s e s by w h i c h seven und e r g r a d u a t e s t u d e n t mothers make meaning out of t h e i r e v e r y d a y l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e . As p a r t o f a l a r g e r s t u d y on s t r e s s and c o p i n g , each woman was i n t e r v i e w e d and the i n t e r v i e w s a n a l y z e d f o r common themes and meanings. A f o l l o w - u p i n t e r v i e w s e r v e d t o c o n f i r m o r c l a r i f y t h e summary of each i n i t i a l i n t e r v i e w . The themes t h a t emerged from t h i s s t u d y a r e t h a t s t u d e n t mothers' l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e (a) i n v o l v e s h a v i n g t o f a c e c o n f l i c t i n g demands, (b) l e a d s t o f e e l i n g s o f g u i l t and inadequacy, (c) i n d u c e s h e l p l e s s n e s s and f r u s t r a t i o n , (d) f o s t e r s a l i e n a t i o n and d i s c o n n e c t i o n , (e) c o n t r i b u t e s t o s e l f -n e g l e c t , (f) encompasses anger, resentment, and q u e s t i o n i n g of t h e s t a t u s quo, (g) f a c i l i t a t e s r e - d e f i n i t i o n o f s e l f as mother, s e l f as s t u d e n t , t h e r o l e o f f a m i l y and f r i e n d s , and/or th e r o l e of t h e u n i v e r s i t y , and (h) e i t h e r s t r e n g t h e n s o r weakens the woman. These r e s u l t s add t o the u n d e r s t a n d i n g of t h i s p a r t i c u l a r s t u d e n t p o p u l a t i o n , and o f f e r recommendations f o r c o u n s e l l i n g a g e n c i e s and p o l i c y makers a l i k e . i i i TABLE OF CONTENTS A b s t r a c t i i Ta b l e o f C o n t e n t s i i i Acknowledgments v Poem - On B e i n g a Student Mom i v CHAPTER I 1 INTRODUCTION 1 R a t i o n a l e F o r t h e Study l H i s t o r i c a l Background 2 The R e s e a r c h Q u e s t i o n 4 C o n c e p t u a l Framework 5 Scope, L i m i t a t i o n s , and I m p l i c a t i o n s 8 CHAPTER II 10 LITERATURE REVIEW 10 I n t r o d u c t i o n 10 Student Mothers 10 Motherhood. . 17 Studenthood 2 0 CHAPTER III 23 METHODOLOGY 23 Re s e a r c h D e s i g n 23 P l a c i n g t h e R e s e a r c h e r 25 P a r t i c i p a n t s 27 R e c r u i t m e n t and Sampling P r o c e d u r e 28 P a r t i c i p a n t C r i t e r i a 28 Proc e d u r e 2 9 S e l e c t i o n P r o c e d u r e 29 The I n t e r v i e w 3 0 Data A n a l y s i s 32 SUMMARY 3 7 CHAPTER IV 3 8 RESULTS 38 DESCRIPTION OF EACH PARTICIPANT 38 Emma 3 8 I r e n e 4 0 Joanne 41 Marianne 44 Mary 46 Sarah 4 7 T a r a 50 EMERGING THEMES 52 THE COMMON STORY 53 THE LIVED EXPERIENCE OF STUDENT MOTHERS 57 The L i v e d E x p e r i e n c e Of Student Mothers I n v o l v e s H a v i n g To Face C o n f l i c t i n g Demands58 The L i v e d E x p e r i e n c e Of Student Mothers Leads To F e e l i n g s Of G u i l t And Inadequacy..63 The L i v e d E x p e r i e n c e Of Student Mothers Induces H e l p l e s s n e s s And F r u s t r a t i o n 70 The L i v e d E x p e r i e n c e Of Student Mothers F o s t e r s A l i e n a t i o n And D i s c o n n e c t i o n 74 The L i v e d E x p e r i e n c e Of Student Mothers C o n t r i b u t e s To S e l f N e g l e c t 78 The L i v e d E x p e r i e n c e Of Student Mothers Encompasses Anger, Resentment, And Q u e s t i o n i n g Of The S t a t u s Quo 81 The L i v e d E x p e r i e n c e Of Student Mothers F a c i l i t a t e s R e - d e f i n i t i o n Of: S e l f As Mother ...86 S e l f As Student 88 The R o l e Of F a m i l y And F r i e n d s 90 The R o l e Of The U n i v e r s i t y 92 The L i v e d E x p e r i e n c e Of Student Mothers E i t h e r S t r e n g t h e n s Or Weakens The Woman's Sense Of Agency 95 C H A P T E R V 99 DISCUSSION OF RESULTS AND CONCLUSION 99 INTRODUCTION 99 MULTIPLE ROLES 100 COMPETING URGENCIES 101 IMPLICATIONS FOR RESEARCH AND PRACTICE 106 CONCLUSION 108 R E F E R E N C E S I l l A P P E N D I C E S 117 A. INFORMED CONSENT 117 B . DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION 118 C. INITIAL TELEPHONE PROTOCOL 119 D. INTERVIEW PROTOCOL. 120 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Throughout t h e l o n g p r o c e s s of f i n d i n g t h e a p p r o p r i a t e method o f a n a l y s i s , and d o i n g t h e a c t u a l r e s e a r c h f o r t h i s m a s ter's t h e s i s , I have r e c e i v e d s u p p o r t and gu i d a n c e from a number o f p e o p l e . Those I name here have c o n t r i b u t e d g r e a t l y t o i t s s u c c e s s f u l c o m p l e t i o n . I w i s h t o thank Dr. B o n i t a Long, my s u p e r v i s o r , f o r a l l o w i n g me t o t a p i n t o h e r s t u d y f o r my d a t a . Her p a t i e n c e and su p p o r t , g u i d a n c e and c o n s t r u c t i v e c r i t i c i s m , as w e l l as h e r en t h u s i a s m and b e l i e f i n t h e v a l u e of t h i s work has g r e a t l y encouraged and h e l p e d me. I a l s o would l i k e t o thank my committee members, Dr. Ta n n i s MacBeth, and Dr. J u d i t h D a n i l u k f o r c r i t i q u i n g my m a n u s c r i p t and g i v i n g me feedback and h e l p f u l s u g g e s t i o n s . A d d i t i o n a l l y , a h e a r t f e l t thank you t o Dr. MacBeth who has been a r o l e model and a f r i e n d t o me throu g h o u t t h e y e a r s . T h i s r e s e a r c h would not have been what i t i s w i t h o u t the many d i s c u s s i o n s w i t h , and s u g g e s t i o n s from t h e members of the l a r g e r s t r e s s and c o p i n g s t u d y , esp.: Dr. C h r i s L o v a t o , Dr. J i m F r a n k i s h , A l l i s o n S e a r s , and J e n n i f e r N i c o l , who have p a t i e n t l y a l l o w e d me t o c o n t r a s t my way of l o o k i n g a t t h e d a t a w i t h t h e i r s , and t h e r e b y c l a r i f y i n g my view. A b i g thank you! I a l s o w i s h t o thank Dr. A l l i s o n Tom, and Dr. Max VanManen, who have made phenomenology as p a l a t a b l e as p o s s i b l e . And f i n a l l y , I want t o thank the women who p a r t i c i p a t e d i n t h i s s t u d y f o r t h e i r w i l l i n g n e s s t o share t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e s . M y role as a parent is very important to me, and my role as a student is also very important to me, so it's very hard to make choices! It's important to me to be a good mother but there's more to me than that. ...it's a juggling act - one conflicts with the other. The student life requires more introspection, more focus, and the family life is always conflicting with that. I want to do well, otherwise, what's the point, but there doesn't seem to be enough room in my head for everything, not enough hours in the day, not enough energy, not enough money. I'm not there for my child, I'm letting her down, 'Mommy will play with you later'. I'm not a good student, and I'm not a good parent, I'm a failure as a human being! If one part of the system breaks down, the rest goes too. We've run out of money, but there's no room to negotiate. I thought I was doing the right thing, but I hear voices saying I'm a drain on society, What is she doing here? Why doesn't she just go home? Don't want to give them an excuse to say, oh, she's just a mother. Survival of the fittest! How can you go from being an honor's student to barely passing? I AM one of the fittest! I didn't just wake up stupid one day! Scholarships go to those who get the marks, who have volunteer experience, But all the demands, how will we survive, is this still a positive in my life? I feel like I'm just a big weed, and they're trying to get me out. My daughter, I don't want her to grow up ignorant, like me. But I'm sticking in here, I'm NOT giving up,. I was told I had to fight. I'm tired of fighting. When they look at me and say, YOU made the choice, I can't sleep, I'm thinking: did I...? How will I...? I'm thinking to myself: yes, but You have the problem And my marks are slipping and my child is acting out, That's just too bad that I couldn't write the exam, I'm not who I want to be, and who I know I could be, There's nothing I could do, my child had the flu, I see no one else who is struggling like me. I was up with her all night, My schedule's ridiculous, my health goes downhill, And still, I have to light not to feel responsible, all right. The joy of learning is gone, I can do what I will, I know they expect me to do just as well, even if I just had the night from hell, If I'm forced to give up, an important part of me will die, A voice inside me says: you're their mother, its up to you! But I have no support, and I don't know how or why. And the university, too, demands its due. Maybe they're right, I should stay home and be a mom, I constantly have to talk myself through my degree, It's all up to me, I must carry the can. Something's got to give, and it can't only be M E ! This poem was constructed from student mothers' own words. 1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION ^ Rationale For The Study Today, more women t h a n e v e r pursue a u n i v e r s i t y e d u c a t i o n . Among u n d e r g r a d u a t e s t u d e n t s i n Canada, more t h a n 50% a r e women, and 61% of p a r t - t i m e s t u d e n t s a r e women ( S t a t i s t i c s Canada, 1997). A t t h e same tim e , t h e mean age o f s t u d e n t s has i n c r e a s e d . By t h e mid 1990s, almost one h a l f of a l l p o s t s e c o n d a r y s t u d e n t s were 25 y e a r s and ov e r (Foot & Stoffmann, 1996) and i n Canada, more t h a n 25% o f p a r t - t i m e s t u d e n t s a r e 39 y e a r s o r o l d e r ( S t a t i s t i c s Canada, 1996). F o r reasons o f p r i v a c y and because i t i s g e n e r a l l y not deemed r e l e v a n t t o u n i v e r s i t y a d m i n i s t r a t i o n s ( P e r s o n a l communication, Budget and P l a n n i n g , U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1997), no o f f i c i a l d a t a about s t u d e n t s ' p a r e n t a l s t a t u s i s a v a i l a b l e . I t seems r e a s o n a b l e t o assume, however, t h a t t h e number of s t u d e n t s , and i n p a r t i c u l a r women s t u d e n t s w i t h c h i l d r e n , has i n c r e a s e d o v e r t h e y e a r s as w e l l . L i t t l e i s known about t h e e x p e r i e n c e s of women who combine the p u r s u i t of a p o s t secondary degree and o f motherhood. The e x p e r i e n c e s o f mothers i n t h e p a i d work f o r c e and i t s e f f e c t s on home and f a m i l y have been e x p l o r e d (Dornbusch & S t r o b e r , 1988; Phoenix, W o o l l e t t , & L l o y s , 1991; Swiss & Walker, 1993), however, o n l y a meager body o f r e s e a r c h about mothers who a r e i n 2 g r a d u a t e programs can be found (David, Edwards, Hughes, & Ribbens, 1993; S w i f t , C o l v i n , & M i l l s , 1987), and a r e a l d e a r t h of i n f o r m a t i o n on und e r g r a d u a t e 'student moms' e x i s t s (Edwards, 1993). Because e d u c a t i o n i s one of the s t r o n g e s t p r e d i c t o r s of an i n d i v i d u a l ' s a c c e s s t o o c c u p a t i o n s t h a t o f f e r autonomy and a u t h o r i t y i n t h e w o r k p l a c e ( S t a t i s t i c s Canada, 1997), t h e r e i s a need f o r more knowledge about the e x p e r i e n c e of b e i n g a s t u d e n t and a mother a t t h e same t i m e . H i s t o r i c a l Background The ' i d e a l of womanhood' i n e a r l y n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y V i c t o r i a n B r i t a i n was h e a v i l y i n f l u e n c e d by t h e w r i t i n g s of Jean Jacques Rousseau, who d e s c r i b e d women as b e i n g o f i n f e r i o r i n t e l l e c t , s u b m i s s i v e , and " e s s e n t i a l l y b o r n t o be t h e helpmates of men" ( K y l e , 1986, p . l ) . M i d d l e c l a s s women's sphere of e x i s t e n c e was t h e p r i v a t e r e a l m of t h e home, r u n n i n g t h e hous e h o l d , and t a k i n g c a r e of h e r c h i l d r e n and husband w h i l e men worked i n t h e p u b l i c sphere, e a r n i n g the money n e c e s s a r y t o su p p o r t h o u s e h o l d , w i f e , and c h i l d r e n (Bose, 1987; Evans, 1990; K y l e , 1986) . H i g h e r e d u c a t i o n was a male p r e r o g a t i v e and s e r v e d the f u n c t i o n of i n c r e a s i n g e a r n i n g p o t e n t i a l and g a i n i n g o r m a i n t a i n i n g s t a t u s i n s o c i e t y . B o t h e d u c a t i o n and employment were t o be unencumbered by ho u s e h o l d and c h i l d c a r e o b l i g a t i o n s , 3 w h i c h were t h e woman's domain (Bose, 1987; Evans, 1990; K y l e , 1986) . E d u c a t i o n f o r g i r l s and women, whi c h f o c u s e d h e a v i l y on t r a i n i n g i n d o m e s t i c a r t s , was meant t o i n c r e a s e t h e i r v a l u e as wi v e s and mothers (Evans, 1990; K y l e , 1986). T h i s gender d i v i s i o n between t h e p u b l i c and p r i v a t e spheres was l e s s v i s i b l e i n t h e l o w e r c l a s s e s , where s o c i a l and economic c o n d i t i o n s r e s u l t e d i n poor e d u c a t i o n f o r b o t h men and women ( K y l e , 1986). R e g a r d l e s s of c l a s s , however, a woman's p r i m a r y r o l e was seen as b e i n g a w i f e and mother (Evans, 1990; K y l e , 1986; P u r v i s , 1991). Around t h e m i d - n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y , when t h e f i r s t women were a d m i t t e d t o i n s t i t u t i o n s o f h i g h e r l e a r n i n g , i t was seen by many as an a b e r r a t i o n and a waste, because a woman was s t i l l e x p e c t e d t o f o l l o w h e r 'nature' and devote h e r s e l f e x c l u s i v e l y t o h e r f a m i l y as soon as she m a r r i e d ( P u r v i s , 1991). Women who managed t o g e t a h i g h e r e d u c a t i o n were t h e e x c e p t i o n . T h e i r numbers were few, and t h e y c o n c e n t r a t e d t h e i r s t u d i e s i n t h e 'f e m i n i n e ' a r e a s of e d u c a t i o n , home economics, and n u r s i n g ( P u r v i s , 1991; S t e w a r t , 1990). S i n c e then, f u e l e d by t h e women's movement as w e l l as by economic changes, women have found a d m i t t a n c e t o e v e r y f a c u l t y , but a r e s t i l l most s t r o n g l y r e p r e s e n t e d i n t h e t r a d i t i o n a l l y female f i e l d s ( S t a t i s t i c s Canada, 1995) . 4 A l t h o u g h t h e concept of womanhood today i n c l u d e s t h e o p t i o n of o b t a i n i n g a h i g h e r e d u c a t i o n and/or w o r k i n g o u t s i d e t h e home, the c a r e o f c h i l d r e n and home a l s o s t i l l f a l l s l a r g e l y i n t o t he l a p of women (Coverman, 1989; H o c h s c h i l d , 1989). I n p a r t i c u l a r , women w i t h c h i l d r e n e x p e r i e n c e g r e a t p r e s s u r e , b o t h i n t e r n a l l y and e x t e r n a l l y , t o be 'good mothers' (Everingham, 1994; H e l d , 1983; Nakano Glenn, 1994). The Research Question I t i s common knowledge t h a t women's e n t r y i n t o t he w o r l d of p a i d work has become, f o r many, an economic n e c e s s i t y and a s o c i e t a l r e a l i t y . H i g h e r e d u c a t i o n p r o v i d e s i n c r e a s e d o p p o r t u n i t y f o r e a r n i n g s and s a t i s f a c t i o n . However, women who pursue a u n i v e r s i t y e d u c a t i o n w h i l e r a i s i n g c h i l d r e n f a c e constant, demands from two d i r e c t i o n s - - t h e u n i v e r s i t y and the f a m i l y . Y e t , l i t t l e has been p u b l i s h e d about t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e s o r t h e i r needs. The und e r g r a d u a t e y e a r s i n a s t u d e n t ' s l i f e a r e g e n e r a l l y more s t r u c t u r e d and l e s s f l e x i b l e t h a n g r a d u a t e s t u d i e s . They a r e a l s o t h e t e s t i n g ground t h a t d e c i d e s whether the s t u d e n t 'makes i t ' o r drops o u t . T h i s s t u d y e x p l o r e d what l i f e i s l i k e f o r u n d e r g r a d u a t e s t u d e n t mothers. The r e s e a r c h q u e s t i o n s a d d r e s s e d were e x p l o r a t o r y , and t h e r e f o r e n e c e s s a r i l y b r o a d : 5 1. What are the l i v e d experiences of undergraduate university-women students with children? and 2. What meaning do women assign to these experiences? Conceptual Framework B e i n g a mother i s a v e r y demanding r o l e , and b e i n g a st u d e n t i s a l s o a v e r y demanding r o l e . T h i s s t u d y began w i t h the ass u m p t i o n t h a t a t e n s i o n e x i s t s between t h e s e two r o l e s f o r women who attempt a u n i v e r s i t y e d u c a t i o n a t t h e same time as b e i n g mothers. Motherhood and studenthood a r e t h e r e f o r e t h e p i l l a r s o f t h e c o n c e p t u a l framework f o r t h i s i n q u i r y . The way i n which t h e s e two co n c e p t s i n t e r f e r e w i t h o r complement each o t h e r i n t h e l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e s o f s t u d e n t mothers i s t h e t o p i c of t h i s i n v e s t i g a t i o n . Motherhood, today, i s not seen as s i m p l y t h e female e q u i v a l e n t o f f a t h e r h o o d . F o r a woman, much more so t h a n f o r a man, t o have c h i l d r e n i s seen as h e r n a t u r a l d e s t i n y and f u l f i l l m e n t (McMahon, 1995). To be a 'good mother' i s e q u i v a l e n t t o b e i n g a good woman (McMahon, 1995). C h i l d c a r e i s thought t o r e q u i r e s e l f - s a c r i f i c e , n u r t u r i n g , and empathy, and women a r e b e l i e v e d t o be p e r f e c t l y s u i t e d t o f u l f i l l t h o s e r e q u i r e m e n t s (Thurer, 1994). As a r e s u l t o f the p e r p e t u a l g l o r i f i c a t i o n of the ' i d e a l mother' r o l e i n s o c i e t y , c h i l d c a r e i s n a t u r a l l y seen as women's d u t y . A l t h o u g h t h i s concept of motherhood i s a l l 6 p e r v a s i v e and a lmost u n i v e r s a l (Edwards, 1993; L e w i s , 1991; T h u r e r , 1994), i t has been shown by many t o be s o c i a l l y c o n s t r u c t e d (Edwards, 1993; Hays, 1996; L e w i s , 1991; T h u r e r , 1994). There a r e i n c r e a s i n g o b j e c t i o n s t o t h i s i d e a l i z e d model of a 'good mother' because i t i s the c o n s t r u c t i o n o f s p e c i f i c h i s t o r i c a l , s o c i a l , and c u l t u r a l c i r c u m s t a n c e s , and not n e c e s s a r i l y a n a t u r a l s t a t e of b e i n g . However, even p r o g r e s s i v e women f i n d i t h a r d t o f r e e t hemselves from f e e l i n g t h a t t h e y have t o l i v e up t o t h i s s e l f - d e f i n i n g concept (Thurer, 1994) . C l e a r l y , motherhood, a r o l e t h a t i s demanding and e n t w i n e d so s t r o n g l y w i t h s e l f - i d e n t i t y , poses a dilemma when p u r s u i n g a l t e r n a t i v e g o a l s . Studenthood, o r what i t means t o be a s t u d e n t , has a l s o not r e c e i v e d much a t t e n t i o n i n t h e l i t e r a t u r e . I t i s commonly a c c e p t e d as a g i v e n t h a t a u n i v e r s i t y e d u c a t i o n r e q u i r e s d e t e r m i n a t i o n , h a r d work, and d e d i c a t i o n . The v e r y s t r u c t u r e of i n s t i t u t i o n s l i k e u n i v e r s i t i e s has been b u i l t on t h e a s s u m p t i o n t h a t , f o r t h e d u r a t i o n o f t h e i r s t u d i e s , s t u d e n t s would make the p u r s u i t o f academic knowledge t h e i r main p r i o r i t y i n l i f e (Acker, 1994; Edwards, 1991). T h i s i m p l i c i t e x p e c t a t i o n by u n i v e r s i t i e s of m o n o p o l i z i n g a s t u d e n t ' s l i f e has l e d t o the term 'greedy i n s t i t u t i o n s ' (Acker, 1994; Edwards, 1991). 7 I n t e r e s t i n g l y , t h i s term has a l s o been a p p l i e d t o t h e i n s t i t u t i o n o f f a m i l y (Coser, 1974). The p h r a s e 1 competing u r g e n c i e s ' has been used by H o c h s c h i l d and Machung (1989), R u b i n (1983), Young (1992), and o t h e r s t o d e s c r i b e the s i m u l t a n e o u s and p r e s s i n g demands f e l t when two o r more s e l f - i d e n t i f i e d , i d e n t i t y - r e l a t e d r o l e s v i e f o r an i n d i v i d u a l ' s r e s o u r c e s , be t h e y t i m e , energy, money, o r a n y t h i n g e l s e . F o r t h i s s t u d y , I assumed t h a t t h e r o l e of mother and t h e r o l e of s t u d e n t would be e x p e r i e n c e d as competing u r g e n c i e s i n t h e women's l i v e s . Because so l i t t l e i s known about u n d e r g r a d u a t e s t u d e n t mothers, and because th e f o c u s of t h i s s t u d y was on i n t r a -p e r s o n a l e x p e r i e n c e s , an e x p l o r a t o r y and d e s c r i p t i v e method of i n q u i r y was used. Phenomenological r e s e a r c h methods examine a phenomenon i n t h e everyday w o r l d o f an i n d i v i d u a l and s t r i v e t o u n d e r s t a n d t h e p e r s o n a l meaning d e r i v e d t h r o u g h t h i s l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e ( G i o r g i , 1985; Van Manen, 1990). T h i s methodology i s b u i l t on t h e t e n e t t h a t r e a l i t y i s c o n s t i t u t e d by what i s 'out t h e r e ' as w e l l as by t h e meaning th e i n d i v i d u a l g i v e s t o i t ( K a r l s s o n , 1993; Van Manen, 1990). I t seeks t o d e s c r i b e how a p e r s o n e x p e r i e n c e s a phenomenon, r a t h e r t h a n why ( G i o r g i , 1985). F o r t h o s e r e a s o n s , phenomenology was chosen as t h e 8 methodology t o e x p l o r e the l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e of b e i n g a s t u d e n t and a mother a t t h e same t i m e . Scope, Limitations, and Implications T h i s s t u d y e x p l o r e d t h e l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e s of seven u n d e r g r a d u a t e s t u d e n t mothers e n r o l l e d a t a Western Canadian U n i v e r s i t y . I t s i n t e n t was t o shed l i g h t on t h e meaning making e x p e r i e n c e of b e i n g an und e r g r a d u a t e s t u d e n t and a mother a t the same t i m e . The f o c u s was on how women e x p e r i e n c e t h i s phenomenon, n ot why o r t o what degree. S u b j e c t i v e e x p e r i e n c e i s not o n l y acknowledged i n t h i s s t u d y , but was t h e v e r y f o c u s of i t s i n q u i r y . Because t h i s s t u d y i s d e s c r i p t i v e i n n a t u r e , c a u s a l i n f e r e n c e s a r e n o t p o s s i b l e . The r e s u l t s a l s o would n ot n e c e s s a r i l y e x t e n d t o gr a d u a t e s t u d e n t s o r t o s t u d e n t mothers i n o t h e r u n i v e r s i t i e s , o r o t h e r c u l t u r e s . I n s t e a d , t r u e t o t h e t e n e t s o f phenomenology, wh i c h emphasizes t h e s u b j e c t i v e n a t u r e of e x p e r i e n c e , the s t u d y ' s i n t e r p r e t i v e v a l i d i t y i s l i m i t e d by the c u l t u r a l , s o c i e t a l , t e m p o r a l , and c i r c u m s t a n t i a l f a c t o r s i n whic h t h e phenomenon was e x p e r i e n c e d . G i v e n t h e s e p a r t i c u l a r c i r c u m s t a n c e s , t h e e v e r y d a y - r e a l i t y of s t u d e n t moms was the s u b j e c t of t h i s i n q u i r y . What t h i s s t u d y aimed t o do was t o shed l i g h t on t h e l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e o f women 9 s t u d e n t s w i t h c h i l d r e n i n o r d e r t o h i g h l i g h t how t h e y d e r i v e meaning from t h e e x p e r i e n c e of t h i s phenomenon. On a t h e o r e t i c a l l e v e l , t h e o r i e s about m u l t i p l e r o l e s f o r women, as d e f i n e d by P l e c k (1977), and many s i n c e t h e n , w i l l be e n r i c h e d by i n f o r m a t i o n about the e x p e r i e n c e s o f s t u d e n t mothers. I n p a r t i c u l a r , t he l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e of t h e concept of 'competing u r g e n c i e s ' f o r women s t u d e n t s w i t h c h i l d r e n s h o u l d add t o our u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the impact of t h e s e p a r t i c u l a r m u l t i p l e r o l e s on women. In p r a c t i c a l terms, g a i n i n g u n d e r s t a n d i n g of what the e x p e r i e n c e o f b e i n g a s t u d e n t and a mother a t t h e same time i s l i k e , would h e l p i n f o r m u n i v e r s i t y and government p o l i c i e s , as th e y r e l a t e t o t h i s r e l a t i v e l y unknown sub-group o f s t u d e n t s . The g r e a t e s t c o n t r i b u t i o n of t h i s s t u d y , however, w i l l be t o the f i e l d of c o u n s e l l i n g . E x p l o r i n g t h e e x p e r i e n c e s and s t r u g g l e s of s t u d e n t moms w i l l add a much needed b u i l d i n g . b l o c k t o t h e f o u n d a t i o n o f empathic u n d e r s t a n d i n g of s t u d e n t s e r v i c e s and o t h e r c o u n s e l l i n g a g e n c i e s . I t i s hoped t h a t t h i s s t u d y c o n t r i b u t e s toward making a l a r g e l y i n v i s i b l e s t u d e n t p o p u l a t i o n group more v i s i b l e , and t h a t i t might s p a r k f u r t h e r , more d e t a i l e d , l a r g e r s c a l e , s t u d i e s t h a t e x p l o r e t h e u n i v e r s a l i t y o f t h e s e e x p e r i e n c e s , as w e l l as t h e s p e c i f i c needs of t h i s s t u d e n t group. 10 CHAPTER II LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction I n t h i s c h a p t e r , t h e l i t e r a t u r e r e l e v a n t t o t h e e x p e r i e n c e of b e i n g a s t u d e n t and a mother i s r e v i e w e d . I n t h e f i r s t s e c t i o n I examine what has been p u b l i s h e d s p e c i f i c a l l y about s t u d e n t mothers. Because t h i s t o p i c has not been t h e f o c u s of much r e s e a r c h a t t e n t i o n , however, i n t h i s s e c t i o n I a l s o l o o k a t the l i t e r a t u r e about n o n - t r a d i t i o n a l s t u d e n t s , mature s t u d e n t s , and r e - e n t r y s t u d e n t s , as i t r e l a t e s t o women w i t h c h i l d r e n . The second s e c t i o n d e a l s w i t h the concept of motherhood. I examine how t h e l i t e r a t u r e d e f i n e s t h i s concept and i t s r e l e v a n c e t o women s t u d e n t s w i t h c h i l d r e n . I n t h e t h i r d s e c t i o n I examine, what I c a l l i n a p a r a l l e l v e i n , t h e concept of 'studenthood,' t h a t i s , how t h e i d e a l s t u d e n t i s d e f i n e d by t h e s t r u c t u r e of the e d u c a t i o n a l i n s t i t u t i o n . Student Mothers I n c r e a s i n g numbers of o l d e r s t u d e n t s choose t o a c q u i r e h i g h e r e d u c a t i o n (Foot & Stoffmann, 1996). T h i s i n c r e a s e i s due, at l e a s t i n p a r t , t o what S w i f t , C o l v i n , and M i l l s (1987) term the d i s p l a c e d homemaker, t h a t i s , women w i t h f a m i l i e s who have d e c i d e d t o go back t o s c h o o l . A c k e r (1994) a l s o examines the growing e v i d e n c e t h a t t h e r e a r e today more mature women w i t h 11 c h i l d r e n e n r o l l e d as s t u d e n t s i n h i g h e r e d u c a t i o n . I t i s g e n e r a l l y acknowledged, however, t h a t t h i s c h a n g i n g t r e n d has l a r g e l y been i g n o r e d by c o l l e g e s and u n i v e r s i t i e s (Acker, 1994; Cap l a n , 1993; Edwards, 1993; Foot & Stoffmann, 1996; S w i f t e t a l . , 1987). Hooper and March (1980) c o n c l u d e d t h a t u n i v e r s i t i e s seem t o e x p e c t young, u n a t t a c h e d , male s t u d e n t s - - a statement t h a t seems, i n l i g h t of a l a c k of change, s t i l l t r u e today. S e v e r a l r e s e a r c h e r s have a t t e m p t e d t o i d e n t i f y t h e s p e c i a l needs o f women s t u d e n t s w i t h c h i l d r e n , e s p e c i a l l y s i n g l e mother s t u d e n t s (Danowsky, 1983; G o r l i c k , 1992; Hooper & March, 1980) and g r a d u a t e s t u d e n t s w i t h c h i l d r e n (Acker, 1994; Cap l a n , 1993; Dyk, 1987; Guppy & Trew, 1995). Van Stone, N e l s o n , and Niemann (1994) i n t e r v i e w e d 46 low income s i n g l e mother s t u d e n t s a t a medium-sized American u n i v e r s i t y about t h e i r a t t r i b u t i o n a l b e l i e f s r e g a r d i n g academic s u c c e s s . They came t o the c o n c l u s i o n t h a t t h i s group of women s t u d e n t s b e l i e v e t h e i r academic s u c c e s s t o be more dependent on s o c i o l o g i c a l f a c t o r s , such as s u p p o r t from d i f f e r e n t groups of i n d i v i d u a l s , f a m i l y , p e e r s , and f a c u l t y , t h a n on p s y c h o l o g i c a l f a c t o r s such as a m b i t i o n o r d e t e r m i n a t i o n . However, Rendon and Jalome (1995) found t h a t f u l l t i me mothers were a t t h e t o p o f t h e i r l i s t o f s t u d e n t groups h a v i n g d i f f i c u l t i e s g e t t i n g i n v o l v e d s o c i a l l y o r a c a d e m i c a l l y on campus. I n a s t u d y based on 12 i n v o l v e m e n t t h e o r y , which a s s e r t s t h a t the degree o f inv o l v e m e n t w i t h and i n l i f e on campus i s p r o p o r t i o n a t e t o t h e degree of academic s u c c e s s , t h e y i n t e r v i e w e d 72 f i r s t - y e a r c o l l e g e s t u d e n t s about t h e i r campus i n v o l v e m e n t , and examined t h e i r academic r e c o r d s . Hooper and March (1980) a l s o found t h a t s t u d e n t moms f e l t i s o l a t e d , as d i d Ca p l a n (1993), who, i n a d d i t i o n , r e p o r t e d t h a t women s t u d e n t s w i t h c h i l d r e n a r e t a l k e d t o i n a p a t r o n i z i n g way by f a c u l t y , s u g g e s t i n g " t h a t t h e y ought t o be home w i t h t h e i r c h i l d r e n " (p.13). To c o u n t e r - a c t t h i s i s o l a t i o n , s e v e r a l w r i t e r s have s u g g e s t e d t h e i m p l e m e n t a t i o n of s u p p o r t networks f o r s t u d e n t mothers (Danowski, 1983; Rendon & Jalome, 1995; S w i f t e t a l . , 1987; Van Stone, N e l s o n , & Niemann, 1994). Danowski (1983), however, a l s o d e s c r i b e s the d i f f i c u l t i e s t h e y e n c o u n t e r e d i n e s t a b l i s h i n g such a p a r e n t network, as th e y found t h e r e t o be a danger of a d d i n g t o t h e women's d i f f i c u l t i e s , i n s t e a d of l i g h t e n i n g them, and t h e r e f o r e a t t e n d a n c e was low. I n s u f f i c i e n t f u n d i n g f o r s i n g l e s t u d e n t mothers, and an " a t t i t u d e o f d e t e r r e n c e " (p.56) by f u n d i n g a g e n c i e s has been o b s e r v e d by G o r l i c k (1992), whereas Guppy and Trew (1995) have r e p o r t e d t h a t g r a d u a t e s t u d e n t s w i t h f a m i l y r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s r e p o r t h a v i n g a c c e s s t o fewer n o n - f i n a n c i a l r e s o u r c e s , such as an o f f i c e o r t e l e p h o n e on campus. 13 One s e e m i n g l y i n e s c a p a b l e consequence o f b e i n g a s t u d e n t mother i s d e s c r i b e d as r o l e c o n f l i c t , t h a t i s , a t e n s i o n between b e i n g a mother and b e i n g a s t u d e n t (Caplan, 1993; Dyk, 1987; Edwards, 1993; Welch, 1990). T h i s r o l e c o n f l i c t i s a t t r i b u t e d , i n p a r t , t o l i m i t e d r e s o u r c e s , such as t i m e , money, and/or energy, a l l of whi c h a r e r e q u i r e d f o r b o t h r o l e s . Edwards (1993) too k a w i d e r sweep when e x a m i n i n g the p l i g h t of mature women s t u d e n t s . She used a f e m i n i s t approach t o p l a c e women's r o l e ( s ) i n h i s t o r i c a l c o n t e x t . B e i n g a w i f e and mother, a c c o r d i n g t o Edwards, has been the main s o c i e t a l l y p r e s c r i b e d f u n c t i o n and d e s t i n y f o r women. Even w h i l e women work o u t s i d e t h e home, t h e i r p r i o r i t y , so th e y a r e t o l d , must always be the p r i v a t e w o r l d o f c a r i n g f o r t h e i r f a m i l y . F o r mature women s t u d e n t s i t i s o f t e n i m p o s s i b l e t o s e p a r a t e t h e p r i v a t e w o r l d of the f a m i l y from t h e p u b l i c demands p l a c e d on them as a s t u d e n t . The p r i m a c y o f t h e mo t h e r / w i f e r o l e i s c h a l l e n g e d by i m p i n g i n g demands o f t h e s t u d e n t r o l e , w h i l e a t t h e same time t h e mo t h e r / w i f e r o l e g e t s i n the way of f u l f i l l i n g t h e s t u d e n t r o l e . Women e i t h e r adopt an a t t i t u d e of i n t e g r a t i o n , t r y i n g t o combine and connect t h e s e two spheres of t h e i r l i v e s , o r t h e y s t r u g g l e t r y i n g t o keep them s e p a r a t e (Edwards, 1993). Because s o c i e t y s t i l l g i v e s women t h e message t h a t c h i l d c a r e and h o u s e h o l d d u t i e s a r e m a i n l y women's 14 r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , and because u n i v e r s i t i e s a r e not amenable t o accommodate f a m i l y demands, women f i n d t h e m s e l v e s i n a double b i n d (Caplan, 1993). As r e a l women, th e y a r e e x p e c t e d t o have c h i l d r e n , b u t as mothers i n u n i v e r s i t y , t h e y a r e o f t e n not seen as r e l i a b l y p e r f o r m i n g s t u d e n t s , because t h e i r c h i l d c a r e d u t i e s may i n t e r f e r e w i t h t h e i r s c h o o l work (Acker, 1994; C a p l a n , 1993; Edwards, 1993). I f t h e y a r e p e r f o r m i n g w e l l , t h e y might be s u s p e c t e d o f n e g l e c t i n g t h e i r c h i l d ( r e n ) , because t h e y o b v i o u s l y d i d not make them t h e i r main f o c u s (Caplan, 1993). I n v a r i a b l y , however, s t u d e n t mothers f i n d t h a t t h e i r academic performance sometimes i s l o w e r t h a n e x p e c t e d (Hooper & March, 1980) . As H e n s e l , c i t e d i n Welch (1990), s t a t e s : " B e i n g a mother means b e i n g c o n s t a n t l y i n t e r r u p t i b l e and c o n t i n u a l l y r e s p o n s i v e t o the needs of someone e l s e " (p. 3 ) , which makes i t d i f f i c u l t t o d e v e l o p t h e c o n c e n t r a t i o n n e c e s s a r y t o w r i t e and s t u d y (Hensel, i n Welch, 1990). C h a r t r a n d (1990) o b t a i n e d q u e s t i o n n a i r e s from 179 non-t r a d i t i o n a l u n d e r g r a d u a t e s t u d e n t s a t a l a r g e midwestern U.S. u n i v e r s i t y and e x p l o r e d the s t u d e n t s ' s e l f r o l e e v a l u a t i o n , r o l e commitment, s e l f - g o o d s t u d e n t r o l e i n c o n g r u e n c e , and v a r i o u s p e r s o n a l d i s t r e s s v a r i a b l e s . These v a r i a b l e s were t h e n used i n a L i n e a r S t r u c t u r a l R e l a t i o n s program t o p r e d i c t t h e s t u d e n t s ' p e r s o n a l and academic ad j u s t m e n t . A second q u e s t i o n n a i r e , as 15 w e l l as academic t r a n s c r i p t s , s e r v e d t o t e s t t h e a c c u r a c y of the p r e d i c t i o n s . The r e s u l t s i n d i c a t e d t h a t t h e P e r s o n X Environment f i t o f n o n t r a d i t i o n a l s t u d e n t s , t h a t i s , r o l e commitment, r o l e e v a l u a t i o n , and s e l f - r o l e congruence, were a l l r e l a t e d t o academic a d j u s t m e n t . As p r e d i c t e d , t he commitment t o and i d e n t i f i c a t i o n w i t h t h e s t u d e n t r o l e was weaker f o r s t u d e n t s w i t h f a m i l y r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s t h a n f o r t r a d i t i o n a l , s i n g l e s t u d e n t s . Edwards (1993) s i m i l a r l y s u g g e sted t h a t r o l e c o n f l i c t does not o n l y r e s u l t from s o c i e t a l e x p e c t a t i o n s , but t h a t women have i n t e r n a l i z e d t h e m o t h e r / w i f e r o l e t o such an e x t e n t t h a t i t d e f i n e s t h e i r p e r s o n a l i t y . The s t r u g g l e , t h e r e f o r e , does not o n l y t a k e p l a c e e x t e r n a l l y , i n v o l v i n g t h e s t r u c t u r e s of b o t h f a m i l y and u n i v e r s i t y , but a l s o i n t e r n a l l y , each woman s t r u g g l i n g w i t h h e r own v a l u e s and e x p e c t a t i o n s of h e r s e l f . G raduate s t u d e n t mothers' i n t e r r o l e c o n f l i c t r e s o l u t i o n has been i d e n t i f i e d by Dyk (1987) t o i n v o l v e c e r t a i n c o p i n g t y p e s . Based on a c u r s o r y l i t e r a t u r e r e v i e w , as w e l l as i n f o r m a l c o n v e r s a t i o n s she had ov e r t h e p e r i o d of one y e a r w i t h h e r f e l l o w g r a d u a t e s t u d e n t mothers, Dyk d i s t i n g u i s h e d two main c o p i n g s t r a t e g i e s : women e i t h e r r e d e f i n e t h e r o l e s o f t h e s t r u c t u r e s i n t h e i r l i v e s , t h a t i s , t h e f a m i l y , and/or u n i v e r s i t y , o r t h e y r e d e f i n e t h e i r p e r s o n a l r o l e w i t h i n t h e s e 16 s t r u c t u r e s . O f t e n , and most s u c c e s s f u l l y , women do b o t h (Dyk, 1987) . I n t h e ongoing, l a r g e r s t u d y , out of wh i c h t h i s t h e s i s d e v e l o p e d , b o t h u n d e r g r a d u a t e and gr a d u a t e s t u d e n t mothers were i n t e r v i e w e d about t h e s p e c i f i c s t r e s s e s and c o p i n g s t r a t e g i e s i n v o l v e d i n l i v i n g t h e s e two r o l e s a t t h e same time (Long, L o v a t o , & F r a n k i s h , 1998, Hampton Res e a r c h Fund). P r e l i m i n a r y r e s u l t s suggest t h a t s t r e s s e s f o r t h e s e women o r i g i n a t e b o t h e x t e r n a l l y and i n t e r n a l l y and t h a t c o p i n g happens, as d e s c r i b e d by Dyk (1987), i n p a r t t h r o u g h r e s t r u c t u r i n g p r o c e s s e s . Student mothers, as n o t e d e a r l i e r , have not r e c e i v e d much r e s e a r c h a t t e n t i o n . The e x i s t i n g l i t e r a t u r e f o c u s e s m a i n l y on s i n g l e mother s t u d e n t s o r gr a d u a t e s t u d e n t s , and a t t e m p t s t o o u t l i n e t h e s e groups' s p e c i a l needs and c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . Edwards' (1993) e x a m i n a t i o n of mature women s t u d e n t s perhaps comes c l o s e s t t o d e s c r i b i n g what i t i s a c t u a l l y l i k e t o be a s t u d e n t and a mother a t t h e same t i m e . She based h e r book on 31 i n t e r v i e w s , but examines and e x p l a i n s h e r t h e o r y by p l a c i n g t he d a t a i n t o f e m i n i s t h i s t o r i c a l and p e r s o n a l c o n t e x t . The f o c u s of her e x a m i n a t i o n , t h e r e f o r e , s h i f t s t o why mature women s t u d e n t s f e e l , t h i n k , o r a c t a c e r t a i n way. No l i t e r a t u r e has been found t o examine how women e x p e r i e n c e t h e phenomena of b e i n g a s t u d e n t 17 and a mother a t t h e same ti m e , and what meaning t h e y d e r i v e from t h a t e x p e r i e n c e . Motherhood F o r women today, as i n t h e p a s t , becoming a mother i s seen as a n a t u r a l d e s t i n y ( B i r n s & Hay, 1988; McMahon, 1995; Thurer, 1994). I t i s not o n l y becoming pregnant and g i v i n g b i r t h , however, t h a t i s su p p o s e d l y t h e u l t i m a t e f u l f i l l m e n t of t h e female r o l e i n to d a y ' s s o c i e t y , but t h e i n h e r e n t work a s s o c i a t e d w i t h n u r t u r i n g , c a r i n g f o r , and r a i s i n g t he c h i l d (Caplan, 1985; Hays, 1996; McMahon, 1995; Thurer, 1994). T h i s h i d d e n c o n n o t a t i o n becomes q u i t e c l e a r when one examines t h e phrase m o t h e r i n g a c h i l d . The image t h a t comes t o mind i s t h a t of a s e l f l e s s , warm, c a r i n g , and n u r t u r i n g woman (Caplan, 1985). C o n t r a s t i n g t h i s w i t h t h e common meaning o f ' f a t h e r i n g a c h i l d , ' w h i c h g e n e r a l l y o n l y e s t a b l i s h e s b i o l o g i c a l p a t e r n i t y , b r i n g s i n t o f o c u s t h e i d e o l o g i c a l l y l a d e n n a t u r e of m o t h e r i n g , and, t h e r e f o r e , motherhood. I t i s t h i s i d e o l o g y t h a t has been t h e f o c u s o f a r e c e n t body of l i t e r a t u r e ( B i r n s & Hay, 1988; Hays, 1996; Lewis, 1991; Nakano Gl e n n , 1994; T h i e r n e y , 1991; Thurer, 1994). I n examining the concept of motherhood i n i t s c u l t u r a l c o n t e x t , T h u r e r (1995) o b s e r v e d t h a t t h e c o n n o t a t i o n s a t t a c h e d t o i t have come t o be a c c e p t e d as n a t u r a l by s o c i e t y , so as t o r e n d e r t h e i r s o c i a l 18 c o n s t r u c t i o n i n v i s i b l e . She c a l l s t h i s the 'myth of motherhood,' whereas Lewis (1991) r e f e r s t o t h e 'motherhood mandate.' H i s t o r i c a l l y , t h i s i d e a l of motherhood as b e i n g the n a t u r a l f u l f i l l m e n t o f womanhood can be t r a c e d back t o t h e s e p a r a t i o n of the p r i v a t e (home) and the p u b l i c ( p a i d work o u t s i d e t h e home) spheres ( T h i e r n e y , 1991). W i t h t h e d i v i s i o n of l a b o u r , women were g i v e n p r i m a r y r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r c h i l d c a r e . Motherhood became i d e a l i z e d , but d i d not c o r r e s p o n d i n g l y g a i n economic v a l u e , w h i c h Hays (1996) i d e n t i f i e s as the c u l t u r a l c o n t r a d i c t i o n o f motherhood. The i d e a l i z a t i o n of motherhood, however, brou g h t w i t h i t norms a g a i n s t w h i c h women were measured, and measured themselves ( B i r n s & Hay, 1988; L e w i s , 1991; McMahon, 1995). B e i n g a 'good mother' became, f o r most women, p a r t of t h e i r female s e l f -concept (McMahon, 1995). A good mother p o s s e s s e s q u a l i t i e s t h a t make h e r u n i q u e l y s u i t e d t o t h e j o b : she i s s e l f l e s s , p a t i e n t , c a r i n g , and n u r t u r i n g (McMahon, 1995), and c o n s e q u e n t l y judges h e r own needs t o be of l e s s i mportance t h a n t h o s e of h e r c h i l d r e n and f a m i l y (McMahon, 1995; Thurer, 1994; W o o l l e t t & Phoenix, 1991). The motherhood i d e a l i s b e i n g p e r p e t u a t e d , even today, i n the media, by c h i l d c a r e e x p e r t s , and r e l i g i o u s dogmas (Caplan, 1985; Hays, 1996; Thurer, 1994; W o o l l e t t & Phoenix, 1991). 19 U n f o r t u n a t e l y , women have a c c e p t e d and i n t e r n a l i z e d t h i s i d e a l t o such an e x t e n t t h a t i t o f t e n i n t e r f e r e s w i t h t h e i r a b i l i t y t o make a l t e r n a t i v e c h o i c e s (Caplan, 1985; Hays, 1996; McMahon, 1995; T h u r e r , 1994; W o o l l e t t & Phoenix, 1991). A woman who chooses t o work o u t s i d e t h e home o f t e n cannot escape f e e l i n g g u i l t y , because she i s made t o f e e l t h a t she has p l a c e d h e r own needs above t h o s e of h e r c h i l d (Thurer 1994). More t h a n t h a t , h e r s e l f - c o n c e p t as a woman may be shaken by such a d e c i s i o n (McMahon, 1995) . S o c i e t y , as w e l l as h e r own s o c i a l i z a t i o n , t e l l h e r t h a t she i s t h e one who i s b e s t s u i t e d t o and u l t i m a t e l y r e s p o n s i b l e f o r h e r c h i l d ' s c a r e and needs ( W o o l l e t t & Phoenix, 1991). A mother who pur s u e s o t h e r g o a l s as w e l l as motherhood, t h e r e f o r e , cannot escape e x p e r i e n c i n g c o n f l i c t , because m o t h e r i n g i s seen by s o c i e t y as a f u l l - t i m e , a l l consuming endeavor (McMahon, 1995). The r e v i e w of the l i t e r a t u r e about motherhood p r e s e n t e d here i s not comprehensive, but r a t h e r , i s meant t o h i g h l i g h t t h o s e a s p e c t s i m p o r t a n t t o s t u d e n t mothers. A c c o r d i n g t o the c r i t i q u e s o f t h e motherhood i d e a l , t h e l i f e , work, and g o a l s of a s t u d e n t a r e not c o m p a t i b l e w i t h what s o c i e t y , and women the m s e l v e s , e x p e c t of a good mother. The ass u m p t i o n o f c o n f l i c t i s , t h e r e f o r e , w a r r a n t e d . 20 'Studenthood' I chose t h e word 'studenthood' i n t h i s c o n t e x t because I want t o draw a p a r a l l e l between motherhood and what i t means t o be a s t u d e n t . L i k e motherhood, the l i f e of a s t u d e n t i s d e f i n e d by s o c i e t a l , c u l t u r a l , and i n s t i t u t i o n a l c o n v e n t i o n s (Coser, 1974). And j u s t as w i t h motherhood, what d e f i n e s t h e i d e a l s t u d e n t i s most c l e a r l y seen t h r o u g h c r i t i q u e s of t h e l i m i t s of t h i s r o l e (Acker, 1994; Caplan, 1993; Edwards, 1993; Smith, 1987). The most common c r i t i q u e of u n i v e r s i t i e s i s t h e 'maleness' o f t h e environment (Acker, 1994; Dagg & Thompson, 1988; Edwards, 1993; Guppy & Trew, 1995; Pyke, 1997; S c h i c k , 1994). But what does t h a t mean? I n a p h y s i c a l sense, i t means t h e r e i s a d i s t i n c t l a c k of female mentors and r o l e models i n f a c u l t y and a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . Pyke (1997) makes t h e o b s e r v a t i o n t h a t between 1960 and 1994 the p e r c e n t a g e of women on f a c u l t y i n Canadian u n i v e r s i t i e s ' s k y r o c k e t e d ' from 11% t o 20%, and quotes "At t h e r a t e we're g o i n g , i t w i l l t a k e 1,920 more y e a r s . . . b e f o r e women see e q u i t y as f a c u l t y , a d m i n i s t r a t o r s and r o l e models i n Canadian u n i v e r s i t i e s (p.160). Beyond t h e f a c t t h a t 80% of f a c u l t y a r e male, t h e v e r y s t r u c t u r e o f e d u c a t i o n a l i n s t i t u t i o n s , many a s s e r t , i s b u i l t on male p r i n c i p l e s (Acker, 1994; Edwards, 1993; Kat z & V i e l a n d , 1988; Smith, 1987; S t e w a r t , 1990). A c k e r (1994) e x p l a i n s t h i s 21 male s t r u c t u r e as "men impos e [ i n g ] t h e i r c o n c e p t u a l i z a t i o n of th e w o r l d on women, whose own e x p e r i e n c e s a r e r e g a r d e d as a l e s s v a l i d , l e s s c o n v i n c i n g , and l e s s s c i e n t i f i c way o f u n d e r s t a n d i n g " (p. 130). Smith (1987) s p e c u l a t e s t h a t t h i s s t r u c t u r e i s an ongoing, c o n s c i o u s attempt t o d i s c r e d i t and e x c l u d e t h e 'everyday w o r l d ' o f women's knowledge from u n i v e r s i t y , and t h e r e b y i m p l i c i t l y r e i n f o r c e t h e n o t i o n t h a t h i g h e r e d u c a t i o n i s , and p r o p e r l y s h o u l d be, t h e b u s i n e s s of men. Compounding t h e women u n f r i e n d l y c l i m a t e i n h i g h e r e d u c a t i o n i s t h e f a c t t h a t u n i v e r s i t i e s o u t w a r d l y p r e s e n t t h e m s e l v e s as gender n e u t r a l m e r i t o c r a c i e s (Acker, 1994; Kat z & V i e l a n d , 1988). W i t h t h i s argument, t h e y d i s r e g a r d and a v o i d any acknowledgment o f f a m i l y and/or c h i l d c a r e r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s , deeming them i r r e l e v a n t t o a s t u d e n t (Acker, 1994; Edwards, 1993; K a t z & V i e l a n d , 1988). I n s t e a d , t r u e t o t h e term 'greedy i n s t i t u t i o n s ' t h e y demand e x c l u s i v e and u n d i v i d e d a t t e n t i o n and d e d i c a t i o n from t h o s e who want t o succeed (Acker, 1994; Coser, 1974; Edwards, 1993). T h i s unencumbered s t a t e , however, i s much more l i k e l y t o be t h e r e a l i t y of a male s t u d e n t t h a n of a female s t u d e n t , because even i f a male s t u d e n t has a f a m i l y , he i s u s u a l l y not t h e one p r i m a r i l y r e s p o n s i b l e f o r h o u s e h o l d and c h i l d c a r e d u t i e s (Acker, 1994; Edwards, 1993). As t h i s c u r s o r y r e v i e w of t h e l i t e r a t u r e on 1 s t u d e n t h o o d ' i l l u s t r a t e s , t h e h i g h e r e d u c a t i o n system i s i m p l i c i t l y o r i e n t e d towards t h e young, s i n g l e male s t u d e n t . T h i s i d e a l s t u d e n t i s a b l e t o f o c u s e x c l u s i v e l y on h i s s t u d i e s , has a f l e x i b l e t i m e t a b l e , and speaks the p o s i t i v i s t language of s c i e n c e . I n r e t u r n , he w i l l f i n d adequate m e n t o r s h i p and r o l e m o d e l i n g , w i l f i n d h i s e x p e r i e n c e s r e f l e c t e d i n the t o p i c s and language of st u d y , and h i s i d e a s r e i n f o r c e d by t h e dominant i d e o l o g y . T h i s i d e a l o f 'studenthood' i s not modeled on t h e needs of women. 23 CHAPTER III METHODOLOGY Research Design T h i s s t u d y sought t o e l u c i d a t e what i t i s l i k e t o be a mother and a s t u d e n t a t the same tim e , by ex a m i n i n g the meaning women i n t h i s s i t u a t i o n g i v e t o t h e i r e v e ry-day e x p e r i e n c e s of t h i s phenomenon. A ph e n o m e n o l o g i c a l method (Van Manen, 1990) was deemed t o be the most a p p r o p r i a t e f o r t h i s purpose. Phenomenology a r o s e w i t h i n t h e f i e l d of p h i l o s o p h y as a c h a l l e n g e t o the assumption of the s c i e n t i f i c w o r l d t h a t knowledge must be based on the ' n a t u r a l w o r l d , ' t h a t i s , on o b s e r v a b l e , measurable, and s t a b l e u n i t s ( H o l s t e i n & Gubrium, 1986). H u s s e r l a s s e r t e d t h a t t h i s approach t o knowledge i g n o r e s t h e f a c t t h a t what i s out t h e r e i n the ' n a t u r a l w o r l d ' must be c o n s c i o u s l y o b s e r v e d and u n d e r s t o o d i n some way, t h a t i s , a meaning a s s i g n e d t o i t , f o r i t t o become knowledge ( c i t e d i n Osborne, 1989). As J e n n i n g s (1986) d e s c r i b e s t h i s p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l way o f u n d e r s t a n d i n g knowledge: "Whereas [ t r a d i t i o n a l ] p s y c h o l o g y s t u d i e s a c t u a l s u b j e c t i v e r e s p o n s e s t o a c t u a l e n v i r o n m e n t a l e v e n t s ( e m p i r i c a l d a t a ) , phenomenology s t u d i e s t h e e s s e n t i a l c h a r a c t e r o f c o n s c i o u s n e s s i n meaning-c o n f e r r i n g a c t s ( e s s e n t i a l knowledge)" (p. 1231). A phe n o m e n o l o g i c a l method of i n q u i r y , t h e r e f o r e , a t t e m p t s t o 24 d e s c r i b e a phenomenon as e x p e r i e n c e d by t h e i n d i v i d u a l i n the e v e r y - d a y w o r l d ( C o l a i z z i , 1978; G i o r g i , 1985; Van Manen, 1990). A l t h o u g h H u s s e r l b e l i e v e d t h a t phenomenology was a b l e t o a r r i v e a t a 'pure essence' of knowledge ( J e n n i n g s , 1986), Heidegger and many of today's p henomenologists argue t h a t r e a l i t y , when i t i s b e i n g d e f i n e d not o n l y by what i s but a l s o by how t h e i n d i v i d u a l p e r c e i v e s the w o r l d , cannot l e a d t o an a b s o l u t e , pure knowledge ( V a l l e , K i n g , & H a i l i n g , 1989). When r e s e a r c h i n g the l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e s of a n o t h e r p e r s o n o r p e r s o n s , t h e phenomena w i l l be d o u b l y c o n s t i t u t e d , f i r s t by the p e r s o n l i v i n g t h e e x p e r i e n c e , t h e n by the r e s e a r c h e r a t t e m p t i n g t o d e s c r i b e t h i s l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e ( P o l k i n g h o r n e , 1989). I t i s , t h e r e f o r e , n e c e s s a r y t o ' b r a c k e t ' one's p r e s u p p o s i t i o n s about the n a t u r e of t h e phenomenon and t o attempt t o s e t them a s i d e f o r t h e d u r a t i o n o f t h e a n a l y s i s (Osborne, 1994, p. 170). By a c k n o w l e d g i n g one's b i a s e s and p r e s u p p o s i t i o n s w i t h r e g a r d t o t h e phenomenon, and c o n t i n u a l l y t r y i n g t o e l i m i n a t e them from the p r o c e s s o f a n a l y s i s , t h e r e s e a r c h e r i s b e t t e r a b l e t o a r r i v e a t t h e s t r u c t u r e s o f c o n s c i o u s n e s s t h a t g i v e meaning t o a p a r t i c u l a r l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e ( C o l a i z z i , 1978; G i o r g i , 1985; Osborne, 1994; P o l k i n g h o r n e , 1989). I n summary, a p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l method was chosen f o r t h i s s t u d y , because l i t t l e i s known about th e e x p e r i e n c e o f b e i n g a 25 mother and a s t u d e n t a t the same time, and because e m p i r i c a l methods of r e s e a r c h would not as c l e a r l y e l u c i d a t e t h e phenomenon as e x p e r i e n c e d by the women. Placing the Researcher The b e l i e f i n t h e c o n s t i t u t i v e c h a r a c t e r of knowledge and c o n s c i o u s n e s s i s a fundamental p a r t of p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l r e s e a r c h . To be a b l e t o d i s t i n g u i s h the r e s e a r c h e r ' s p r e s u p p o s i t i o n s from t h e a c t u a l l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e s as d e s c r i b e d by t h e p a r t i c i p a n t s , i t i s n e c e s s a r y t o attempt t o s t a t e c l e a r l y a l l a s s u m p t i o n s , b i a s e s , and preknowledge, i n o t h e r words the ' n a t u r a l a t t i t u d e ' t h e r e s e a r c h e r b r i n g s t o t h e i n q u i r y (Osborne, 1994, p.170). My own e x p e r i e n c e s as a student-mom prompted my i n t e r e s t i n the o r i g i n a l s t u d y . H a v i n g been a f r e s h l y d i v o r c e d mother of t h r e e when I r e t u r n e d t o u n i v e r s i t y as an u n d e r g r a d u a t e s t u d e n t , I found i t d i f f i c u l t t o do j u s t i c e t o e x p e c t a t i o n s of m y s e l f as a mother and e x p e c t a t i o n s of m y s e l f as a s t u d e n t . I b e l i e v e d t h a t as a mother I s h o u l d be ' t h e r e ' f o r my c h i l d r e n , t h a t i s , be a v a i l a b l e when th e y needed me. A t the same time I e x p e c t e d t o be a b l e t o p e r f o r m m a x i m a l l y as a s t u d e n t . My e x p e r i e n c e was t h a t t h e r e were not enough hours i n a day t o l i v e up t o b o t h of th e s e r o l e e x p e c t a t i o n s . I a l s o found t h a t i t was v e r y d i f f i c u l t t o make ends meet on a s t u d e n t l o a n w i t h t h r e e c h i l d r e n . T h i s 26 meant t h a t I had t o have a p a i d j o b , which made i t even more d i f f i c u l t t o l i v e up t o my e x p e c t a t i o n s f o r m y s e l f as a mother and as a s t u d e n t . I e x p e r i e n c e d b e i n g a t t h e u n i v e r s i t y as an anomaly, as I o f t e n had t o a p p l y f o r ' e x c e p t i o n s t o the r u l e , ' be i t i n due d a t e s o r f i n a n c i a l s u p p o r t . A t t h e same tim e , I f e l t t h a t b e i n g a s t u d e n t , w h i l e I had c h i l d r e n t o r a i s e , was seen as a s e l f i s h i n d u l g e n c e by many around me, b o t h f r i e n d s and f a m i l y . I t was communicated t o me t h a t b e i n g a mother s h o u l d always t a k e p r e c e d e n t o v e r a n y t h i n g e l s e . I found m y s e l f h o l d i n g t h e same a t t i t u d e . F o r t u n a t e l y , my c h i l d r e n were always s u p p o r t i v e and u n d e r s t a n d i n g . I n s p i t e o f a l l the d i f f i c u l t i e s , a t t e n d i n g u n i v e r s i t y was v e r y s t i m u l a t i n g and r e w a r d i n g . I f e l t t h a t I had a chance t o grow t r e m e n d o u s l y and t h a t i t c o u l d o n l y b e n e f i t m y s e l f and my c h i l d r e n i n t h e f u t u r e . I n summary, my preknowledge o f the phenomenon c o n s i s t s of my own l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e , and t h e meaning I have g i v e n t o i t . I n p a r t i c u l a r , I assumed t h a t : 1. time c o n s t r a i n t s would be a f a c t o r i n s a t i s f y i n g b o t h the mother and t h e s t u d e n t r o l e ; 2. l a c k o f adequate f i n a n c e s would be a f a c t of l i f e f o r many s t u d e n t mothers, p o s s i b l y a d d i n g t o a l a c k o f time,-27 3. t h e mother r o l e would be seen as p r i m a r y by many s t u d e n t mothers and by s o c i e t y as a whole; 4. t h e u n i v e r s i t y as an i n s t i t u t i o n i s not p r e p a r e d t o accommodate women w i t h c h i l d r e n as a normal p a r t of i t s p o p u l a t i o n , but r a t h e r as an e x c e p t i o n t o the r u l e ; 5. women s t u d e n t s w i t h c h i l d r e n have a s t r o n g d e s i r e t o do w e l l i n s c h o o l ; and, 6. women who a t t e n d u n i v e r s i t y w h i l e t h e y r a i s e c h i l d r e n e x p e r i e n c e some k i n d of b e n e f i t from b e i n g a s t u d e n t - why e l s e would t h e y s t a y ? Participants A sub-group of seven women was s e l e c t e d from among the p a r t i c i p a n t s o f a l a r g e r s t u d y on s t r e s s and c o p i n g e x p e r i e n c e d by women who a r e s t u d e n t s and mothers a t t h e same ti m e (Long, L o v a t o , F r a n k i s h , & Bowie, 1995). T h i s l a r g e r s t u d y i n c l u d e d women i n un d e r g r a d u a t e and g r a d u a t e programmes. A l t h o u g h some r e s e a r c h has been done on gr a d u a t e s t u d e n t mothers, and mature g r a d u a t e s t u d e n t s , l i t t l e i s known about what i t i s l i k e t o be an u n d e r g r a d u a t e s t u d e n t and a l s o a mother. F o r t h i s r e a s on, the f o c u s o f t h i s t h e s i s was on undergra d u a t e women s t u d e n t s , e n r o l l e d i n a Western Canadian U n i v e r s i t y , who a l s o had c u s t o d y of one o r more c h i l d ( r e n ) . 28 Recruitment and Sampling Procedure R e c r u i t m e n t of p a r t i c i p a n t s was a c h i e v e d t h r o u g h p o s t e r s p l a c e d t h r o u g h o u t campus, t h r o u g h a d v e r t i s i n g i n s t u d e n t newspapers, and t h r o u g h word of mouth. Only t h o s e women who a c t u a l l y responded t o t h e n o t i c e s were i n c l u d e d i n t h e stu d y , and so t h e sample was i n i t i a l l y s e l f - s e l e c t e d . P a r t i c i p a n t s were p r e s c r e e n e d by t e l e p h o n e f o r s u i t a b i l i t y . They were r e q u i r e d t o be e n r o l l e d i n a u n i v e r s i t y programme, and be a c u s t o d i a l p a r e n t of an underage c h i l d a t t h e same t i m e . S e l e c t i o n o f p a r t i c i p a n t s was made by judgment s a m p l i n g (Bernard, 1994). F o r t h i s s tudy, o n l y u n d e r g r a d u a t e women were s e l e c t e d . I p e r s o n a l l y i n t e r v i e w e d a l l seven women. Participant C r i t e r i a To a v o i d u n i d i m e n s i o n a l r e p r e s e n t a t i o n , s e l e c t i o n was p u r p o s e f u l l y made so t h a t a v a r i e t y of f a c u l t i e s , y e a r s of st u d y , e t h n i c i t y , age of p a r t i c i p a n t , m a r i t a l s t a t u s , number of c h i l d r e n , and age of c h i l d r e n was r e p r e s e n t e d . Of t h e seven women, f o u r were e n r o l l e d i n v a r i o u s departments o f the A r t s f a c u l t y , one was i n S c i e n c e , one i n M e d i c i n e , and one was i n the F a c u l t y of Law. They ranged i n age from 28 t o 45 y e a r s , and had between one and s i x c h i l d r e n . Four of the women were s i n g l e and t h r e e l i v e d w i t h a p a r t n e r . I n terms of t h e i r s e l f - d e s c r i b e d e t h n i c i t y , t h r e e women c a l l e d themselves w h i t e Canadian, one 29 w h i t e E a s t e r n European, one w h i t e B r i t i s h , one N a t i v e N o r t h American, and one Chin e s e Canadian. Procedure The p a r t i c i p a n t s were s e l e c t e d and i n t e r v i e w e d as p a r t of the o r i g i n a l , l a r g e r s t u d y , u s i n g the f o l l o w i n g p r o c e d u r e s : Selection Procedure P o s t e r s and a d v e r t i s e m e n t s were p l a c e d a t s t r a t e g i c p l a c e s t h r o u g h o u t campus, i n v i t i n g women who were s t u d e n t s and mothers a t t h e same t i m e , and who e x p e r i e n c e d s t r e s s , t o t e l l us t h e i r s t o r y . An i n i t i a l t e l e p h o n e i n t e r v i e w s e r v e d t o s c r e e n r e s p o n d e n t s f o r s u i t a b i l i t y and t o p r o v i d e t h e women w i t h more i n f o r m a t i o n about t h e s t u d y . I t was s t r e s s e d t h a t we d i d not come w i t h r i g o r o u s p r e c o n c e i v e d n o t i o n s and q u e s t i o n s about what i t would be l i k e , t o be a s t u d e n t and a mother a t t h e same time, but t h a t we were i n t e r e s t e d i n each woman's p e r s o n a l f e e l i n g s and t h o u g h t s about t h e e x p e r i e n c e . To i n c r e a s e t h e l i k e l i h o o d of empathic u n d e r s t a n d i n g on the p a r t of t h e i n t e r v i e w e r s and t o encourage openness on the p a r t of t h e women b e i n g i n t e r v i e w e d , most of the members s e l e c t e d t o be p a r t o f t h e r e s e a r c h team were, o r had been a t one time , s t u d e n t mothers t h e m s e l v e s . A l l of the i n t e r v i e w e r s were s t u d e n t moms, a f a c t t h a t was i m p a r t e d t o t h e p a r t i c i p a n t s . Each woman 30 was a l s o asked a number of demographic q u e s t i o n s and was g i v e n t h e o p p o r t u n i t y t o ask q u e s t i o n s about the s t u d y h e r s e l f . A l i s t of p o t e n t i a l p a r t i c i p a n t s was e s t a b l i s h e d . The r e s e a r c h a s s i s t a n t s d e c i d e d , on a case by case b a s i s , whom t o i n t e r v i e w i n o r d e r t o e s t a b l i s h a b r o a d l y r e p r e s e n t a t i v e sample, as one o f t h e g o a l s of the l a r g e r s t u d y was t o a c h i e v e b r o a d r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of v a r i o u s demographic f a c t o r s . P a r t i c i p a n t s were t h e n s c h e d u l e d f o r a one-on-one i n t e r v i e w w i t h one of t h r e e r e s e a r c h a s s i s t a n t s . F o r t h i s s t u d y I d e c i d e d t o i n t e r v i e w o n l y women e n r o l l e d i n und e r g r a d u a t e programmes, but s t r i v e d t o a c h i e v e v a r i a b i l i t y w i t h i n t h i s group. The Interview When a woman had been s e l e c t e d t o be i n t e r v i e w e d , e v e r y e f f o r t was made t o make i t as easy as p o s s i b l e f o r h e r t o p a r t i c i p a t e . A t t e m p t s were made t o cu s t o m i z e t h e time and l o c a t i o n o f t h e i n t e r v i e w t o b e s t s u i t t h e women's needs. They were g i v e n t h e o p t i o n s of b e i n g i n t e r v i e w e d a t t h e i r home, the i n t e r v i e w e r ' s home, a t a l a b room on campus, o r some o t h e r l o c a t i o n s u i t a b l e f o r them. S i x o f the seven u n d e r g r a d u a t e women d e s c r i b e d i n t h i s s t u d y chose t o be i n t e r v i e w e d on campus i n the l a b . I n t e r v i e w s were conducted a t v a r i o u s t i m e s t h r o u g h o u t the day, whenever t h e women c o u l d f i t i t i n t o t h e i r schedules--some b e f o r e c l a s s e s , some a f t e r , most d u r i n g l u n c h t i m e . The 31 i n t e r v i e w room was s m a l l , i n t i m a t e , and window l e s s , and a 'Do not d i s t u r b ' s i g n was p l a c e d o u t s i d e t h e door d u r i n g the me e t i n g s . The development of t h e i n t e r v i e w p r o t o c o l was a combined e f f o r t of t h e r e s e a r c h team of the l a r g e r s t u d y . I n d e v e l o p i n g the i n t e r v i e w p r o t o c o l , t h e t h r e e r e s e a r c h a s s i s t a n t s conducted i n t e r v i e w s on each o t h e r , as w e l l as s e v e r a l p i l o t i n t e r v i e w s w i t h s t u d e n t s , w h i c h r e s u l t e d i n r e v i s i o n s t o t h e i n i t i a l p r o t o c o l . We a r r i v e d a t a v e r y open-ended format t h a t r e v o l v e d around t h e q u e s t i o n : 'What i s i t l i k e t o be a s t u d e n t and a mother a t t h e same t i m e ? ' Because q u a l i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h i s b e s t based on c o n c r e t e d e s c r i p t i o n s ( G i o r g i , 1985), each p a r t i c i p a n t was asked t o r e c a l l a r e c e n t t y p i c a l day and s p e c i f i c s t r e s s f u l event, and d e s c r i b e i t i n as much d e t a i l as p o s s i b l e . A t a p p r o p r i a t e t i m e s prompts were used t o f i n d out more about e x p l i c i t f e e l i n g s , t h o u g h t s , a c t i o n s , consequences, p r e c i p i t a t i n g f a c t o r s , and h e l p i n g o r h i n d e r i n g c i r c u m s t a n c e s . To end on a p o s i t i v e , a f f i r m i n g n o t e , we asked each woman a t t h e end of t h e i n t e r v i e w what q u a l i t i e s o r s t r a t e g i e s she f e l t she had t h a t a l l o w e d h e r t o d e a l w i t h t h e s t r e s s e s o f b e i n g a mother and a s t u d e n t a t t h e same t i m e . 32 B e f o r e t h e a c t u a l i n t e r v i e w , each p a r t i c i p a n t was asked t o s i g n a consent form, was r e a s s u r e d of c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y , and was asked t o p r o v i d e us w i t h a pseudonym we would t h e n use i n p l a c e of h e r name. The i n t e r v i e w s were a u d i o - t a p e d and l a s t e d between 1 and 3 h o u r s . Each i n t e r v i e w was t r a n s c r i b e d v e r b a t i m , r e v i e w e d by the i n t e r v i e w e r , and i d e n t i f y i n g i n f o r m a t i o n removed t o m a i n t a i n c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y . The i n t e r v i e w e r wrote a summary of t h e i n t e r v i e w , w h i c h was p r e s e n t e d t o the p a r t i c i p a n t a t a second i n t e r v i e w . Each woman was g i v e n the o p p o r t u n i t y t o r e a d t h i s summary. She was asked i f i t was an a c c u r a t e r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of what she had wanted t o convey d u r i n g the f i r s t i n t e r v i e w , and was encouraged t o c o r r e c t , add, o r d e l e t e a n y t h i n g she wanted. A summary o f t h e second i n t e r v i e w was t h e n p r e p a r e d . Data Analysis A n a l y s e s o f t h e seven i n t e r v i e w s s e l e c t e d f o r t h i s s t u d y proceeded p a r a l l e l t o t h e a n a l y s e s of the o r i g i n a l s t u d y . A t t i m e s , methods were o v e r l a p p i n g , but t h e s t a r t i n g p o i n t s , as w e l l as t h e q u e s t i o n s b e i n g asked of the d a t a , were d i f f e r e n t . F o r t h i s s t u d y , i t was t a k e n f o r g r a n t e d t h a t women who have c h i l d c a r e as w e l l as s t u d e n t r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s e x p e r i e n c e s t r e s s . Because l i t t l e e l s e i s known about t h i s s p e c i f i c p o p u l a t i o n , however, d e s c r i p t i o n s of e x p e r i e n c e s of t h e 33 phenomena o f b e i n g a 'student-mom 1 were sought, i n whi c h t h e d a t a would speak f o r themselves (Osborne, 1990). A ph e n o m e n o l o g i c a l approach was seen as the most a p p r o p r i a t e t o shed l i g h t on t h e every-day r e a l i t y e x p e r i e n c e d by t h e s e women (Van Manen, 1990). I was i n t e r e s t e d i n t h e i r r e a l i t y , c o n s t r u e d by the women v i a t h e meanings t h e y gave t o t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e s and by what t h e y p e r c e i v e d as b e i n g m i r r o r e d back t o them from t h e i r environment (Osborne, 1990). I l i s t e n e d t o , t h e n r e a d and r e -r e a d t h e i n t e r v i e w s w i t h t h i s p e r s p e c t i v e i n mind. Wanting t o e l u c i d a t e t h e l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e of b e i n g a 'student-mom' and the meaning d e r i v e d by each woman from t h a t l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e , I p a i d a t t e n t i o n t o tone of v o i c e , pauses, t e a r s w e l l i n g up, and o t h e r s i g n s o f emotion, as w e l l as the c o n t e n t of what was s a i d . Moreover, I was i n t e r e s t e d as much i n what was not s a i d as i n what was s a i d . Ongoing meetings and d i s c u s s i o n s as p a r t o f t h e r e s e a r c h group f o r t h e l a r g e r s t u d y were i n v a l u a b l e d u r i n g my a n a l y s i s , as t h e y s e r v e d t o c o n t r a s t my way o f l o o k i n g a t t h e d a t a , t h a t i s , p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l l y , w i t h the p e r s p e c t i v e of t h e o r i g i n a l s t u d y . A l t h o u g h a t t i m e s d i f f i c u l t , t h i s p r o c e s s o f w e a r i n g 'two h a t s ' p r o v e d h e l p f u l i n c l a r i f y i n g and r e - f o c u s i n g a g a i n and a g a i n on how t h e women e x p e r i e n c e d the phenomena, r a t h e r t h a n 34 what t h e y e x p e r i e n c e d , and added t o the v a l i d i t y o f t h e r e s e a r c h . Because t h e phe n o m e n o l o g i c a l method used here i s a k i n t o "the p r a c t i c e of s c i e n c e w i t h i n t h e c o n t e x t o f d i s c o v e r y " ( G i o r g i , 1985, p. 14), and because ack n o w l e d g i n g t h e r e s e a r c h e r ' s o r i e n t a t i o n i s p a r t of t h a t d i s c o v e r y p r o c e s s by s e t t i n g t h e p e r s p e c t i v e f o r t h e i n q u i r y , I began k e e p i n g an i n f o r m a l r e s e a r c h j o u r n a l from the moment I f i r s t c o n t a c t e d each woman. The purpose was t o c r e a t e a r e c o r d o f my r e a c t i o n s , t h o u g h t s , and q u e s t i o n s as th e y a r o s e , so t h a t I c o u l d r e f e r t o them l a t e r d u r i n g t h e a n a l y s i s s t a g e . A f t e r each i n i t i a l , as w e l l as the f o l l o w - u p i n t e r v i e w , the same p e r s o n a l p r o c e s s i n g o c c u r r e d , t h a t i s , I r e c o r d e d my tho u g h t s about each e x p e r i e n c e . T h i s d i f f e r e d from w r i t i n g summaries i n t h a t I f o c u s e d on how I had r e c e i v e d and r e a c t e d t o the i n f o r m a t i o n b e i n g o f f e r e d . The t r a n s c r i b e d i n t e r v i e w s were i n i t i a l l y r e a d w i t h an open mind s e t , h a v i n g no o t h e r p r e c o n c e p t i o n s t h a n t h e d e s i r e t o b r i n g t h e e x p e r i e n c e f r e s h i n t o mind and t o g e t a sense of what i t was l i k e f o r each woman t o be a s t u d e n t and a mother a t the same t i m e . A f t e r t h e i n i t i a l r e a d i n g , s u c c e s s i v e r e - r e a d i n g s of each i n t e r v i e w s e r v e d t o i d e n t i f y meaning u n i t s ( G i o r g i , 1985) of r e l e v a n c e t o t h e e x p e r i e n c e of b e i n g a student-mom. U s i n g my 35 n o t e s , and, a t t i m e s r e - l i s t e n i n g t o the a u d i o t a p e s , t h e a n a l y s i s p r o c e s s s p i r a l e d back upon i t s e l f a g a i n and a g a i n (Osborne, 1994) w i t h i n each i n t e r v i e w . T h i s h e r m e n e u t i c c i r c l e ( P o l k i n g h o r n e , 1983) h e l p e d me t o d i s c o v e r themes t h a t emerged from t h e meaning u n i t s t h a t t h e n g u i d e d the d i r e c t i o n i n which a n a l y s i s c o n t i n u e d . Throughout the p r o c e s s , I t r i e d t o keep i n mind my own b i a s e s and e x p e c t a t i o n s , and t o remind m y s e l f t h a t e x a m i n a t i o n of t h e d a t a happened t h r o u g h t h i s f i l t e r . When a l l i n t e r v i e w s had been p r o c e s s e d i n t h i s way, an a c r o s s - i n t e r v i e w a n a l y s i s began. T h i s r e q u i r e d comparing meaning u n i t s and themes amongst a l l seven i n t e r v i e w s , a g a i n s p i r a l i n g back a g a i n and a g a i n , u n t i l meta-themes of meaning b e h i n d the l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e emerged. Van Manen (1990) speaks of e s s e n t i a l themes, l i k e l y t o be found w i t h o t h e r members o f t h e p a r t i c u l a r p o p u l a t i o n , as opposed t o i n c i d e n t a l themes, s p e c i f i c t o i n d i v i d u a l c i r c u m s t a n c e s . I t was o f t e n n e c e s s a r y t o r e t u r n t o the o r i g i n a l s o u r c e , t h a t i s , t o r e t u r n t o t h e quote, i n i t s c o n t e x t , t o be a b l e t o dete r m i n e whether the meaning o r theme was t r u l y a s h a r e d one, o r s p e c i f i c t o t h e p a r t i c u l a r c i r c u m s t a n c e s o f t h a t woman. The r e f l e x i v i t y of t h i s p r o c e s s - - g o i n g from t h e p a r t i c u l a r t o t h e g e n e r a l , from t h e i n d i v i d u a l woman t o t h e group, and back again--meant t h a t a n a l y s i s d i d not p r o c e e d i n d i s t i n c t chunks o r s t e p s , b u t i n s p i r a l - l i k e c i r c u l a r m o t i ons, sometimes w i d e n i n g , sometimes n a r r o w i n g , u n t i l I was s a t i s f i e d t h a t t h e i n f o r m a t i o n i n t h e d a t a had been exhausted, and t h a t a l l t h a t c o u l d be d i s c o v e r e d w i t h r e g a r d t o the r e s e a r c h q u e s t i o n had reasonably-been d i s c o v e r e d . A s i m i l a r r e f l e x i v e p r o c e s s was n e c e s s a r y t o examine whether t h e meanings d e r i v e d from t h e d a t a were th o s e e x p r e s s e d as t h e l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e of the women, o r whether, and t o what degree, t h e y were t i n t e d by my p e r s p e c t i v e . T h i s r e f l e x i v i t y i s what Van Manen (1990) c a l l s "a p r o c e s s of r e f l e c t i v e l y a p p r o p r i a t i n g , o f c l a r i f y i n g , and o f making e x p l i c i t t h e s t r u c t u r e of meaning of t h e l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e " (p. 77). I t was not a m e c h a n i c a l , s t e p - w i s e l a b o u r , b u t , as Van Manen (1990) d e s c r i b e s i t , a p r o c e s s o f i n t e r p r e t i n g i t s meaning, more a c c u r a t e l y d e s c r i b e d as " i n s i g h t f u l i n v e n t i o n , d i s c o v e r y o r d i s c l o s u r e - - g r a s p i n g and f o r m u l a t i n g a t h e m a t i c u n d e r s t a n d i n g i s not a r u l e - b o u n d p r o c e s s but a f r e e a c t of ' s e e i n g ' meaning" (p. 7 9 ) . F i n a l l y , a " s y n t h e s i s of the t r a n s f o r m e d meaning u n i t s i n t o a c o n s i s t e n t s t a t e m e n t " ( G i o r g i , 1985, p.19) of t h e l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e , and t h e r e f o r e the p s y c h o l o g i c a l s t r u c t u r e of what i t i s l i k e t o be a s t u d e n t and a mother a t t h e same t i m e , was a c h i e v e d . 37 S U M M A R Y The g o a l of t h i s s t u d y was t o e l u c i d a t e the every-day l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e o f b e i n g a mother and a s t u d e n t a t t h e same t i m e . Because I wanted t o know not o n l y what a c t u a l l y happened, but a l s o how women make sense o f , and g i v e meaning t o t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e s , I chose a ph e n o m e n o l o g i c a l r e s e a r c h method. 38 CHAPTER IV RESULTS DESCRIPTION OF EACH PARTICIPANT I n o r d e r t o p r o v i d e a more comprehensive p i c t u r e of each p a r t i c i p a n t , a b r i e f d e s c r i p t i o n o f each woman's demographics, r e l e v a n t h i s t o r y , and l i f e c i r c u m s t a n c e s a t t h e time of the i n t e r v i e w s i s i n c l u d e d h e r e . A l s o r e f l e c t e d i n t h e s e d e s c r i p t i o n s a r e my i m p r e s s i o n s o f , and th o u g h t s about each woman d u r i n g t h e i n t e r v i e w , as I had r e c o r d e d them i n my d i a r y . The d e s c r i p t i o n s a r e l i s t e d i n a l p h a b e t i c a l o r d e r o f t h e pseudonyms t h e women had p i c k e d f o r t h e m s e l v e s . Emma Emma s t r u c k me as an i n t e n s e , young l o o k i n g m i d - t h i r t i e s woman, who i s m a r r i e d and has a 3 1/2 y e a r o l d d a u g h t e r . She em i g r a t e d from e a s t e r n Europe 4 y e a r s ago, when she was 5 months p r e g n a n t . I n h e r c o u n t r y of o r i g i n she had a t t e n d e d m e d i c a l s c h o o l and had been c l o s e t o f i n i s h i n g when she had become pre g n a n t . She and h e r husband d e c i d e d t h a t t h e y wanted t h e i r c h i l d t o be b o r n i n Canada. Emma was a l o n e i n h e r new c o u n t r y , w i t h no f r i e n d s o r f a m i l y , when she gave b i r t h , b ut h e r husband f o l l o w e d h e r s h o r t l y t h e r e a f t e r . Emma gave up h e r c a r e e r p l a n s and s t a r t e d o v e r a g a i n , because h e r p r e v i o u s s t u d i e s were not f u l l y r e c o g n i z e d h e r e . She 39 d i s c o v e r e d a r e l a t e d f i e l d , w h i c h had not been o f f e r e d i n h e r home c o u n t r y , and s t a r t e d i n t h i s d i r e c t i o n . She i s i n h e r t h i r d y e a r o f a 4 y e a r programme. J u s t when she f e l t t h a t she had made some headway, had o r g a n i z e d h e r r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s , and c o u l d see an end t o h e r s t u d i e s i n s i g h t , she found out t h a t she i s pregnant a g a i n - - t h i s t i me w i t h t w i n s . A t the time of the f i r s t i n t e r v i e w she was i n her f i f t h month of pregnancy. B e i n g pregnant a g a i n threw h e r i n t o a p a n i c , as she saw h e r c a r e e r p l a n s t h r e a t e n e d f o r a second t i m e . Her husband i s out o f town f r e q u e n t l y , sometimes f o r 2 weeks a t a ti m e , l e a v i n g h e r i n e f f e c t a s i n g l e p a r e n t . As she had r e q u e s t e d , my meeting w i t h Emma was a r r a n g e d t o c o i n c i d e w i t h a f r e e p e r i o d she had on campus, so t h a t she would not have t o make a l t e r n a t e arrangements f o r h e r d a u g h t e r . T h i s young woman seemed q u i t e e a r n e s t and f o c u s e d , and when I found out t h a t she had a l r e a d y n e a r l y completed a m e d i c a l degree, I c o u l d u n d e r s t a n d my i m p r e s s i o n . She had a l r e a d y d e a l t w i t h many a d v e r s i t i e s , and had overcome them, and t h i s c o n f i d e n c e i n b e i n g a b l e t o work t h i n g s out c l e a r l y showed. Emma seemed v e r y p o i s e d , s i t t i n g e r e c t , f o c u s i n g on th e q u e s t i o n s and f o r m u l a t i n g h e r answers c a r e f u l l y . Only when she spoke about f i n d i n g out t h a t she was pr e g n a n t a g a i n , d i d I sense p a n i c and d i s a p p o i n t m e n t . She seemed, i n i t i a l l y , t o f e a r t h a t she a g a i n c o u l d not f i n i s h 40 h e r degree and when t a l k i n g about t h a t , h e r v o i c e became q u i e t and d e f e a t e d . She had e x p l o r e d h e r o p t i o n s , however, and found t h a t she may be a b l e t o f i n i s h , t a k i n g p a r t time c o u r s e s . A l s o , the s u p p o r t and accommodation of h e r department gave h e r hope and c o n f i d e n c e . Her a t t i t u d e of d e a l i n g w i t h problems as t h e y come a l o n g , one by one, seems t o have s e r v e d h e r w e l l b e f o r e , and she had r e g a i n e d t h e c o n f i d e n c e of someone who b e l i e v e s i t would work f o r h e r a g a i n . H a v i n g been an emigrant m y s e l f , I c o u l d r e l a t e t o h e r e x p e r i e n c e o f coming t o t h i s c o u n t r y , l e a r n i n g t h e language, making new f r i e n d s , but f e e l i n g q u i t e a l o n e a t t i m e s . I a l s o c o u l d r e l a t e t o h e r d e t e r m i n a t i o n t o make t h i n g s work, a k i n d of p i o n e e r s p i r i t . Emma was g r a t e f u l f o r the r e s o u r c e l i s t we p r o v i d e d f o r a l l p a r t i c i p a n t s , as she s a i d she had not much time t o l o o k f o r t h e s e t h i n g s h e r s e l f . Irene T h i s p a r t i c i p a n t i s a d i v o r c e d , 41-year o l d , w h i t e mother of t h r e e c h i l d r e n . Her o l d e s t c h i l d , a 20-year o l d daughter, l i v e s on h e r own, but h e r two sons, aged 7 and 5, l i v e w i t h I r e n e . Up u n t i l 5 months ago, I r e n e had l i v e d w i t h a p a r t n e r , but s i n c e t h e n has been a s i n g l e p a r e n t . The f a t h e r of h e r c h i l d r e n i s not p a r t of t h e i r l i v e s . 41 I r e n e i s i n h e r f i r s t y e a r a t a p r o f e s s i o n a l s c h o o l . She had 2 y e a r s o f g e n e r a l u n d e r g r a d u a t e A r t s e d u c a t i o n b e f o r e coming t o t h i s u n i v e r s i t y . She l i v e s o f f campus w i t h h e r two sons, and has a 35 minute d r i v e t o s c h o o l . When I r e n e c o n t a c t e d me, she s a i d she p r e f e r r e d t o meet on campus, but t h a t she d i d not know the campus v e r y w e l l . I n f a c t , a s i d e from h e r own f a c u l t y , t h e Student U n i o n B u i l d i n g , and the book s t o r e , she does not know he r way around a t a l l . She s t a t e d t h a t she o n l y spends th e a b s o l u t e minimum time she can on campus. N o r m a l l y , she would work d u r i n g h e r b r e a k s , but she s a i d t h a t she r e a l l y wanted t o p a r t i c i p a t e i n t h i s s t u d y , because she f e l t i t might be good f o r h e r t o t a l k about h e r e x p e r i e n c e s . I r e n e ' s demeanor was somewhat h a r r i e d and a n x i o u s , and h e r a t t i r e was not what I had e x p e c t e d from a s t u d e n t i n h e r f a c u l t y . She was d r e s s e d i n what seemed t o be second hand c l o t h e s , and gave th e i m p r e s s i o n of a 'poor' p e r s o n . Her a t t i t u d e t oward s c h o o l , however, seemed v e r y g o a l d i r e c t e d , and almost d r i v e n . Joanne T h i s p a r t i c i p a n t i s a 45-year o l d , w h i t e , m a r r i e d mother of s i x c h i l d r e n , r a n g i n g i n age from 10 t o 24 y e a r s . They i n c l u d e h e r t h r e e sons from h e r f i r s t m a r r i a g e , as w e l l as one more son and two d a u g h t e r s she had w i t h h e r c u r r e n t husband. F i v e of her 42 c h i l d r e n s t i l l l i v e a t home. One son i s e m o t i o n a l l y u n s t a b l e , and has a t t e m p t e d s u i c i d e . Joanne l i v e s i n t h e suburbs w i t h h e r f a m i l y , i n a r e n t e d home. Her husband t r a v e l s e x t e n s i v e l y on b u s i n e s s , and Joanne f e e l s t h a t t h e h o u s e h o l d and t a k i n g c a r e of the f a m i l y always end up b e i n g h e r r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . Joanne i s i n h e r t h i r d y e a r of a s c i e n c e u n d e r g r a d u a t e programme. She had s t a r t e d g o i n g back t o s c h o o l many y e a r s ago, by t a k i n g e v e n i n g c o u r s e s , one by one. Her t e a c h e r s , a l l a l o n g , had been v e r y s u p p o r t i v e and e n c o u r a g i n g , so much so t h a t she was s u r p r i s e d and f e l t t h a t t h e y b e l i e v e d i n h e r a b i l i t i e s more th a n she d i d . T h i s i s t h e f i r s t y e a r i n wh i c h Joanne has att e m p t e d t o c a r r y a f u l l c o u r s e l o a d . A l r e a d y , though, she has had t o drop two c o u r s e s , a f t e r f a c i n g m u l t i p l e o b s t a c l e s . She now c o n s i d e r s h a v i n g t o drop even more c o u r s e s i n o r d e r t o be a b l e t o m a i n t a i n a decent average mark. I n my t e l e p h o n e i n t e r v i e w w i t h Joanne, she emphasized j u s t how much o f a c a n d i d a t e f o r our s t r e s s s t u d y she would be, because she f e l t h e r s t r e s s was j u s t coming t o a peak, and she f e a r e d i t would make h e r p h y s i c a l l y s i c k . She s t a t e d she had a l r e a d y had s h i n g l e s , and t h a t she f e l t t h a t t h i s had been a r e s u l t of t h e s t r e s s she i s under. One of the f i r s t t h i n g s Joanne s a i d t o me was t h a t i t would be h a r d f o r h e r t o s e p a r a t e th e s t r e s s a r i s i n g out of t h e c o n f l i c t of b e i n g a mother and a s t u d e n t , from b e i n g a w i f e . I n o t h e r words, she wanted t o know i f we r e c o g n i z e d t h a t a husband may f i g u r e i n t o t h i s c o n f l i c t as w e l l . I n f a c t , h e r b i g g e s t s t r e s s seems t o be t h a t she may have t o f a c e h a v i n g t o choose between c o n t i n u i n g h e r s t u d i e s and c o n t i n u i n g b e i n g a w i f e . Joanne appeared i n worn c l o t h e s , and seemed l i k e a p e r s o n who i s used t o c o n s i d e r i n g o t h e r s ' needs b e f o r e h e r own. She seemed o r g a n i z e d and f o c u s e d , as was apparent when she t o l d me t h a t she had f i g u r e d out e x a c t l y how much time she c o u l d spend w i t h me, and s t i l l b eat the rush- h o u r t r a f f i c home. D u r i n g t h e i n t e r v i e w , I f e l t m y s e l f e x p e r i e n c i n g p i t y f o r Joanne and t h e dilemma she found h e r s e l f i n . She d e s c r i b e d a v e r y u n s u p p o r t i v e husband, who even b o y c o t t s h e r s t u d i e s . Joanne and h e r c h i l d r e n a r e f i n a n c i a l l y dependent on h e r husband and she f e e l s she would not be a b l e t o c o n t i n u e h e r s t u d i e s i f she l e f t him. F a c i n g t h e p o s s i b i l i t y of h a v i n g t o drop out of s c h o o l , t h a t i s , l o s i n g t h i s p a r t of h e r i d e n t i t y , she f e l t would be "the end of h e r . " I do not b e l i e v e t h a t she i s a c t i v e l y s u i c i d a l , b u t I c e r t a i n l y c o u l d t e l l how i m p o r t a n t t h i s p a r t of her l i f e i s t o her, and how d e v a s t a t e d she would be i f she had t o g i v e i t up. I f e l t m y s e l f g e t t i n g angry t h a t she s h o u l d have t o make such a c h o i c e , o r t h a t i t c o u l d be made f o r h e r . T r y i n g t o g i v e h e r encouragement and s u p p o r t , I p o i n t e d out as many 44 s u p p o r t o r g a n i z a t i o n s on and o f f campus as I c o u l d . I found t h a t I wanted t o do what I c o u l d t o h e l p h e r s t a y i n s c h o o l , because I c o u l d sense what i t means t o her, and a l s o because i t i s so r a r e t o f i n d a mature woman who e x c e l s i n t h e s c i e n c e s . Marianne Marianne i s a 37-year o l d s i n g l e p a r e n t o f a 7-year o l d daug h t e r . She i s i n h e r f o u r t h y e a r of an un d e r g r a d u a t e A r t s programme, h e r second y e a r a t t h i s u n i v e r s i t y , a f t e r 2.5 y e a r s a t a c o l l e g e i n h e r home town. When I i n i t i a l l y c o n t a c t e d Marianne, she was not sure i f and when she c o u l d f i n d t h e time t o p a r t i c i p a t e , b u t s a i d t h a t she r e a l l y wanted t o . She c a l l e d me back w i t h 2 o p t i o n s when she was g o i n g t o be on campus and had two hours a v a i l a b l e . A t our i n t e r v i e w , Marianne s t r u c k me as a t a l l , proud, n a t i v e I n d i a n p r i n c e s s . She d i d not p r o v i d e i n f o r m a t i o n about h e r c u l t u r a l background on t h e demographic q u e s t i o n n a i r e , but h e r hometown and h e r name a r e c l u e s i n d i c a t i n g a n a t i v e I n d i a n h e r i t a g e . A t a l a t e r d a t e , she c o n f i r m e d my hunch. I wondered why she would not want t o t a l k about h e r c u l t u r a l o r i g i n . M arianne c l a i m s t h a t she was i l l i t e r a t e when she g r a d u a t e d from h i g h s c h o o l , and t h a t she g r a d u a l l y t a u g h t h e r s e l f t o r e a d and w r i t e . She s t a t e d t h a t she does not want h e r da u g h t e r t o grow up i g n o r a n t , as she f e l t she had been. I sensed, a g a i n , 45 t h i s f e e l i n g of d e t e r m i n a t i o n and p r i d e from h e r , but a l s o f r u s t r a t i o n , e x h a u s t i o n , p a n i c , and anger. I e x p e r i e n c e d Marianne as v e r y e x p r e s s i v e of h e r emotions, v e r b a l l y as w e l l as n o n - v e r b a l l y . I e n j o y e d t h e i n t e r v i e w w i t h h e r , b u t a l s o f e l t and c o u l d s ympathize w i t h h e r f r u s t r a t i o n s and p a n i c , as she r e l a y e d e x p e r i e n c e s I have had m y s e l f . Marianne has h e l d two p a r t - t i m e j o b s u n t i l 5 months ago, on to p of h e r s t u d i e s , and b e i n g a s i n g l e p a r e n t . R e c e i v i n g a b u r s a r y s h o r t l y b e f o r e C h r i s t m a s e n a b l e d h e r t o q u i t one of h e r j o b s s i n c e t h e n . Marianne owns a house i n h e r home town, w h i c h she r e n t s out w h i l e she i s a t u n i v e r s i t y . F o r t h i s r e a s o n , she was t o l d i n i t i a l l y t h a t she would not q u a l i f y f o r a b u r s a r y . She was a f r a i d t h a t she might have t o g i v e up h e r s t u d i e s when h e r f i n a n c e s r a n o u t . But w i t h the h e l p of t h e Women S t u d e n t s ' O f f i c e , and a mature women's group she now b e l o n g s t o , she found out t h a t she c o u l d a p p l y f o r a b u r s a r y , w h i c h she t h e n d i d . M a r ianne's f i n a n c i a l d i f f i c u l t i e s a r e p a r t i a l l y due t o debt s she c a r r i e s from a r e l a t i o n s h i p t h a t ended l a s t y e a r . She i s p a y i n g down a s u b s t a n t i a l c r e d i t c a r d d e b t . She has no f a m i l y s u p p o r t , and t h e f a t h e r o f h e r c h i l d i s not i n v o l v e d i n h e r u p b r i n g i n g . 46 Mary Mary i s a 3 5-year o l d , w h i t e s i n g l e p a r e n t w i t h one son, who i s 2 y e a r s and 2 months o l d . She i s i n h e r f i n a l y e a r of a F i n e A r t s programme and w i l l b e g i n a M a s t e r ' s degree r i g h t a f t e r w a r d . She has r e c e n t l y come from England, and broke up w i t h h e r p a r t n e r , t h e f a t h e r of h e r son j u s t b e f o r e she e n t e r e d t h i s u n i v e r s i t y . Mary l i v e s i n t h e same h o u s i n g complex as I , but a s i d e from h e r name, I knew n o t h i n g about h e r . When asked i f she would p r e f e r t o be i n t e r v i e w e d by someone e l s e , she answered i n the n e g a t i v e . She s t a t e d t h a t she r e a l l y would want t o be i n t e r v i e w e d i n t h e e v e n i n g o r on weekends i n h e r home, so t h a t she c o u l d be w i t h h e r son, whi c h would be e a s i e s t i f I were t o i n t e r v i e w h e r . Her son had been baby-sat by one o f Mary's women f r i e n d s , who, when we a r r i v e d , l e f t . Mary i n t r o d u c e d me t o h e r son, and t h e n popped a c h i l d r e n ' s v i d e o i n t o t h e v i d e o machine, s a y i n g t h a t t h i s s h o u l d keep him o c c u p i e d f o r a w h i l e . Mary's eyes were on h e r son d u r i n g the whole i n t e r v i e w . Her answers were r e l a t i v e l y b r i e f and d i d not go deep i n t o any s u b j e c t . I t f e l t l i k e t h e p r o v e r b i a l p u l l i n g of t e e t h . I soon f e l t as i f I was i n t r u d i n g and l i m i t i n g t h e i r a l r e a d y s p a r s e t i m e t o g e t h e r . Mary d i d not v o l u n t e e r much d e t a i l e d i n f o r m a t i o n , and seemed u n a b l e t o be f u l l y f o c u s e d on 47 t h e i n t e r v i e w . When the c h i l d ' s v i d e o had ended, h e r son came o v e r t o us and began t o demand a t t e n t i o n . He proceeded t o the book case and p u l l e d a l l the books out, dumping them on the f l o o r . Mary commented t h a t he does not l i k e i t when she i s not f o c u s e d on him i n the e v e n i n g s . She d i d n o t h i n g t o i n h i b i t o r d i s t r a c t t h e boy, but i n s t e a d became l e s s and l e s s a b l e t o f o c u s on t h e i n t e r v i e w . F i n a l l y , Mary s a i d she would l i k e t o put h e r son t o bed. A f t e r d i s c u s s i n g how t o p r o c e e d , t h a t i s , i f we s h o u l d c o n t i n u e on a n o t h e r day, o r i f I s h o u l d w a i t , she s u g g e s t e d t o " j u s t f i n i s h now," i f i t would not t a k e much l o n g e r . N e e d l e s s t o say, I f e l t p r e s s u r e d t o be b r i e f , but t r i e d h a r d t o remember what I s t i l l needed t o ask. We t a l k e d f o r a n o t h e r 5 m i n u t e s , and t h e n c l o s e d t h e i n t e r v i e w . My f e e l i n g a f t e r t h e i n t e r v i e w was one o f f r u s t r a t i o n , but a l s o of j u s t h a v i n g w i t n e s s e d f i r s t hand th e d i v i d e d f e e l i n g s of a s t u d e n t mother, who e n j o y e d b o t h b e i n g w i t h h e r c h i l d , and h e r s t u d i e s , b u t who f e l t g u i l t y about t a k i n g t ime from b e i n g w i t h h e r son. I f e l t t h a t t h e r e was as much e x p r e s s e d by what had not been s a i d as by what had been s a i d . Sarah Sarah i s a 4 5 - y e a r o l d 4 t h y e a r u n d e r g r a d u a t e A r t s s t u d e n t of C h i n e s e h e r i t a g e . She i s t h e s i n g l e p a r e n t of a 2 ^ y e a r o l d , 48 adopted boy, who came t o l i v e w i t h h e r a t t h e age of 10 months. Sarah had t r i e d t o become pre g n a n t , and t h e n t o a^opt, f o r over 15 y e a r s . She i s a massage t h e r a p i s t who had a s u c c e s s f u l p r a c t i c e f o r 16 y e a r s . However, she d e v e l o p e d C a r p a l Tunnel Syndrome, t h a t i s , she had c h r o n i c a l l y i n f l a m e d w r i s t s , and c o u l d n o t work a t h e r p r o f e s s i o n any l o n g e r . She d e c i d e d t o s e l l h e r p r a c t i c e and go back t o s c h o o l . As a young woman, she had done 2 y e a r s of und e r g r a d u a t e s t u d i e s , and had always p l a n n e d t o go back. Her r e - e n t r y i n t o s t u d e n t l i f e c o i n c i d e d w i t h the a d o p t i o n o f h e r son. D u r i n g h e r f i r s t y e a r back a t s c h o o l , h e r 3 r d y e a r i n an und e r g r a d u a t e A r t s programme, she became i l l w i t h M o n o n u c l e o s i s . That y e a r had been f i n a n c e d t h r o u g h d i s a b i l i t y i n s u r a n c e and RRSPs, b u t t h i s y e a r she has had t o t a k e out a s t u d e n t l o a n . Sarah l i v e s a l o n e w i t h h e r son, o f f campus, and s t a t e s t h a t she has m a i n l y women f r i e n d s . When I f i r s t c o n t a c t e d Sarah, she s a i d she r e a l l y was i n t e r e s t e d i n p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n t h i s s t u d y , but was, a t t h a t moment, u n a b l e t o do so because h e r son was i l l w i t h whooping cough. We agr e e d t o t a l k a g a i n 3 weeks l a t e r , by whi c h time h e r son was w e l l a g a i n . Sarah, however, had f a l l e n so f a r b e h i n d i n h e r a s s i g n m e n t s and s t u d i e s t h a t she f e l t she c o u l d not t a k e the time t h i s t i me e i t h e r . We a g a i n postponed. One month l a t e r , we 49 f i n a l l y met on campus, when she had a 2 hour b r e a k between h e r c l a s s e s . My f i r s t i m p r e s s i o n was t h a t of a young, e n e r g e t i c , p u r p o s e f u l woman. She has s h o r t h a i r and wears p r a c t i c a l , no f r i l l s c l o t h i n g . She s m i l e d a t me warmly, and had an open, d i r e c t a pproach t o t a l k i n g w i t h me. I f e l t we were b o t h a t ease w i t h each o t h e r . Sarah s a i d she was g l a d t h a t we c o u l d meet d u r i n g s c h o o l h o u r s , because she would not want t o t a k e time away from t h e time she had w i t h h e r son i n t h e e v e n i n g . She a l s o s t a t e d , however, t h a t she f e l t i t was i m p o r t a n t t o h e r t o share h e r e x p e r i e n c e s , because she f e l t she had e x p e r i e n c e d a l o t of s t r e s s l a t e l y . D u r i n g t h e i n t e r v i e w , Sarah's eyes t e a r e d o v e r s e v e r a l t i m e s , when she t a l k e d about h e r f e e l i n g s of g u i l t a t l e a v i n g h e r son i n d a y c a r e , t h e f a c t t h a t h e r son had been abandoned a t the age o f 1 month, and t h a t she, Sarah, was ' a l l he has.' A t the end o f t h e i n t e r v i e w , Sarah acknowledged t h a t some o f h e r sadness and g u i l t r e l a t e t o h e r own e x p e r i e n c e s as a c h i l d . T h i s woman f e l t c l e a r l y r e l i e v e d t o have been a b l e t o t a l k about h e r e x p e r i e n c e s , and she was happy t o c o n t r i b u t e t o the i n v e s t i g a t i o n i n t o t h e p l i g h t of s t u d e n t moms. She a p p r e c i a t e d t h e r e s o u r c e l i s t she was o f f e r e d , and e x p l a i n e d : as a s t u d e n t mom "you don't have the time t o go l o o k f o r r e s o u r c e s . " 50 Tara T a r a i s a 34-year o l d w h i t e , s i n g l e p a r e n t o f two c h i l d r e n , a 13-year o l d boy, and a 10-year o l d g i r l . She s h a r e s c u s t o d y w i t h t h e c h i l d r e n ' s f a t h e r , who l i v e s i n a d i f f e r e n t p r o v i n c e . The c h i l d r e n v i s i t and spend h o l i d a y s w i t h t h e i r f a t h e r . T a r a i s i n h e r 4 t h y e a r o f un d e r g r a d u a t e s t u d i e s i n an A r t s programme, w i t h a minor i n Women's S t u d i e s . She l i v e s i n f a m i l y h o u s i n g on campus w i t h h e r c h i l d r e n , who a l s o a t t e n d t h e u n i v e r s i t y s c h o o l . T a ra's income c o n s i s t s of s t u d e n t l o a n and p a r t - t i m e work. T a r a seemed v e r y eager t o be i n t e r v i e w e d . We met t h e day a f t e r I i n i t i a l l y c o n t a c t e d her, and she s t a t e d she was g l a d t o spend h e r l u n c h time p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n t h i s s t u d y . D u r i n g our i n i t i a l t e l e p h o n e c o n t a c t , T a r a i n d i c a t e d t h a t she f e l t t h e s u b j e c t o f s t u d e n t mom s t r e s s needed t o be i n v e s t i g a t e d more, and t h a t she b e l i e v e d she c e r t a i n l y had something t o c o n t r i b u t e . She wanted t o know what t h i s s t u d y "would be used f o r , " and I e x p l a i n e d t h a t o ur aim i s t o i n c r e a s e awareness and u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f t h e phenomena. When r e a d i n g t h e i n f o r m e d consent form, T a r a c h u c k l e d about the r e f e r e n c e t o s t u d e n t mothers' s t r e s s , as i f t o say t h a t she c o u l d r e l a t e o n l y t o o w e l l . My i m p r e s s i o n of T a r a was of a grounded, v e r y s e l f - a w a r e young woman. She seemed o r g a n i z e d and on top o f t h i n g s . I f e e l 51 t h a t we ' h i t i t o f f from the b e g i n n i n g and t h a t she t r u s t e d me and f e l t t h a t I c o u l d r e l a t e t o h e r and she t o me. D u r i n g t h e i n t e r v i e w , I d e t e c t e d a s a r c a s t i c tone i n T a r a ' s v o i c e a t s e v e r a l p o i n t s . She seemed f r u s t r a t e d and h o p e l e s s a t t h o s e t i m e s , and even c r i e d . T h i s happened when she t a l k e d about t h e low marks she had r e c e i v e d i n an exam w r i t t e n a f t e r b e i n g awake w i t h h e r s i c k c h i l d the n i g h t b e f o r e , as w e l l as when t a l k i n g about not b e i n g a b l e t o a f f o r d t h e time and money f o r enough, o r v e r y n o u r i s h i n g f o o d f o r h e r s e l f . T h i s theme of f o o d r e a p p e a r e d d u r i n g o ur second i n t e r v i e w as w e l l . T a r a i s of average t o low w e i g h t . T a r a ' s i n f o r m a t i o n about g r a d s c h o o l r e q u i r e m e n t s , and f u n d i n g a v a i l a b i l i t y and e l i g i b i l i t y was o b v i o u s l y i n c o m p l e t e , and I f e l t she would have b e n e f i t e d from h e a r i n g from o t h e r s t u d e n t moms about t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e s . I s h a r e d w i t h h e r my p e r s o n a l u n d e r s t a n d i n g of t h e p r o c e s s and the a v a i l a b l e h e l p , and a l s o gave h e r our r e s o u r c e l i s t , w h i c h she g r a t e f u l l y a c c e p t e d . I f e l t t h a t the e x p e r i e n c e of e x a m i n i n g h e r s t r e s s e s r e l a t e d t o b e i n g a s t u d e n t and a mom added t o h e r s e l f awareness, as she, f o r i n s t a n c e , remarked t h a t she had not been aware how u p s e t she was about h e r low mark. T a r a r e i t e r a t e d , a g a i n and a g a i n , h e r f r u s t r a t i o n w i t h t h e "system," which, she 52 f e l t , advantages s i n g l e , young, w h i t e s t u d e n t s , and d i s a d v a n t a g e s mothers. V e n t i n g t h i s , i n t h e hope o f c o n t r i b u t i n g t o some change, she acknowledged, made h e r f e e l b e t t e r . EMERGING THEMES Phenomenology as a methodology " t r i e s t o ward o f f any tendency toward c o n s t r u c t i n g a p r e d e t e r m i n e d s e t o f f i x e d p r o c e d u r e s , t e c h n i q u e s , and con c e p t s t h a t would r u l e - g o v e r n the r e s e a r c h p r o j e c t " and "i n d e e d i t has been s a i d t h a t 'the method of phenomenology and her m e n e u t i c s i s t h a t t h e r e i s no method'" (Van Manen, 1990, p. 2 9 ) . I n s t e a d , one has t o be a b l e " t o s i t w i t h u n c e r t a i n t y " ( p e r s o n a l communication, Van Manen, A p r i l , 1998). Through c o u n t l e s s r e a d i n g s and r e - r e a d i n g s o f the t r a n s c r i b e d i n t e r v i e w s as w e l l as my n o t e s , and t h r o u g h b r i n g i n g t h e i n t e r v i e w s t o l i f e a g a i n by r e - l i s t e n i n g t o t h e a u d i o t a p e s , meaning u n i t s were i d e n t i f i e d . These meaning u n i t s , combined w i t h i n and a c r o s s i n t e r v i e w s , e v e n t u a l l y emerged as common themes, a p r o c e s s Van Manen (1990) d e s c r i b e s as " i n s i g h t f u l i n v e n t i o n , d i s c o v e r y o r d i s c l o s u r e " (p. 79). The f o l l o w i n g themes attempt t o g i v e shape t o t h e n o t i o n s o f meaning t h a t emerged as a s p e c t s of t h e l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e of each of the p a r t i c i p a t i n g s t u d e n t moms, and d e s c r i b e i t s b a s i c s t r u c t u r e . 1. Theme: The l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e of s t u d e n t mothers i n v o l v e s h a v i n g t o f a c e c o n f l i c t i n g demands. 53 2 . Theme: The l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e of s t u d e n t mothers l e a d s t o f e e l i n g s of g u i l t and inadequacy. 3 . Theme: The l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e of s t u d e n t mothers i n d u c e s h e l p l e s s n e s s and f r u s t r a t i o n . 4 . Theme: The l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e o f s t u d e n t mothers f o s t e r s a l i e n a t i o n and d i s c o n n e c t i o n . 5. Theme: The l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e of s t u d e n t mothers c o n t r i b u t e s t o s e l f n e g l e c t . 6. Theme: The l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e of s t u d e n t mothers encompasses anger, resentment, and q u e s t i o n i n g o f t h e s t a t u s quo. 7. Theme: The l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e of s t u d e n t mothers f a c i l i t a t e s r e - d e f i n i t i o n o f : s e l f as mother, s e l f as s t u d e n t , the r o l e of f a m i l y and f r i e n d s , t h e r o l e of t h e u n i v e r s i t y . 8. Theme: The l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e of s t u d e n t mothers e i t h e r s t r e n g t h e n s o r weakens the woman's sense of agency. Combined, t h e s e themes t e l l a common s t o r y and form a c o n s i s t e n t statement about the l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e of b e i n g a st u d e n t and mother a t t h e same t i m e . THE COMMON STORY The l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e of s t u d e n t mothers i s an ongoing, r e p e t i t i v e , complex p r o c e s s , which o r i g i n a t e s w i t h t h e demands 54 of t h e d u a l r o l e s of mother and s t u d e n t . A l t h o u g h each woman might be a t a d i f f e r e n t s t a g e i n t h i s p r o c e s s , a l l women d e s c r i b e d g o i n g t h r o u g h the v a r i o u s s t a g e s a t v a r i o u s t i m e s . B e i n g a mother i s a v e r y demanding j o b , and b e i n g a u n i v e r s i t y s t u d e n t i s a l s o v e r y demanding. T r y i n g t o be b o t h a t the same time o f t e n l e a d s t o u r g e n t , competing demands. The r o l e of mother i s v e r y i m p o r t a n t t o women, who u s u a l l y see t h e m s e l v e s as t h e main c a r e g i v e r , and as the b e s t s u i t e d t o f i l l t h a t r o l e . When, due t o l i m i t e d r e s o u r c e s , such as money, time , o r energy, a c o n f l i c t a r i s e s t h a t does not a l l o w t h e woman t o l i v e up t o h e r own e x p e c t a t i o n s of h e r s e l f as a mother, she f e e l s g u i l t y and i n a d e q u a t e . Compounding t h e s e f e e l i n g s i s the woman's b e l i e f t h a t h e r sho r t c o m i n g s as a mother a r e due t o the f a c t t h a t she has made t h e c h o i c e t o be a s t u d e n t , l e a d i n g her, a t t i m e s , t o f e e l s e l f i s h , and t o q u e s t i o n h e r p r i o r i t i e s . On t h e o t h e r hand, b e i n g a s t u d e n t i s a l s o v e r y i m p o r t a n t t o women. T h i s i s p a r t l y because t h e y want t o be a r o l e model f o r t h e i r c h i l d r e n , but a l s o because i t adds a n o t h e r d i m e n s i o n t o t h e i r b e i n g and l e a d s t o s e l f - f u l f i l l m e n t , as w e l l as i n c r e a s e d economic v i a b i l i t y . The women r e p o r t , however, t h a t the demands on them as a mother compromise t h e i r marks a t s c h o o l . T h e i r a b i l i t y t o devote ti m e , u n i n t e r r u p t e d a t t e n t i o n , and f o c u s t o t h e i r s t u d i e s , t h e y f e e l , i s d i m i n i s h e d by t h e 24-55 hour/day 'on c a l l ' n a t u r e of b e i n g a mother. They a r e f r u s t r a t e d when, as a r e s u l t , t h e y g e t l o w e r marks t h a n t h e y b e l i e v e t h e y a r e c a p a b l e of a c h i e v i n g . H a v i n g t o drop c o u r s e s , and s u b s e q u e n t l y t a k e l o n g e r t o f i n i s h a degree, a c c u m u l a t i n g h i g h e r debt l o a d s , and not b e i n g a b l e t o l o g t h e n e c e s s a r y v o l u n t e e r work t o g e t i n t o g r a d u a t e s c h o o l a r e j u s t some v a r i a t i o n s on the theme o f h a v i n g t o compromise s c h o o l work because o f motherhood. The p o l i c i e s and e x p e c t a t i o n s a t u n i v e r s i t y , t h e women f e e l , a r e based on t h e l i f e c i r c u m s t a n c e s of s i n g l e s t u d e n t s , and do not accommodate the needs of women w i t h c h i l d r e n . A s t u d e n t mother comes t o vi e w h e r s e l f as an anomaly, who i s , a t b e s t , t o l e r a t e d , and who f r e q u e n t l y has t o ask f o r e x c e p t i o n s t o the r u l e s , i n o r d e r t o cope. She does not see h e r s e l f r e f l e c t e d i n t h e u n i v e r s i t y scheme, and o f t e n does not know o t h e r s t u d e n t mothers. T h i s , combined w i t h h e r c h r o n i c l a c k o f t i m e , l e a v e s h e r f e e l i n g i s o l a t e d and a l o n e . The demands on h e r as a mother, as w e l l as t h e demands on he r as a s t u d e n t seem, a t t i m e s , w r i t t e n i n ston e t o t h e s t u d e n t mother, t h a t i s , she sees i t as 'the way t h i n g s a r e . ' A t thos e t i m e s , she f e e l s d e f e a t e d and h e l p l e s s , and h e r extreme f r u s t r a t i o n e x p r e s s e s i t s e l f i n e x h a u s t i o n and i n a b i l i t y t o f u n c t i o n . 56 I n an attempt t o 'make t h i n g s work,' t h e women f r e q u e n t l y c u t back on t h e i r own needs. They do not e x e r c i s e , t a k e time t o unwind, s o c i a l i z e , o r even s l e e p enough. Some women a l s o n e g l e c t t h e i r n u t r i t i o n a l needs, e a t i n g t o o l i t t l e , o r o n l y f a s t f o o d . A l l of t h i s , t h e women acknowledge, a c t u a l l y d i m i n i s h e s t h e i r a b i l i t y t o cope. When a l l a t t e m p t s t o s a t i s f y b o t h the s t u d e n t and the mother r o l e f a i l , however, t h e r e comes a p o i n t a t whi c h t h e woman becomes angry and b e g i n s t o q u e s t i o n t h e s i t u a t i o n . She examines t h e d i f f e r e n t a s p e c t s of h e r l i f e i n an attempt t o f i n d a r e a s t h a t c o u l d change and a c t i v e l y r e - d e f i n e s h e r e x p e c t a t i o n s i n t h e s e a r e a s . She may r e - t h i n k and change h e r e x p e c t a t i o n s of h e r s e l f as a mother, t o r e f l e c t t he added demands on h e r l i f e by the s t u d e n t r o l e . A t t h e same tim e , she may r e - n e g o t i a t e the c o n t r i b u t i o n s o f o t h e r h o u s e h o l d members t o c h i l d c a r e and the r u n n i n g o f t h e household, o r she may l o w e r h e r hous e k e e p i n g s t a n d a r d s and l e s s e n the degree of importance i t h o l d s f o r h er, i n o r d e r t o f r e e up more time f o r s t u d i e s . The woman may a l s o l e a r n t o frame h e r e x p e c t a t i o n s of h e r s e l f as a s t u d e n t more r e a l i s t i c a l l y , as she r e a l i z e s t h a t h e r s t u d y time and f o c u s a r e o f t e n compromised, and t h a t h e r marks do not a c c u r a t e l y r e f l e c t h e r a b i l i t i e s . And f i n a l l y , a woman may b e g i n t o e x p e c t g r e a t e r accommodation from the u n i v e r s i t y system 57 i t s e l f , a c t i v e l y demanding t o have h e r needs met. The s h i f t here i s from b e l i e v i n g h e r s e l f t o be a f a i l u r e t o r e c o g n i z i n g the f a i l u r e of t h e u n i v e r s i t y t o meet s t u d e n t moms' needs. A s t u d e n t mother may r e - d e f i n e any o r a l l of t h e s e a s p e c t s of h e r l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e — o r she may drop c o u r s e s and e v e n t u a l l y g i v e up on h e r e d u c a t i o n , a t l e a s t a t t h i s p o i n t . The p r o c e s s i s dynamic: i t r e p e a t s i t s e l f and s t a r t s anew w i t h e v e r y change i n c i r c u m s t a n c e s , such as d i f f e r e n t c o u r s e s , p r o f e s s o r s , c h i l d h o o d i l l n e s s e s , o r change i n income. I f t h e woman meets w i t h c o - o p e r a t i o n i n h e r f a m i l y and/or u n i v e r s i t y environment, and thus can make changes t h a t e n a b l e h e r t o be b o t h the mother she wants t o be and t h e s t u d e n t she knows she can be, o r i f the woman can a d j u s t h e r e x p e c t a t i o n s of h e r s e l f as a mother and/or of h e r s e l f as a s t u d e n t , so th e y r e f l e c t t h e r e a l i t i e s of h e r l i f e , o r b o t h , t h e woman's sense of agency w i l l be enhanced, and h e r s e l f - w o r t h w i l l i n c r e a s e . I f th e woman i s n o t a b l e t o r e n e g o t i a t e any a r e a s o f h e r l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e , however, t h e woman w i l l end up f e e l i n g h o p e l e s s , h e l p l e s s , d e f e a t e d , and weak. THE LIVED EXPERIENCE OF STUDENT MOTHERS An I l l u s t r a t e d Account The f o l l o w i n g a c c o u n t s i l l u s t r a t e t h e l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e s of s t u d e n t mothers w i t h c o n c r e t e anecdotes, quotes, and by 58 c r e a t i v e l y r e - w r i t i n g t h e meanings a s s i g n e d by the women t o what t h e y e x p e r i e n c e . The a c c o u n t s a r e based on t h e l i s t e d themes and sub-themes t h a t emerged from c l o s e p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l e x a m i n a t i o n of t h e i n t e r v i e w s . They r e f l e c t t he common s t r u g g l e s women e x p e r i e n c e as t h e y n e g o t i a t e t h e d a i l y competing demands of motherhood and b e i n g a s t u d e n t . The Lived Experience of Student Mothers Involves Having to Face C o n f l i c t i n g Demands F a c i n g c o n f l i c t i n g , but e q u a l l y u r g e n t demands on a d a i l y bases i s t h e u n d e r l y i n g dilemma s t u d e n t mothers have t o f a c e . As a mother, a woman g e n e r a l l y f e e l s she s h o u l d be a v a i l a b l e t o h e r c h i l d when t h e c h i l d seeks c o n t a c t . There a r e c e r t a i n , o f t e n i n t e r n a l i z e d s o c i e t a l e x p e c t a t i o n s of a mother: she s h o u l d be p a t i e n t , r e a d t o h e r c h i l d , bake c o o k i e s and p r e p a r e n u t r i t i o u s meals, keep h e r c h i l d and h e r ho u s e h o l d t i d y , and i n g e n e r a l , make h e r c h i l d ' s w e l l - b e i n g t h e f o c u s of h e r a t t e n t i o n and h e r p r i o r i t y . Joanne s t a t e s : E x t e r n a l l y , t h e r e ' s an a w f u l l o t put on me t h a t says y o u r p a r e n t i n g r o l e has t o come f i r s t and e v e r y time t h e r e ' s a c o n f l i c t : you s h o u l d q u i t s c h o o l . O b v i o u s l y I have c o n f l i c t s as f a r as what c h i l d r e n need and what I need t o do....the major u n d e r l y i n g problem's 59 always c o n f l i c t of i n t e r e s t and b e i n g mother, t h e r e ' s a l l of t h e s t u f f t h a t says t h a t you a r e l a s t . B e i n g a u n i v e r s i t y s t u d e n t , however, o f t e n does not a l l o w f o r t h i s i d e a l t o be e n a c t e d . Undergraduate s t u d i e s , e s p e c i a l l y , a r e t i me s t r u c t u r e d and i n f l e x i b l e , such t h a t a woman w i l l have t o a t t e n d c l a s s e s when t h e y a r e o f f e r e d , not when t h e y f i t i n t o h e r day. She has t o s t u d y b e f o r e exams, read, and p r e p a r e h e r a s s i g n m e n t s , and s h i f t h e r f o c u s t o t h e s e t a s k s when she does them. U n i v e r s i t y s t u d i e s , u n l i k e a 9 t o 5 j o b , do not a l l o w one t o punch out a t a c e r t a i n hour and l e a v e work b e h i n d , but o f t e n occupy one's t h o u g h t s and emotions throughout th e whole day. The c o n f l i c t i n g demands on s t u d e n t mothers, t h e n , a r e m a i n l y r e l a t e d t o t ime and f o c u s . O r g a n i z a t i o n a l s k i l l s a r e n e c e s s a r y t o maximize the use of t i m e , s c h e d u l e s have t o be f o l l o w e d , and s t i l l , t h e r e o f t e n a r e compromises t h a t need t o be made. As T a r a s t a t e s : I t ' s s t r e s s f u l - - I mean, i t seems t o b r e a k t h a t t h r e s h o l d - - t h a t comfort l e v e l o f j u s t b e i n g a b l e t o c o n c e n t r a t e on one t h i n g and do t h a t one t h i n g w e l l . I have t o c o n c e n t r a t e on q u i t e a few d i f f e r e n t t h i n g s and do a l l of t h o s e t h i n g s w e l l . . . o f t e n , t h e r e j u s t doesn't seem t o be enough room i n my head f o r e v e r y t h i n g . 60 C h i l d c a r e and h o u s e h o l d d u t i e s a r e u l t i m a t e l y seen as the woman's r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . Joanne speaks f o r most, when she s a y s : "Once I am home, I c a r r y t h e can. The buck s t o p s h e r e . " F i n d i n g t i m e f o r ho u s e h o l d , c h i l d c a r e , f a m i l y , as w e l l as s t u d y i n g i s o f t e n compounded by t h e need f o r a p a y i n g j o b . Many s t u d e n t mothers r e p o r t t h a t s t u d e n t l o a n s a r e not s u f f i c i e n t t o su p p o r t them and t h e i r c h i l d ( r e n ) . Marianne s t a t e s : I f you wanted t o know what t h e b i g g e s t burden f o r a s i n g l e p a r e n t s t u d e n t i s , i t ' s f i n a n c i a l . When you t h i n k , O.K., w e l l , I don't have t h e r e n t i n A p r i l , and i t ' s my d a u g h t e r ' s b i r t h d a y and I'm w r i t i n g f i n a l s , and t h i s and t h a t , and sometimes i t ' s so overwhelming t h a t I j u s t p r a c t i c a l l y c a n ' t f u n c t i o n a t a l l - t h e f i n a n c i a l burden i s so tremendous. And T a r a d e s c r i b e s h e r t h o u g h t s : I t h i n k about t h e money. That's my p r i m a r y worry. [School] i s a l u x u r y , and I'm o v e r - s p e n d i n g t o do i t and I s h o u l d n ' t be. Marianne d e s c r i b e s what she e x p e r i e n c e d when she r a n out o f money: I f one p a r t , l i k e money, i f t h e f i n a n c e s drop, i t throws the whole r e s t of the system out o f whack.... You're s p e n d i n g time w i t h y o u r c h i l d but you're l i k e a zombie. You're t h i n k i n g , where am I g o i n g t o get the money. How am I g o i n g t o pay the r e n t ? What a r e we g o i n g t o have f o r d i n n e r ? Are we g o i n g t o have d i n n e r ? So, you're not r e a l l y t h e r e . You're not t h e r e f o r y o u r c h i l d . You're not t h e r e f o r yo u r s t u d i e s . The need f o r p a r t - t i m e j o b s p l a c e s a d d i t i o n a l s t r a i n on an a l r e a d y t i g h t t ime s c h e d u l e , and fragments t h e women's day and f o c u s even more. In a d d i t i o n t o a c t u a l s c h e d u l i n g problems, women d e s c r i b e d i f f i c u l t i e s w i t h k e e p i n g t h e i r f o c u s on what t h e y a r e d o i n g a t any one t i m e . I n c l a s s , a woman may f i n d h e r s e l f t h i n k i n g about o r g a n i z i n g d a y c a r e needs, o r a s i c k c h i l d , w h i l e i n t h e ev e n i n g , a t h e r c h i l d ' s b e d s i d e r e a d i n g a s t o r y , h e r mind may be on the assignment she s t i l l has t o f i n i s h . I r e n e o b s e r v e s : One c o n f l i c t s w i t h the o t h e r . The f a m i l y l i f e c o n f l i c t s w i t h the s t u d e n t l i f e . I t h i n k t h e s t u d e n t l i f e r e q u i r e s more i n t r o s p e c t i o n , more f o c u s , and the f a m i l y l i f e i s always c o n f l i c t i n g w i t h t h a t . I t ' s always l o o k i n g t o o t h e r s ' needs. As w e l l as t h e dilemma o v e r where t o spend one's time and f o c u s , competing demands can a l s o be d e s c r i b e d as t h e i n t e r n a l s t r u g g l e w i t h p r i o r i t i e s . A l t h o u g h a l l women s t a t e t h a t t h e i r 62 c h i l d ( r e n ) a r e v e r y i m p o r t a n t t o them, t h e y a l s o c l e a r l y p l a c e g r e a t i m p o r t a n c e on b e i n g a s t u d e n t . Joanne s t a t e s : I t ' s i m p o r t a n t t o me t o be a good mother but t h e r e ' s more t o me t h a n t h a t . There's a l o t more t o me tha n t h a t . B e i n g a r o l e model f o r t h e i r c h i l d ( r e n ) , as w e l l as f o r o t h e r women, i n c r e a s e d e a r n i n g p o t e n t i a l , s e l f - r e a l i z a t i o n , and economic n e c e s s i t y a r e t h e v a r i o u s reasons women g i v e f o r g o i n g t o u n i v e r s i t y . T h e i r m o t i v a t i o n f o r d o i n g w e l l i s h i g h , " o t h e r w i s e , what's the p o i n t " ( I r e n e ) , and t h e thought of g i v i n g up on t h e i r e d u c a t i o n i s p a i n f u l . Joanne e x p l a i n s : H a v i n g t o g i v e up on some c o u r s e s , w h i c h I've a l r e a d y done, and whi c h I'm r e a l l y h a v i n g t o h e a r t - s e a r c h now t o t h i n k about d o i n g i t even more i n o r d e r t o keep my s a n i t y f o r the r e s t of the y e a r , i t ' s a t g r e a t c o s t t o me. I n f a c t . . . . i t k i l l s , j u s t k i l l s . I t h u r t s because when I'm here, I'm me. I'm not somebody's mother and I'm not someone's w i f e . I'm not a n y t h i n g t o do w i t h anybody e l s e . When f a c e d w i t h competing demands, t h e d e c i s i o n about which a r e a g e t s t h e a t t e n t i o n depends l a r g e l y on the woman's p r i o r i t y a t t h e t i m e . A s i c k c h i l d might m o t i v a t e a woman t o miss s e v e r a l days o f c l a s s e s , whereas f i n a l exams may cause h e r t o h i r e a 63 baby s i t t e r and not be a v a i l a b l e t o h e r c h i l d f o r a w h i l e . Everyday r o u t i n e s a r e u s u a l l y worked out, but any change i n r o u t i n e , u n f o r e s e e n c i r c u m s t a n c e s , o r a d d i t i o n a l demands t h r e a t e n t h e whole p l a n . Joanne remarks: When I s t a r t t o get most s t r e s s e d i s when I'm b e i n g f l e x i b l e and t h i n g s a r e s t i l l p u s h i n g and p u s h i n g . Because t h e r e ' s n e v e r j u s t one s t r e s s o r - t h e r e ' s always 10. A l t h o u g h women l i k e n t h e i r h a n d l i n g of competing demands t o the a c t o f j u g g l i n g , u n f o r e s e e n c i r c u m s t a n c e s add more and more b a l l s t o t h e s e t , c a u s i n g some of them e v e n t u a l l y t o f a l l , o r , as I r e n e d e s c r i b e s i t : I f e l t l i k e I was, you know, t h e l i t t l e b a l l i n the p i n b a l l machine, t h a t I was j u s t s o r t of b o u n c i n g from one t h i n g t o a n o t h e r , and t h a t I wasn't r e a l l y a c c o m p l i s h i n g a n y t h i n g . The Lived Experience of Student Mothers Leads to Feelings of G u i l t and Inadequacy S t u d e n t mothers e x p e r i e n c e a l o t of g u i l t c o r r e s p o n d i n g t o the a r e a s i n whi c h t h e y a r e f o r c e d t o make compromises. Because the f a m i l y l i f e and t h e s c h o o l demands a r e e x p e r i e n c e d as c o n f l i c t i n g w i t h each o t h e r , and b o t h get compromised t o v a r y i n g 64 degrees a t d i f f e r e n t t i m e s , s t u d e n t moms f e e l i n a d e q u a t e i n b o t h a r e a s . Women w i t h younger c h i l d r e n i n dayc a r e r e g r e t h a v i n g t o l e a v e t h e c a r e of t h e i r c h i l d f o r a l a r g e p a r t of e v e r y day t o someone e l s e . A mother f e e l s i t s h o u l d be she who i s t h e r e t o comfort t h e c h i l d when i t i s h u r t o r t i r e d , who answers t h e c h i l d ' s q u e s t i o n s and pas s e s a l o n g h e r v a l u e s . Marianne s a y s : My c h i l d , i t ' s me and her, t h a t ' s i t . I f I'm not t h e r e f o r her, and I t r y t o be t h e r e f o r h e r as much as I can, t h e n I'm l e t t i n g h e r down. So t h e r e ' s t h e g u i l t o f not b e i n g t h e k i n d of p a r e n t I used t o be when I was a stay-home mom and my f o c u s was my c h i l d . H a v i n g made t h e c h o i c e t o go t o s c h o o l , and t h e r e f o r e not b e i n g a b l e t o l i v e up t o h e r own i d e a l as a mother, o f t e n r e s u l t s i n doubts about t h e q u a l i t y of h e r m o t h e r i n g . As Emma e x p l a i n s : There's a d i s c r e p a n c y between my e x p e c t a t i o n s of me as a mother and a w i f e and what I can a c t u a l l y o f f e r , and t h a t ' s t h e major s o u r c e of s t r e s s . When t h e c h i l d r e n a r e o l d e r , a s t u d e n t mother w o r r i e s more about t h e q u a l i t y o f time spent w i t h h e r c h i l d ( r e n ) . She i s aware t h a t h e r f o c u s o f t e n i s on h e r s c h o o l work, even when she i s a t home w i t h h e r c h i l d . I r e n e s t a t e s : My e x p e c t a t i o n s of m y s e l f , when you're a p a r e n t , you want t o be the b e s t p a r e n t you can be and my i d e a of b e i n g a good p a r e n t i s b e i n g a t t e n t i v e and a v a i l a b l e and h a v i n g the energy t o do t h i n g s w i t h my c h i l d r e n , and not always p u s h i n g them away o r b e i n g t o o t i r e d t o do something t h a t ' s i n v o l v i n g . . . . The e f f e c t on my f a m i l y i s t h a t I'm j u s t not a v a i l a b l e t o them i n a m e a n i n g f u l o r c o n s i s t e n t way. There a r e t i m e s , but I j u s t g e n e r a l l y f e e l l i k e I'm j u s t k i n d of t h e r e . We're i n the same room but we're r e a l l y not c o n n e c t i n g . Not b e i n g t h e r e , e m o t i o n a l l y and/or p h y s i c a l l y w i t h the c h i l d , r u s h i n g t o get out of the house i n the morning, p u t t i n g the c h i l d t o bed e a r l y t o c r e a t e a l i t t l e more s t u d y t i m e , a l l combine i n t o t h e heavy burden of g u i l t t h a t c r e e p s up i n t o e v e r y s t u d e n t mother's s u b c o n s c i o u s . Even i f she has weighed t h e p r o s and cons of g o i n g t o s c h o o l , and has d e c i d e d t h a t t h e r e a r e more p o s i t i v e s t h a n n e g a t i v e s , a l l t h i n g s c o n s i d e r e d , t h e e v e r y day s t r u g g l e t o f i n d t ime f o r h e r c h i l d ( r e n ) means she may have t o j u s t i f y h e r d e c i s i o n s t o h e r s e l f e v e r y day anew, as g u i l t y f e e l i n g s come up a g a i n and a g a i n . E s p e c i a l l y i f t h e woman e n j o y s h e r schoolwork, she has t o f i g h t f e e l i n g s of g u i l t about l e a v i n g h e r c h i l d r e n . Mary s a y s : I f e e l some g u i l t around e n j o y i n g i t so much, and h a v i n g him (son) i n d a y c a r e . . . . I'm f o c u s e d on my s t u d i e s , w h i c h i s what I want, but I f e e l t o r n about i t and g u i l t y as w e l l . . . . Because he's i n da y c a r e , I c a n ' t j u s t i f y not w o r k i n g . I don't go sho p p i n g and hang around. Spending time on a n y t h i n g o t h e r t h a n s c h o o l work o r t h e c h i l d seems f r i v o l o u s t o a s t u d e n t mother and makes h e r q u e s t i o n h e r p r i o r i t i e s . Marianne d e s c r i b e s h e r f e e l i n g s : I went out t h i s weekend w i t h a n o t h e r s t u d e n t mom. And I f e l t g u i l t y . Why? What an i r r e s p o n s i b l e t h i n g t o do as a p a r e n t . You have t h i s e v e n i n g . You c o u l d be sp e n d i n g i t w i t h y o u r c h i l d . Now yo u ' r e g o i n g o u t . You s e l f i s h woman. When a c h i l d i s i l l o r i n c r i s i s , b ut t h e s t u d e n t mother can not s t a y w i t h t h e c h i l d , t h e d e c i s i o n i s e s p e c i a l l y h a r d . I r e n e d e s c r i b e s h e r f e e l i n g s when she took h e r sons t o s c h o o l : I f e l t r e a l l y mean. I f e l t v e r y s e l f i s h , as i f I was c h o o s i n g my own needs above my c h i l d r e n ' s when t h e y ' r e o b v i o u s l y i n a v e r y v u l n e r a b l e s i t u a t i o n . But I d i d n ' t f e e l I had a c h o i c e , o r I f e l t t h a t i t was g o i n g t o c r e a t e more of a problem f o r me not t o go t o s c h o o l t h a n i t would f o r them t o go and t o f e e l g u i l t y . The d e c i s i o n I was making, i t was r i g h t f o r me, i t wasn't r i g h t f o r them. Not b e i n g a b l e t o be as a v a i l a b l e t o t h e i r c h i l d as t h e y would want t o be, women a l s o w orry about a weakening o f the mother c h i l d bond. Mary s t a t e s : I wonder whether I'm m i s s i n g out on q u i t e a l o t of h i s e a r l y c h i l d h o o d . . . . I"m s u r e i t im p a c t s on my b o n d i n g w i t h him because I'm so f o c u s e d on my work. And s i m i l a r l y , I r e n e s a y s : I f e e l w o r r i e d t h a t i t might have an e f f e c t on them and our r e l a t i o n s h i p . That i t ' s v e r y h a r d once you've l o s t a c o n n e c t i o n w i t h somebody, e s p e c i a l l y w i t h c h i l d r e n , t o r e b u i l d t h a t c o n n e c t i o n . I worry t h a t t h e y w i l l see my l a c k o f a t t e n t i o n as not c a r i n g about them. (Her eyes t e a r i n g u p ) . I n a d d i t i o n t o b a t t l i n g t h e f e e l i n g of b e i n g a bad mother, s t u d e n t mothers may s t r u g g l e t o f i n d t ime f o r t h e i r h o u s e h o l d , husband, and j o b . Emma d e s c r i b e s : I come home l a t e and I'm v e r y t i r e d , and I c o u l d use some s l e e p , and he [husband] wants t o t a l k , and I have no energy anymore t o f a c e t h a t . 68 O f t e n , when t h e i r s t a n d a r d s of t i d i n e s s a r e compromised, women f e e l i n a d e q u a t e . T a r a s t a t e s : "My mother would have never l e t h e r k i d s go out the door l i k e t h a t . " The many s u b t l e ways i n w h i c h s t u d e n t mothers do not measure up t o t h e i r own e x p e c t a t i o n s of t h e m s e l v e s as mothers and w i v e s not o n l y l e a d t o f e e l i n g s of g u i l t and inadequacy, but a l s o t o s e l f - d o u b t . Joanne o b s e r v e s : U n f o r t u n a t e l y , t h e r e a r e t i m e s when you b e g i n t o r e a l l y doubt y o u r s e l f . Am I r e a l l y b e i n g so s e l f i s h ? Maybe I am j u s t w a n t i n g t o o much....those k i n d s of t h o u g h t s b r i n g w i t h them, o r come a l o n g s i d e an immense amount of d e p r e s s i o n . S t u d e n t mothers, however, do not o n l y f e e l t h e y a r e d o i n g an i n a d e q u a t e j o b as a mother, but a l s o o f t e n as a s t u d e n t . U s u a l l y , t h e y b e l i e v e t h a t t h e y a r e p e r f o r m i n g below t h e i r a b i l i t i e s . Aware t h a t t h e cause of t h e i r l o w e r marks i s the c h r o n i c l a c k o f time and f o c u s t h e y have t o l i v e w i t h , s t u d e n t mothers none th e l e s s f i n d i t h a r d t o a c c e p t . T a r a o b s e r v e s : I don't n e c e s s a r i l y get t h e grades t h a t would match my--I know t h a t I have t h a t i n me, b u t t h e time j u s t i s n ' t t h e r e . Marianne wonders: My grades have dropped and I've had t o a c c e p t t h a t ' s a l l I can do. I t ' s r e a l l y a h e a r t - b r e a k i n g e x p e r i e n c e , because I was an honours s t u d e n t and now I'm b a r e l y passing....How do you go from b e i n g an honours s t u d e n t t o f a i l i n g ? I don't know. I don't t h i n k I s u d d e n l y woke up s t u p i d one morning. Even marks i n t h e h i g h e r range a r e not a c c e p t a b l e , i f t h e y f a l l below t h e l e v e l t h e woman knows she can a c h i e v e . Joanne: I'm h a v i n g a v e r y h a r d time because I l i k e t o do w e l l . I can do w e l l and I'm n o t . I'm s t i l l p a s s i n g e v e r y t h i n g , but t h a t ' s not good enough.... I t ' s d e s t r o y i n g my p o s i t i v e s . I f I'm not d o i n g as w e l l as I s h o u l d be d o i n g , and I never e v e r do, even when I get 80%, I know i t s h o u l d have been h i g h e r . I know how w e l l I can do. P e r f o r m i n g a t a l o w e r l e v e l t h a n one i s c a p a b l e o f r e s u l t s i n g u i l t y f e e l i n g s when not s p e n d i n g y o u r time s t u d y i n g . Even s p e n d i n g time w i t h y o u r c h i l d becomes a c o n f l i c t . S arah: I t ' s t h e k i n d of g u i l t t h a t you f e e l i f you t a k e time away from y o u r s t u d i e s t o be w i t h y o u r c h i l d . H a v i n g t o miss c l a s s e s because of o t h e r r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s means more t o s t u d e n t mothers t h a n t o s i n g l e s t u d e n t s , because 70 t h e y have l e s s t ime t o s t u d y , and t h e time t h e y do manage t o squeeze out i s o f t e n f r a c t u r e d and i n t e r r u p t e d . Marianne s t a t e s : To miss even one c l a s s i s d e a d l y because i f I ca n ' t s t u d y a t n i g h t o r i f I'm not f o c u s e d enough t o s t u d y a t n i g h t , I need t h e i n f o r m a t i o n I'm g e t t i n g i n c l a s s . I need i t . I'm d e s p e r a t e t o have i t , because i t ' s where I w i l l draw my s t r e n g t h from come exam t i m e . I t i s a t exam time t h a t s t u d e n t mothers f e e l t h e inadequacy of t h e i r s t u d e n t e x p e r i e n c e a c c u m u l a t i n g . Marianne: ....so maybe i t was j u s t one exam, b u t maybe you don't do q u i t e as w e l l a t t h e nex t exam e i t h e r . I t ' s a s e l f - f u l f i l l i n g prophecy. I t j u s t keeps s n o w b a l l i n g and g e t t i n g b i g g e r and b i g g e r , u n t i l t h e pr o b l e m i s so f a r out of c o n t r o l , you don't know how t o f i x i t anymore. To summarize., t h e meaning women s t u d e n t s w i t h c h i l d r e n d e r i v e from t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e of l i v i n g w i t h competing u r g e n c i e s i s t h a t t h e y b e l i e v e t h e y p e r f o r m below t h e i r a b i l i t y as a s t u d e n t , f e e l g u i l t y about not b e i n g t h e mother t h e y want t o be, and, as a r e s u l t , o f t e n q u e s t i o n t h e i r p r i o r i t i e s . The Lived Experience of Student Mothers Induces Helplessness and Frustration 71 One r e c u r r i n g consequence of t h e e v e r y day l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e of s t u d e n t mothers i s t h a t t h e y f e e l t h e r e i s no way t o change t h e i r s i t u a t i o n . As a mother, t h e y b e l i e v e , t h e y w i l l always be the one r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the c h i l d ' s w e l l b e i n g . On t h e o t h e r hand, t h e y do not see any i n d i c a t i o n t h a t changes i n the u n i v e r s i t y system and/or p o l i c i e s t o accommodate t h e i r needs a r e f o r t h c o m i n g . I t i s when d e s c r i b i n g the h e l p l e s s n e s s t h e y f e e l , t h a t s t u d e n t mothers become the most e m o t i o n a l . T e a r s of f r u s t r a t i o n were wiped away by many o f them. One s o u r c e o f f r u s t r a t i o n i s t h a t t h e r e s i m p l y i s not enough t i m e . Lack of time l e a d s t o l o w e r marks. Joanne e x p l a i n s : I n o r d e r t o m a i n t a i n t h a t k i n d of c o u r s e l o a d on top of t h i s s i z e f a m i l y , I'm g o i n g t o have t o a c c e p t marks i n t h e low p a s s i n g a r e a , w h i c h s t i n k s t o me. T h i s no l o n g e r i s a p o s i t i v e i n my l i f e . I t ' s j u s t a n o t h e r s t r e s s . T hat's no good. Women w i t h c h i l d r e n a r e k e e n l y aware t h a t t h e i r marks a r e not e v a l u a t e d i n l i g h t of t h e i r o t h e r r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . Emma: I t doesn't m a t t e r t o them [ u n i v e r s i t y ] i f you spend t i m e a t home r a i s i n g y o u r k i d s . L a t e r , when I have a jo b , t h e y w i l l n e ver a p p r e c i a t e t h e f a c t t h a t I d i d n ' t do j u s t s c h o o l i n g . But i t ' s h a r d t o be as c o m p e t i t i v e as someone who doesn't do what you a r e d o i n g . Joanne d e s c r i b e s h e r f r u s t r a t i o n a t t h e s i t u a t i o n : P a r t of the s t r u g g l e t h a t I go t h r o u g h i s I'm so aware t h a t t h e p e r s o n s i t t i n g n e x t t o me i s h a v i n g t h i s t ime t o be p r e p a r e d f o r t h e c l a s s t h a t I don't have, and I have t o , I f e e l v e r y p r e s s u r e d t o be on e q u a l f o o t i n g w i t h them. Oth e r a r e a s of f r u s t r a t i o n f o r s t u d e n t mothers a r e t h e p o l i c i e s r e g a r d i n g s t u d e n t l o a n and i n s u f f i c i e n t f u n d i n g . T a r a : There's a l l t h e s e w e i r d l i t t l e l i m i t a t i o n s . You have t o g e t a c e r t a i n GPA a l t h o u g h you c a n ' t g e t t h a t GPA w i t h t h e f o u r c l a s s e s and two k i d s and a j o b . I t ' s j u s t t o o bad t h a t t h e y don't u n d e r s t a n d t h a t . I t t a k e s a l o t of e f f o r t and time t o get f u n d i n g . Marianne: I was t o l d I had t o f i g h t . I don't have time t o f i g h t f o r t h i n g s anymore. I j u s t need t o go, go, go. I'm t i r e d of f i g h t i n g . . . . Student l o a n s a r e not enough t o l i v e on....But I don't have o p t i o n s . I t ' s not l i k e I can t a k e a n o t h e r n i g h t j o b and make i t a l l b e t t e r . I c a n ' t . I c a n ' t even a f f o r d a b a b y - s i t t e r . . . . What o p t i o n s do women have when you're s a d d l e d w i t h 73 c h i l d r e n and no one i s h e l p i n g you and b a s i c a l l y you have no out? No s u p p o r t , n o t h i n g . I n t h e i r homes, as w e l l , women f e e l f r u s t r a t e d , as t h e i r a t t e m p t s t o d i s t r i b u t e t he burden of housework and c h i l d c a r e among a l l f a m i l y members ov e r time o f t e n r e v e r t back t o them. Women r e p o r t , i n some cas e s , t h a t t h e y e n c o u n t e r a c t i v e r e s i s t a n c e , as Joanne d e s c r i b e s : I'm b e i n g e x p e c t e d t o c a r r y e v e r y t h i n g a t home and e v e r y t h i n g a t s c h o o l because t h e s c h o o l i s b e i n g p e r c e i v e d as a p r i v i l e g e . I t ' s p l a y . You don't r e a l l y need t o do t h i s . . . .Makes me want t o howl a t the moon because I'm p r e v e n t e d , by l a c k of c o - o p e r a t i o n , p a s s i v e - a g g r e s s i v e s t u f f , r e a l l y . The meaning women draw from t h e i r f r u s t r a t i n g e x p e r i e n c e s amounts t o f e e l i n g as i f t h e y a r e d o i n g something t h a t i s o u t s i d e t h e norm. There i s no p r o v i s i o n made i n e i t h e r t h e system o f f a m i l y o r the system of u n i v e r s i t y t o i n c o r p o r a t e one w i t h t h e o t h e r , and women have t o c o n s t a n t l y s t r u g g l e t o f i n d a way t o combine t h e two. The i m p l i c i t e x p e c t a t i o n s of a mother and o f a s t u d e n t a r e o f t e n not c o m p a t i b l e , and cause t h e woman, a t t i m e s , t o q u e s t i o n whether she can c o n t i n u e t o be b o t h . Mary: Around C h r i s t m a s t i m e , I was t h i n k i n g , I ca n ' t t a k e anymore. I c a n ' t do t h i s . I'm not g o i n g t o get my degree. I'm j u s t g o i n g t o q u i t because I c o u l d n ' t cope anymore. The Lived Experience of Student Mothers Fosters A l i e n a t i o n and Disconnection. Women s t u d e n t s w i t h c h i l d r e n o f t e n d e s c r i b e f e e l i n g a l o n e . Many s t a t e t h a t t h e y do not know any o t h e r s t u d e n t mothers. Not s e e i n g themselves, r e f l e c t e d i n the s t u d e n t p o p u l a t i o n , and not acknowledged i n t h e p o l i c i e s , t h e y f e e l out of p l a c e , as i f t h e y were an anomaly. Ta r a s a y s : Sometimes I t h i n k I s h o u l d n ' t be a t s c h o o l . I'm w a s t i n g the government's money....doing a l l t h e s e J t h i n g s t h a t I s h o u l d n ' t be d o i n g . . . . I h e a r a l o t of v o i c e s who have t o l d me t h a t p e o p l e o r women who a r e g o i n g back t o s c h o o l a r e j u s t a d r a i n on s o c i e t y . Comparing themselves w i t h s i n g l e s t u d e n t s , s t u d e n t mothers r e a l i z e t h a t t h e y have l e s s t i m e , and a r e l e s s f o c u s e d on t h e i r s c h o o l work. A g a i n t h e y f e e l t h a t t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e f a l l s o u t s i d e the norm, and i s not r e c o g n i z e d . T a r a e x p l a i n s : I'm competing w i t h o t h e r c l a s s m a t e s who don't have t h i s k i n d o f r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . . . . a n d I j u s t t h i n k t o m y s e l f , w e l l , god, i t would be so easy t o p u l l o f f t h o s e A+s i n e v e r y t h i n g i f you c o u l d j u s t have t h a t s o l i d f o c u s and an o p p o r t u n i t y t o spend a l l t h a t time r e a d i n g a l l t h a t o t h e r s t u f f t h a t you n e v e r g e t around t o . . . . P e o p l e who a r e g e t t i n g t h e s c h o l a r s h i p s a r e t h e s i n g l e s t u d e n t s who a r e a b l e t o f o c u s t h e i r whole l i v e s on t h e i r s t u d i e s . A l t h o u g h b e l i e v i n g o t h e r s see h e r as d i f f e r e n t , as T a r a s a y s : "There a r e d e f i n i t e l y some who k i n d of g i v e you t h a t l o o k , l i k e , what i s she d o i n g h e r e ? , " the s t u d e n t mother h e r s e l f f e e l s d i f f e r e n t from t h e s i n g l e s t u d e n t and b e l i e v e s o t h e r s cannot r e l a t e t o h e r e x p e r i e n c e . Marianne: I'm e n v i o u s of them....They don't have th e f i n a n c i a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y and t h e y can a c t u a l l y f o c u s on b e i n g a s t u d e n t and I n e v e r can do t h a t . Because t h e y u s u a l l y spend as l i t t l e t i m e as p o s s i b l e on campus, s t u d e n t mothers o f t e n do not f e e l p a r t o f t h e groups t h a t form i n e v e r y c l a s s . I r e n e e x p l a i n s : I remember a c t u a l l y f e e l i n g v e r y i s o l a t e d from everybody i n t h e c l a s s . . . . I f e l t I wasn't p a r t of the g r o u p . . . . I f e l t k i n d of out of i t . I t seemed l i k e everybody e l s e was h a v i n g a c o n v e r s a t i o n w i t h somebody and I was j u s t not-.-...I t h i n k I'm o p e r a t i n g on my own u n d e r s t a n d i n g , I don't r e a l l y have a l o t of i n p u t and i f I'm making a f l a w i n t h e way I'm t h i n k i n g o r p e r c e i v i n g something, I have no o p p o r t u n i t y t o f i n d t h a t o u t . S i m i l a r l y , Mary s a y s : I f you have problems, t h e y ' r e y o u r problems. There's no one around t o su p p o r t you. Not h a v i n g t h e time t o spend w i t h o t h e r s t u d e n t s o u t s i d e of c l a s s a l s o has o t h e r e f f e c t s . Mary: I l o o k a t s t u d e n t s w i t h o u t c h i l d r e n , and t h e y s o c i a l i z e t o g e t h e r , and th e y i n v i t e me and I can neve r go....I don't have a s o c i a l l i f e , I have u n i v e r s i t y . . . . everyone goes t o th e pub, t h a t ' s a v e r y i m p o r t a n t p a r t , t h e s o c i a l a s p e c t of i t , and I u s u a l l y c a n ' t do t h a t , so I f e e l I miss out....[When she s t o o d f o r e l e c t i o n ] no one v o t e d f o r me because t h e y don't know me. Lack of ti m e t o s o c i a l i z e , on and o f f campus, i s a f r e q u e n t l y r e c u r r i n g statement from s t u d e n t mothers. O f t e n , s c h e d u l i n g problems a r e the rea s o n , as Emma d e s c r i b e s : F a m i l y h o u s i n g has groups and t e a p a r t i e s b ut th e y a l l happen when I have t o be a t s c h o o l so I never have a chance t o be i n v o l v e d . Even i f t h e s t u d e n t mother t a k e s the time t o s o c i a l i z e , i t o f t e n i s a n e g a t i v e e x p e r i e n c e , because, as Emma s a y s : " . . . . i t t u r n e d 77 out t o be more s t r e s s f u l a f t e r w a r d s , because I c o n s t a n t l y f e l t I was w a s t i n g t i m e . " No t i m e f o r a s o c i a l l i f e , and not s e e i n g y o u r s e l f r e p r e s e n t e d on campus a r e two of the main reas o n s s t u d e n t mothers f e e l i s o l a t e d and d i s c o n n e c t e d . A n o t h e r r e a s o n i s the tone i n t h e c l a s s s e t by the p r o f e s s o r , and, whereas some women r e p o r t s u p p o r t i v e e x p e r i e n c e s w i t h f a c u l t y , a l l have s t o r i e s t o t e l l of b e i n g a l i e n a t e d and made t o f e e l l i k e an o u t s i d e r . S a r a : Most p r o f s have i n t h e i r mind t h a t a l l s t u d e n t s a r e twenty, e a t i n g p i z z a , and h a v i n g p a r t i e s . . . . Y o u come a few minutes l a t e and t h e y make some c r a c k about p a r t y i n g t o o l a t e . [When she e x p l a i n e d t h a t h e r c h i l d was s i c k ] i t ' s l i k e : what a r e you d o i n g back i n s c h o o l t h e n , i f t h a t ' s y o u r r e s p o n s i b i l i t y ? T a r a d e s c r i b e s v i v i d l y h e r s t r u g g l e w i t h f e e l i n g unwelcome: This....man i s not v e r y u n d e r s t a n d i n g , so I d i d n ' t want him t o have th e excuse t o say, oh w e l l , she's j u s t a mother o r something. Why doesn't she j u s t go home....I can j u s t see i t i n h i s eyes....he would r e a l l y b e l i t t l e them. I c o u l d n ' t see m y s e l f g o i n g t o t h a t p r o f because I d i d n ' t want t o use my c h i l d r e n as an excuse. 78 Not f e e l i n g u n d e r s t o o d and s u p p o r t e d i n y o u r s t r u g g l e s as a st u d e n t mother, however, makes s u c c e e d i n g a l l t h e h a r d e r . T a r a : To me, t h i s i s t h e s t r e s s o r , i s t r y i n g t o get t h a t p o i n t a c r o s s t o c e r t a i n i n d i v i d u a l s who a r e i n those p o s i t i o n s of power, who a r e g o i n g t o make t h o s e d e c i s i o n s on y o u r l i f e . . . . H e r e I f e e l l i k e I'm j u s t a b i g weed, and t h e y ' r e t r y i n g t o get me out of t h e r e , and t h e y ' r e p u l l i n g as h a r d as t h e y can, and I'm s t i c k i n g i n . . . . I d e f i n i t e l y f e e l l i k e I'm not wanted here by t h e f a c u l t y . The e v e r y d a y e x p e r i e n c e s of s t u d e n t mothers, t h e n , convey t o t h o s e women t h a t t h e y a r e not a v a l u e d p a r t of t h e s t u d e n t body, but a r e l a r g e l y i n v i s i b l e , and, a t b e s t , t o l e r a t e d . The Lived Experience of Student Mothers Contributes to Self Neglect As must be c l e a r by now, the everyday e x p e r i e n c e of s t u d e n t mothers i n v o l v e s a c h r o n i c l a c k of t i m e . To maximize t h e i r day, many women w i l l e i t h e r g e t up v e r y e a r l y , b e f o r e t h e i r f a m i l i e s , t o s t u d y , o r s t u d y a f t e r t h e i r c h i l d r e n a r e i n bed. As a consequence, a l l women r e p o r t b e i n g t i r e d . I n f a c t , as Sarah c a l l s i t : t h e y a r e d e v a s t a t i n g l y w i t h o u t s l e e p . Not f i n d i n g enough time t o s l e e p i s p r o b a b l y t h e most o f t e n mentioned . c o m p l a i n t o f s t u d e n t mothers. Not o n l y do t h e y have t o c u t back 79 on t h e i r r e g u l a r n i g h t t i m e , i n o r d e r t o stu d y , but a l s o t o do t h e i r housework, and r e l a t e t o t h e i r husbands. When a c h i l d (or husband) i s i l l , t h e i r a l r e a d y s p a r s e s l e e p i n g t ime w i l l be s h o r t e n e d even more. I n a d d i t i o n , i n o r d e r t o t r y and s a t i s f y t h e i r f a m i l y r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s and do t h e i r s c h o o l work, women n e g l e c t t h e i r own needs i n a number o f o t h e r a r e a s . As Joanne e x p l a i n s : I t h i n k t h a t ' s a common t h i n g w i t h mothers. Mothers come l a s t . I f t h e r e ' s not enough o f something t o go around, guess who doesn't g e t any....You g e t so used t o p u t t i n g everybody e l s e f i r s t . . . . I t was apparent t o me t h a t I don't do t h i n g s f o r me. More s p e c i f i c a l l y , women r e p o r t c u t t i n g back on p e r s o n a l grooming, e x e r c i s i n g , and e a t i n g n u t r i t i o u s meals. T a r a r e p o r t s : I t means h a v i n g t o g i v e up on c e r t a i n t h i n g s . G i v i n g up on l i t t l e l u x u r i e s . . . . t o be a b l e t o have time t o be b e t t e r p r e p a r e d , i n grooming, appearances, maybe not e a t i n g p r o p e r l y . . . . a t home I f i n d I j u s t s o r t of snack on s t u f f whenever I have the time and I maybe eat r e a l l y l a t e o r r e a l l y e a r l y . Marianne e x p r e s s e s a s i m i l a r tendency: I don't t a k e c a r e of m y s e l f . I don't e a t p r o p e r l y . There's no time t o t a k e c a r e of m y s e l f . I t ' s j u s t go, go. T i g h t s c h e d u l e . Not a minute t o drop. There have been t i m e s when I would r e a l i z e t h a t i t had been a week s i n c e I had a b a t h . S tudent mothers a l s o n e g l e c t t h e i r need f o r a l t e r n a t i v e a c t i v i t i e s t o s t u d y i n g and t a k i n g c a r e of t h e i r f a m i l i e s . I r e n e : I don't have as b a l a n c e d a l i f e as somebody who has ti m e t o go out and spend w i t h f r i e n d s o r go s k i i n g . I f e e l l i k e I don't r e a l l y have any--my time i s e i t h e r a t s c h o o l o r w i t h my f a m i l y . I don't have any time t o r e a l l y r e s t o r e m y s e l f , t o r e a l l y do something spontaneous. Do something t h a t w i l l make me f e e l good, so I f e e l v e r y c o n s t r a i n e d i n my s i t u a t i o n . Mary echoes h e r s e n t i m e n t s : There's not a l o t of f u n o t h e r t h a n t h e enjoyment of a c c o m p l i s h i n g t h i n g s a t s c h o o l . There's no f r i v o l i t y . I n f a c t , t h e more t h e s t r e s s l e v e l r i s e s , t h e l e s s s t u d e n t mothers do f o r t h e m s e l v e s . Emma e x p l a i n s : I'm not a b l e t o c r e a t e my own space and time f o r r e l a x a t i o n , w h i c h would p r o b a b l y h e l p . . . . t h e f a c t i s t h a t I'm so s t r e s s e d t h a t t h i n g s t a k e so much l o n g e r , i t s l i k e a v i c i o u s c y c l e . The more s t r e s s I g e t , the l e s s I spend time i n d e a l i n g w i t h s t r e s s . 81 When s t u d e n t mothers t a l k about the t h i n g s t h e y do not do f o r t h e m s e l v e s , i t i s s a i d more as an a s i d e . They do not want sympathy, but s t a t e i t as a f a c t of l i f e f o r them. O f t e n , t h e y a l s o r e p o r t v a r i o u s p h y s i c a l symptoms of s t r e s s . Headaches, m i g r a i n e s , t e n s i o n , and g e n e r a l l y b e i n g more s u s c e p t i b l e t o i l l n e s s e s a r e t h e main c o m p l a i n t s . I r e n e e x p l a i n s : P h y s i c a l l y , I g e t v e r y h y p e r t e n s e . I can f e e l my body t e n s i n g up. Even i n d r i v i n g , I g e t v e r y a n g r y and a g g r e s s i v e . I f e l t v e r y h e l p l e s s , g e n e r a l l y . I f e l t l i k e I was j u s t t r y i n g t o t a k e c a r e o f a l l t h e s e t h i n g s . I n t h e i r attempt t o cope w i t h the everyday e x p e r i e n c e s of competing u r g e n c i e s , i t seems t h a t s t u d e n t mothers c u t back on t h e i r own needs f i r s t , i n o r d e r t o t r y and s a t i s f y the needs of t h e i r f a m i l y , as w e l l as t h e i r s t u d e n t r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . Some of the women were aware t h a t t h i s i s a c t u a l l y c o u n t e r p r o d u c t i v e , as t h e y become l e s s and l e s s a b l e t o cope w i t h and manage th e s t r e s s f u l s i t u a t i o n s . Others o n l y began t o r e a l i z e t h i s d u r i n g t h e i n t e r v i e w . I t i s t h e i r f i r s t r esponse, none t h e l e s s , t o attempt t o s a t i s f y everyone e l s e . The Lived Experience of Student Mothers Encompasses Anger, Resentment, and Questioning of the Status Quo. 82 L i v i n g w i t h t h e everyday s t r u g g l e s t o f i n d t ime and energy f o r b o t h t h e i r c h i l d ( r e n ) and t h e i r s c h o o l work, and s t i l l f e e l i n g l i k e an o u t s i d e r and not v a l u e d f o r what t h e y a r e e x p e r i e n c i n g , o f t e n l e a d s s t u d e n t mothers t o use a s a r c a s t i c o r angry t o n e . A l t h o u g h t h e y g e n e r a l l y seem r e s i g n e d t o t h e f a c t s t h a t c h i l d c a r e w i l l always be m a i n l y t h e i r r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , and t h a t t h e u n i v e r s i t y i s p r e m i s e d on s i n g l e s t u d e n t s w i t h o u t o t h e r r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s , each of them a t t i m e s g e t s angry o r r e s e n t f u l about t h i s s i t u a t i o n , and q u e s t i o n s why i t s h o u l d be so. T a r a : I was brought up t o j u s t get m a r r i e d , f i n d a r i c h guy, get m a r r i e d and he would l o o k a f t e r me. But t h a t doesn't work out f o r me because I don't want t o do t h a t . She a l s o i s angry about h e r c h i l d r e n ' s s c h o o l system and t e a c h e r s , who, she f e e l s , judge h e r as a mother by how w e l l h e r c h i l d r e n a r e d r e s s e d , and how w e l l a d j u s t e d t h e y a r e : I r e a l l y wasn't e x p e c t i n g t h a t k i n d of a t t i t u d e from t h e s c h o o l system but i t ' s t h e r e and I hea r i t e v e r y y e a r w i t h a new t e a c h e r . Student mothers w i t h young c h i l d r e n a r e r e s e n t f u l about h a v i n g t o spend so much time and worry about s e c u r i n g d a y c a r e . L i n e - u p s and poor o r g a n i z a t i o n a t t h e u n i v e r s i t y a r e a n o t h e r s o r e p o i n t f o r t h e s e women, because t h e y mean t h a t t h e i r a l r e a d y 83 t i g h t t i m e s c h e d u l e i s f u r t h e r s t r e t c h e d , and t h e l i s t s o f t h i n g s t o do do not g e t any s h o r t e r . Inadequate f i n a n c i a l s u p p o r t makes many s t u d e n t mothers angry. Not h a v i n g enough money means not b e i n g a b l e t o buy good f o o d , h a v i n g t o worry about r u n n i n g out of money b e f o r e t h e end of term, h a v i n g t o t a k e on, sometimes s e v e r a l , p a r t - t i m e j o b s , and owing a l a r g e debt. T a r a : We're always h a v i n g t o k i n d of p l a y c a t c h up a l l t h e time....They say they've got a l l t h e s e g r e a t funds f o r s i n g l e mothers and i s n ' t i t w o n d e r f u l but i t ' s a p r e t t y l i b e r a l a t t i t u d e because you don't r e a l i z e what i t ' s l i k e t o a c t u a l l y l i v e i t . You've got t o be some super human b e i n g t o do t h a t . . . . 1 w i s h t h e government o r the p e o p l e who do t h e f u n d i n g would k i n d of l i g h t e n up on p e o p l e l i k e m y s e l f and say, w e l l , why don't we j u s t g i v e you t h e money you need, i n s t e a d of not q u i t e enough so t h a t y o u ' r e not always s t r u g g l i n g . Sarah's d e s c r i p t i o n of t h e p a i n i t caused h e r t o hea r h e r son mumble, as he f e l l a s l e e p "Mummy w i l l be r i g h t w i t h you," i s echoed by s e v e r a l o t h e r s t u d e n t s . S e e i n g t h e i r own b e h a v i o u r m i r r o r e d back t o them i s an i n e s c a p a b l e c o n f r o n t a t i o n w i t h what 84 t h e i r c h i l d e x p e r i e n c e s . Y e t , t h e y do not know how t o change the s i t u a t i o n , w i t h o u t g i v i n g up on s c h o o l . Sarah: I c a n ' t c r e a t e any more time w i t h o u t c u t t i n g my s t u d y l o a d back so much t h a t I c a n ' t be c o n s i d e r e d a f u l l -t i m e s t u d e n t anymore .... There's j u s t not t h e r e s o u r c e s t o c o v e r t h a t k i n d of p a r t - t i m e s t u d y . . . . I don't r e a l l y have a c h o i c e . . . . B u t a t t h i s p o i n t I'm t h i n k i n g , does he (son) have t o do i t ? He doesn't have t o i f I t a k e t h e time - i t ' s up t o t h e p a r e n t t o d e c i d e what t h e y have t o cope w i t h . Mary d e s c r i b e s h e r resentment when she had t o s t a y a t home w i t h h e r son, who had the c h i c k e n pox: You wouldn't f a i l t h e c o u r s e , but you ' r e not the s t a r p u p i l when you miss c l a s s e s . . . . E s p e c i a l l y i f p e o p l e don't r e a l i z e t h a t I'm a s i n g l e p a r e n t , t h e n t h e y would t h i n k , w e l l , why ca n ' t she be b e t t e r o r g a n i z e d , o r g e t h e r p a r t n e r t o do i t . . . b u t I don't want t o be seen as a v i c t i m . I don't want t o be seen as s t r u g g l i n g . I f i n d i t j u s t a l i t t l e b i t h u m i l i a t i n g . Marianne e x p r e s s e s h e r anger a t h e r s i t u a t i o n : I'm a s i n g l e p a r e n t . L a s t term I was w o r k i n g two p a r t - t i m e j o b s , s t u d y i n g f o u r c o u r s e s and r a i s i n g a c h i l d . My s c h e d u l e was r i d i c u l o u s . To even c o n s i d e r t h a t I c o u l d do t h a t i n the c o u r s e o f a week i s r i d i c u l o u s . I r e n e i s angry, because: I'm a mature p e r s o n . . . . I was more i n c o n t r o l of my work s i t u a t i o n , whereas as a s t u d e n t , I'm not i n c o n t r o l a t a l l of my w o r k l o a d . The l a c k of time t o s o c i a l i z e , and i n p a r t i c u l a r , not knowing any o t h e r s t u d e n t mothers i s mentioned by many women. Not h a v i n g t h e chance t o exchange t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e s , get f e e d back, o r h e l p f u l h i n t s i s something t h e y f e e l c o n t r i b u t e s t o t h e i r f e e l i n g l i k e o u t s i d e r s , and d i s a d v a n t a g e s them even more. I r e n e : " I know no one i n my s i t u a t i o n . " I n g e n e r a l , much resentment i s a l s o d i r e c t e d a t u n s u p p o r t i v e f a c u l t y and a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . S e n s i t i v i t y t r a i n i n g f o r p r o f e s s o r s was suggested, as w e l l as "making th e e x p e r i e n c e of b e i n g a mother a v a l i d one and r e s p e c t e d " ( T a r a ) . I n t h a t c o n t e x t , e v a l u a t i o n p r o c e d u r e s were seen as u n f a i r , because grade p o i n t average i s t h e most i m p o r t a n t c r i t e r i o n f o r a d m i s s i o n t o g r a d u a t e s c h o o l , whereas l i f e e x p e r i e n c e i s a s s i g n e d no, o r o n l y l o w e r v a l u e . When T a r a went t o an a d v i s o r t o g e t i n f o r m a t i o n about g r a d u a t e a d m i s s i o n , he d i s c o u r a g e d h e r : He s a i d , ' w e l l , you know, i t ' s s u r v i v a l o f t h e f i t t e s t and t h i s i s a weeding out p r o c e s s , and t h o s e 86 who can t a k e i t w i l l succeed, and t h o s e who c a n ' t , won't, and the grades show t h a t " . . . . A f t e r I l e f t , I thought, I am s u r v i v i n g . I am one o f t h e f i t t e s t . A t t h o s e t i m e s d u r i n g the i n t e r v i e w s , when t h e women e x p r e s s e d t h e i r anger o r resentment, t h e y spoke w i t h g r e a t f o r c e and a n i m a t i o n , c o n t r a r y t o f r u s t r a t i n g e x p e r i e n c e s , w h i c h were d e s c r i b e d i n a weak v o i c e . I t was as i f t h e y were i s s u i n g a c h a l l e n g e t o t h e s t a t u s quo, s a y i n g : T h i s i s NOT how i t s h o u l d be. The Lived Experience of Student Mothers F a c i l i t a t e s Re-d e f i n i t i o n of; Self as Mother A l t h o u g h a l l s t u d e n t mothers e x p r e s s e d g u i l t o v e r not b e i n g as a v a i l a b l e t o t h e i r c h i l d r e n as th e y f e e l t h e y s h o u l d be, s e v e r a l women b l u n t e d t h e i r s t a t e m e n t s o r c o n t r a d i c t e d them by p o i n t i n g out advantages t o t h e i r c h i l d . Mary: I'm r e a l l y e n j o y i n g t h e work I'm d o i n g . I have more energy because I'm h a p p i e r . . . . 1 b e l i e v e d a y c a r e i s good f o r him ( s o n ) . Emma: She needs t o be w i t h c h i l d r e n , so she's p r o b a b l y g e t t i n g more from t h e da y c a r e t h a n j u s t s p e n d i n g time w i t h me. The i m p o r t a n c e of c h i l d r e n ' s p h y s i c a l appearance, as w e l l , may be downgraded. T a r a : 87 W e l l , i t ' s j u s t t o o bad. T h e i r j e a n s have a r i p i n them and t h a t ' s j u s t t o o bad. I have t o l e t t h a t go. I t ' s j u s t appearances, so I don't t h i n k t h o s e t h i n g s a r e r e a l l y p r i o r i t i e s . Some women a c t i v e l y p l a n changes t o t h e i r r o u t i n e . I r e n e : I want t o s i t down and have one n i g h t a week t h a t I spend w i t h my c h i l d r e n . . . . 1 w orry about, do I have my p r i o r i t i e s s t r a i g h t ? I s t h i s a h e a l t h y t h i n g f o r me and f o r them? Many women i n c o r p o r a t e b e i n g a r o l e model i n t o t h e i r i d e a of what a mother s h o u l d be, and so a common j u s t i f i c a t i o n f o r b e i n g a s t u d e n t a l s o i s , as Marianne s t a t e s : "How can I t e l l them about t h e w o r l d , i f I don't know?" Wanting e d u c a t i o n t o be a v a l u e d p a r t of l i f e f o r t h e i r c h i l d r e n , women see themselves as a l i v i n g example. T a r a : I s t i l l h o l d e d u c a t i o n as a p r i o r i t y and what I'd l i k e from t h e whole e x p e r i e n c e i s t h a t b o t h my c h i l d r e n say, as j u s t a m a t t e r of t h e i r e v eryday c o n v e r s a t i o n , t h a t t h e y say, when I g r a d u a t e from u n i v e r s i t y , t h i s i s what I'm g o i n g t o do, so i t ' s a l r e a d y s e t i n them t h a t t h i s i s a p o s s i b i l i t y f o r them. 88 F i n d i n g ways t o r e l a x , and t h e r e f o r e t o be a b l e t o d e a l w i t h t h e i r s t r e s s e s more e f f e c t i v e l y , and t o r e a c t more p a t i e n t l y t o t h e i r c h i l d r e n , i s p l a n n e d by many s t u d e n t mothers. A l l a r e aware t h a t t h e y p r o b a b l y would be b e t t e r a b l e t o ha n d l e the competing demands on themselves i f t h e y were t o t a k e some time t o unwind. V a r i o u s methods a r e mentioned, such as t a k i n g a b a t h , g o i n g f o r a walk, o r g e t t i n g a massage. Only a few women, however, have made such methods of r e l a x a t i o n a r e g u l a r r o u t i n e . Most t a l k about t h a t t h e y s h o u l d do i t . Emma: " I t r y t o make i t so I can r e l a x f o r m y s e l f and a l s o i n v o l v e my f a m i l y . " A g a i n s t t h e backdrop of t h e i r f e e l i n g s of g u i l t , t h e s e s t a t e m e n t s r e p r e s e n t t h e women's at t e m p t s t o r e d e f i n e t h e i r r o l e as mother, so t h a t i t can more e a s i l y i n c o r p o r a t e t h e needs of a s t u d e n t as w e l l . Self as Student A common e x p e r i e n c e of s t u d e n t mothers i s t h a t t h e i r marks a r e l o w e r t h a n t h e y b e l i e v e t h e y a r e c a p a b l e o f , o r t h a n t h e y were b e f o r e t h e y had c h i l d r e n . A l t h o u g h t h i s i s a p a i n f u l e x p e r i e n c e , many o f t h e women l e a r n t o e v a l u a t e t h e i r marks i n l i g h t o f t h e o t h e r demands on them. Emma: I was used t o h i g h academic performance b u t t h e n I was j u s t by m y s e l f and now I had o t h e r p r i o r i t i e s . 89 Sarah: I c o u l d have done b e t t e r , but g i v e n t h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s t h a t was t h e b e s t I c o u l d do. Emma i s a good example of how women reframe t h e i r v i e w s : I t r y t o l o o k a t t h i n g s i n a d i f f e r e n t manner. Even i f t h e mark i s lo w e r , you a r e a b l e t o a c h i e v e some t h i n g s , l i k e b e i n g w i t h y o u r daughter, l o o k a t i t as: I a c h i e v e d 80% r a t h e r than I l o s t 20% o f the grade. O f t e n , women make t h e o b s e r v a t i o n t h a t t h e i r a b i l i t i e s as a s t u d e n t have become e n r i c h e d by h a v i n g c h i l d r e n . Sarah: H a v i n g a c h i l d i s an advantage because i t deepened my work. I t h i n k i t makes me b e t t e r a t what I do because 1 1m a p a r e n t . I r e n e echoes a s i m i l a r s e n t i m e n t : I t h i n k i n some r e s p e c t s , h a v i n g c h i l d r e n i s an advantage i n terms of b e i n g r e a l . . . . h a v i n g somebody t o p u l l you back down t o e a r t h . I n t a l k i n g about a d m i s s i o n c r i t e r i a t o g r a d s c h o o l s , T a r a s a y s : I t h i n k t h e y ' r e s e l l i n g t h e i r program s h o r t by o n l y a l l o w i n g t h o s e p e o p l e who have t h e p r i v i l e g e , yeh, th e p r i v i l e g e , t o be a b l e t o f o c u s a l l t h e i r a t t e n t i o n on i t , b ut t h e y ' r e l o s i n g out on c e r t a i n p e r s p e c t i v e s t h a t a r e n ' t b e i n g b r o u g h t up i n t h e r e s e a r c h t h a t ' s b e i n g done. 90 To summarize, s t u d e n t mothers reframe how t h e y see themse l v e s as s t u d e n t s by e v a l u a t i n g t h e i r marks i n l i g h t of the d i f f i c u l t i e s t h e y have i n f i n d i n g time t o stu d y , and by b e g i n n i n g t o v a l u e t h o s e s p e c i a l c o n t r i b u t i o n s t h e y as mothers can make t o academia. The Role of Family and Friends Among t h o s e women who a r e m a r r i e d , t h e e x p e r i e n c e s t h e y r e p o r t can be v e r y d i f f e r e n t . Emma's husband, f o r i n s t a n c e , t a k e s on c h i l d c a r e when she has t o be a t s c h o o l , o r needs t o st u d y . Her n e g o t i a t i o n s f o r s h a r i n g of t h i s d u t y a r e met w i t h s u p p o r t . .Joanne, on t h e o t h e r hand, meets w i t h c o n s t a n t r e s i s t a n c e . Joanne: He w i l l o c c a s i o n a l l y do d i s h e s , but makes i t w e l l known t h a t he i s making t h i s g r e a t s a c r i f i c e . A f t e r a l l , he has been out a l l day w o r k i n g . Not o n l y does Joanne not f i n d s u p p o r t from h e r husband, he a l s o b o y c o t t s h e r e f f o r t s t o get sup p o r t from h e r c h i l d r e n : I f I'm a s s e r t i v e , my husband doesn't l i k e t h a t . He doesn't want me t o d e l e g a t e . He t h i n k s i t ' s a l l my j o b . We have t h i s t e r r i b l e p r o b lem w i t h what i s a mother. Leave i t t o Beaver has an a w f u l l o t t o answer f o r . Joanne's way o f r e n e g o t i a t i n g h e r e x p e c t a t i o n s of h e r f a m i l y : 91 I s topped f i g h t i n g i t and i t ' s a s i g n i f i c a n t b r eak down i n t h e m a r r i a g e because I st o p p e d n e e d i n g him. So what I d i d was s o r t of d e c i d e d not t o need what I c o u l d n ' t have. Most women, however, r e p o r t t h a t t h e y do g e t some su p p o r t from t h e i r f a m i l y , a l t h o u g h i t may be a t e d i o u s u n d e r t a k i n g t h a t needs c o n s t a n t r e - a f f i r m a t i o n . A s t r i k i n g f i n d i n g i s the r e a l i z a t i o n by a l l p a r t i c i p a t i n g s t u d e n t mothers how i m p o r t a n t s o c i a l c o n t a c t w i t h s u p p o r t i v e f r i e n d s o r o t h e r s t u d e n t mothers i s , o r would be. T a r a : I always make s u r e t h a t I have a l i t t l e network of p e o p l e t h a t I c o u l d depend on. Sarah: I do have some s u p p o r t , and I t h i n k t h a t ' s a n o t h e r t h i n g t h a t h e l p s w i t h the s t r e s s . . . . t a l k i n g w i t h o t h e r s . Emma: I t r y t o v e n t i l a t e . . . . m y husband i s t h e f i r s t p e r s o n and I have a good f r i e n d a t s c h o o l . . . . i t ' s e a s i e r because we can communicate and when t h e r e a r e i s s u e s we t r y and t a l k about them.... Support, I t h i n k , would do m i r a c l e s . . . . There i s someone who has c h i l d r e n and I'm g o i n g t o get i n t o u c h . I r e n e summarized: I a c t u a l l y r e a l i z e d t h a t I c a n ' t do i t a l l a l o n e . 92 The Role of the University A l t h o u g h a l l s t u d e n t mothers have made t h e e x p e r i e n c e t h a t some o f t h e i r p a r t i c u l a r needs a r e not met by t h e u n i v e r s i t y , t h e y a r e a b l e t o a r t i c u l a t e w h i c h changes would be h e l p f u l . T a r a : A l i t t l e l e s s r i g i d s t r u c t u r e i n t h e c l a s s r o o m . A l i t t l e l e s s emphasis on t h i s s u r v i v a l o f t h e f i t t e s t i n t h e c l a s s r o o m environment.... I t ' s a p r i v i l e g e and i t s h o u l d n ' t be. Sarah: I t would be n i c e t o have a l i t t l e more f l e x i b i l i t y [ d e a d l i n e s ] but t h a t ' s d i s c r e t i o n a r y w i t h p r o f e s s o r s . I r e n e : The o t h e r t h i n g i s t h e f u n d i n g . You can go 40% of the t i m e , but t h e n you don't q u a l i f y f o r s t u d e n t l o a n . You need t o go 60% of a c o u r s e l o a d . The c a l l f o r p a r t - t i m e s t u d y , funded by s t u d e n t l o a n , i s a common one. Many women have had t h e e x p e r i e n c e t h a t t h e system i s n o t s e t up f o r p a r t - t i m e s t u d y , and does not a l l o w f o r time o f f when a c h i l d i s i l l . They see t h e i r f u n d i n g t h r e a t e n e d whenever t h e y cannot l i v e up t o t h e e x p e c t e d c o u r s e l o a d . S e v e r a l women, however, have found s u p p o r t networks t h r o u g h w h i c h t h e y have d i s c o v e r e d ways t o o b t a i n f i n a n c i a l h e l p . Marianne: I work v e r y c l o s e l y w i t h the Women S t u d e n t s ' O f f i c e . They're a tremendous s u p p o r t network f o r me....I got 93 q u i t e a s u b s t a n t i a l b u r s a r y , w h i c h e n a b l e d me t o s t a y i n s c h o o l and not drop o u t . . . . I t was a godsend. I t was an a b s o l u t e godsend. I t gave me energy, courage. I t was l i k e , I walked i n t h e r e w e i g h i n g 3 t o n s , and I l e f t w e i g h i n g 50 pounds.... I had hope, and I f e l t l i k e I was heard. When s t u d e n t mothers e n c o u n t e r d i f f i c u l t i e s i n m e e t i n g d e a d l i n e s , some a c t u a l l y e x p e r i e n c e s u p p o r t from f a c u l t y . Sarah: [ T a l k i n g t o p r o f e s s o r s ] t o o k t h e we i g h t of h a v i n g a l l t h e s e d e a d l i n e s o f f my s h o u l d e r s . I ' l l do what I can do, but I don't have t o , I won't f a i l i f I don't meet t h e s e d e a d l i n e s . Marianne: I've had exams d e f e r r e d , and I've a c t u a l l y had p r e t t y good e x p e r i e n c e s w i t h i n s t r u c t o r s on s t u f f l i k e t h a t . Emma: The s c h o o l i t s e l f , i t ' s g r e a t i n accommodating my needs [ f o r f l e x i b i l i t y ] t h a t way. I t was good t h a t I found out t h e s c h o o l would be so s u p p o r t i v e . These e x p e r i e n c e s have caused some of the women t o r e v i s e t h e i r v i e w of how t h e u n i v e r s i t y can accommodate them. Other women s i m p l y t a k e accommodation f o r g r a n t e d , when t h e c h i l d i s i l l . Mary: I j u s t t o l d them t h a t I had t o do i t [ s t a y home w i t h t h e c h i l d ] . I'm not s u r e i f t h e y ' d t e l l me i f i t wasn't O.K....even i f t h e y ' r e t h i n k i n g i t ' s a weak 94 excuse, no one would e v e r say because i t ' s a s a c r e d a r e a . On o c c a s i o n , women r e a c t s t r o n g l y t o u n s u p p o r t i v e f a c u l t y . One woman r e g u l a r l y s i t s i n on c l a s s e s t o observe t h e p r o f e s s o r , b e f o r e she d e c i d e s t o t a k e t h e c o u r s e . T h i s t a k e s e x t r a time, but s p a r e s h e r some n e g a t i v e e x p e r i e n c e s , such as Sa r a h ' s : "When he made t h a t comment [about s t u d e n t mothers] I got so mad I t r a n s f e r r e d out of h i s c l a s s . " I n g e n e r a l , women f e e l t h a t t h e i r l i f e e x p e r i e n c e s a r e a p p r e c i a t e d by many p r o f e s s o r s , even i f t h a t i s not u s u a l l y r e f l e c t e d i n t h e i r marks. T a r a : My p r o f s always t e l l me, y es, you're a good s t u d e n t , I r e a l l y l i k e what you have t o say, you've got e x c e l l e n t i n s i g h t . I t ' s j u s t t o o bad t h a t i t does not show i n my marks. Joanne: I a p p r e c i a t e e d u c a t i o n t e n t i m e s more now t h a n e v e r I d i d when I was 18 y e a r s o l d . . . . i t j u s t d i d n ' t mean what i t means now. When I l i s t e n t o l e c t u r e s now, i t a l l means something. However, I'm v i r t u a l l y e x c l u d e d from any honours because I'm not a b l e t o do a t l e a s t . . . . s o t h a t c l o s e s doors t o me and t h a t seems a h e l l of a shame because I t h i n k I'm a good s t u d e n t . 95 T h i s d i s c r e p a n c y f o r many of the s t u d e n t mothers, between e n j o y i n g t h e i r s t u d i e s and g e t t i n g s u p p o r t from some f a c u l t y , y e t s t i l l not p e r f o r m i n g t o t h e i r own s t a n d a r d s , b r i n g s home the p o i n t many women make: t h a t t h e y f e e l t h e y r e a l l y need c o n t a c t w i t h o t h e r s i n t h e i r s i t u a t i o n . S e v e r a l o f t h e women s t a t e d t h a t t h e i r p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n t h i s s t u d y was f u e l e d by t h e hope t o meet o t h e r s t u d e n t mothers o r f i n d a s u p p o r t group. B e i n g a b l e t o exchange s t o r i e s o f t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e s , f i n d out about r e s o u r c e s , and d i s c u s s w h i c h p r o f e s s o r s a r e s u p p o r t i v e o r not means t h e y do not have t o do i t a l l a l o n e and f e e l a l i e n a t e d . M arianne: I t ' s l i k e , I'm normal, I'm an o r d i n a r y p e r s o n i n e x t r a o r d i n a r y c i r c u m s t a n c e s , and you have t o remind y o u r s e l f t o l o o k a t i t t h a t way. You must, o r you're g o i n g t o l o s e i t . The Lived Experience of Student Mothers Either Strengthens or Weakens the Woman's Sense of Agency T h i s theme a r o s e not so much out of a c t u a l q uotes from the i n t e r v i e w s , b u t r a t h e r as a r e s u l t of the c u l m i n a t i o n of the meanings g l e a n e d from t h e p r e v i o u s seven themes. When women a r e f a c e d on a d a i l y b a s i s w i t h t h e dilemma t o have t o d e c i d e between a t t e n d i n g t o two o f t e n e q u a l l y u r g e n t demands, but f i n d t hemselves c o n s i s t e n t l y u n a b l e t o s a t i s f y e i t h e r o f t h e demands t o t h e i r own s a t i s f a c t i o n , t h e y w i l l b e g i n 96 t o f e e l i n a d e q u a t e and g u i l t y , f r u s t r a t e d , and r e s e n t f u l . At the same t i m e , t h e i r a t t e m p t s t o compensate by n e g l e c t i n g t h e i r own needs o f t e n f a i l , and s t u d e n t mothers t h e n b e g i n t o f e e l angry and s t a r t t o q u e s t i o n the s t a t u s quo. They may attempt t o r e -d e f i n e t h e i r own r o l e as mother, o r t h e i r e x p e c t a t i o n s of t h e m s e l v e s as a s t u d e n t . Or t h e y may t r y t o r e - n e g o t i a t e the s u p p o r t t h e y r e c e i v e from f a m i l y and/or f r i e n d s . They may even r e - d e f i n e how t h e y see the u n i v e r s i t y system, and t h e i r r o l e w i t h i n i t . A s t u d e n t mother may t r y any o r a l l of t h e s e s t r a t e g i e s a t one time o r a n o t h e r . A l t h o u g h a l l s t u d e n t mothers i n t h e p r o j e c t r e p o r t e d s t r u g g l i n g w i t h competing u r g e n c i e s , each of them has met w i t h d i f f e r i n g degrees of s u c c e s s a t d i f f e r e n t t i m e s i n a t t e m p t i n g t o r e - d e f i n e h e r w o r l d . I t i s t h e c u m u l a t i v e net e f f e c t of t h e s u c c e s s e s and f a i l u r e s i n r e - d e f i n i n g and r e n e g o t i a t i n g h e r w o r l d t h a t w i l l d e t e r m i n e whether she w i l l f e e l s t r e n g t h e n e d i n h e r b e l i e f i n h e r a b i l i t y t o be a s t u d e n t mother, o r whether she w i l l end up d o u b t i n g t h a t she can make i t . Sense of agency, o r t h e b e l i e f i n y o u r a b i l i t y t o e f f e c t a d i f f e r e n c e , f o r s t u d e n t mothers, then, i s a m a t t e r of degree. On one end of t h e continuum a r e women l i k e Marianne, who have v e r y l i t t l e s u p p o r t from f a m i l y and/or f r i e n d s , f e e l i n a d e q u a t e 97 as a mother, as w e l l as a s t u d e n t , and who have met w i t h l i t t l e s u c c e s s i n s e c u r i n g s u p p o r t a t s c h o o l . Marianne f e e l s : [I have] no c o n t r o l and no hope. You're not g o i n g t o f i n i s h y o u r e d u c a t i o n . T h i s i s t o o h a r d . You can't l i v e l i k e t h i s . S arah i s a n o t h e r example of a woman whose sense o f agency has been d i m i n i s h e d . Her d e v o t i o n t o h e r son p r e v e n t s . h e r from s p e n d i n g more t i m e on h e r s c h o o l i n g , she i s exhausted, and h e r h e a l t h i s d e t e r i o r a t i n g . She c o n s i d e r s : I w i l l p r o b a b l y drop out a f t e r t h i s term. Maybe I can c o n t i n u e when he's o l d e r , b ut p e o p l e t e l l me t h a t once you s t o p , you u s u a l l y don't go back. On t h e o t h e r end of the spectrum a r e women such as Emma, who have r e p e a t e d l y found ways t o be b o t h mother and s t u d e n t . They u s u a l l y have s u p p o r t i v e f a m i l y and/or f r i e n d s , as w e l l as f a c u l t y s u p p o r t . Or t h e y may have been a b l e t o re-fra m e t h e i r e x p e c t a t i o n s o f thems e l v e s as mothers and/or s t u d e n t s . These women have come t o b e l i e v e t h a t i t i s p o s s i b l e t o be a s u c c e s s f u l l s t u d e n t mother, and t h a t t h e y have t h e power t o b r i n g i t about. Emma says e m p h a t i c a l l y : " I t ' s not l i k e I'm g o i n g t o g i v e up!" Joanne, as w e l l , i n s p i t e o f h e r u n s u p p o r t i v e f a m i l y , i s de t e r m i n e d t o f i n i s h h e r degree. She draws h e r s t r e n g t h , i t 98 seems, from t h e s u p p o r t of h e r i n s t r u c t o r s , as w e l l as t h e joy-she g e t s from b e i n g a s t u d e n t . She i s c e r t a i n : I know I'm g o i n g t o make i t . Come h e l l o r h i g h water, even i f I have t o c u t back t h i s y e a r t o two c o u r s e s I w i l l do i t somehow. A l t h o u g h a l l of t h e s t u d e n t mothers i n t h i s s t u d y d e s c r i b e d s i t u a t i o n s i n wh i c h t h e y f e l t h e l p l e s s , f r u s t r a t e d , e t c . , and went t h r o u g h d i f f e r e n t s t a g e s b e f o r e a t t e m p t i n g t o r e - d e f i n e t h e i r w o r l d , some have c o n s i s t e n t l y met w i t h l i t t l e s u c c e s s , and o t h e r s have had t h e e x p e r i e n c e t h a t t h e y can make a d i f f e r e n c e . Because s t u d e n t mothers a r e f o r c e d t o c o n f r o n t t h e d i f f i c u l t i e s t h e y e n c o u n t e r , t h e i r l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e changes t h e i r sense of agency, one way o r t h e o t h e r . ^ 99 CHAPTER V DISCUSSION OF RESULTS AND CONCLUSION Introduction T h i s s t u d y a t t e m p t e d t o e l u c i d a t e t h e l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e of women who t r y t o combine b e i n g a mother w i t h b e i n g a s t u d e n t . Seven women e n r o l l e d i n an undergra d u a t e u n i v e r s i t y programme and a l s o have a t l e a s t one c h i l d , were i n t e r v i e w e d about t h e i r e v eryday e x p e r i e n c e s as a r e s u l t of b e i n g a s t u d e n t mother. The use of p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l a n a l y s i s a l l o w e d e i g h t common themes t o emerge. The l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e o f s t u d e n t mothers (1) i n v o l v e s h a v i n g t o f a c e c o n f l i c t i n g demands, (2) l e a d s t o f e e l i n g s of g u i l t and inadequacy, (3) i n d u c e s h e l p l e s s n e s s and f r u s t r a t i o n , (4) f o s t e r s a l i e n a t i o n and d i s c o n n e c t i o n , (5) c o n t r i b u t e s t o s e l f n e g l e c t , (6) encompasses anger, resentment, and q u e s t i o n i n g o f t h e s t a t u s quo, (7) f a c i l i t a t e s r e - d e f i n i t i o n o f s e l f as mother, s e l f as s t u d e n t , t h e r o l e of f a m i l y and f r i e n d s , and/or the r o l e o f t h e u n i v e r s i t y , and (8) e i t h e r s t r e n g t h e n s o r weakens t h e woman's sense of agency. These themes suggest t h a t the l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e o f s t u d e n t mothers i s a complex, ongoing p r o c e s s whose outcome depends on b o t h t h e woman and h e r environment. I t i s a p r o c e s s t h a t i s e x t r e m e l y c h a l l e n g i n g and o f t e n p a i n f u l , and i t has t h e p o t e n t i a l t o change t h e woman's sense of s e l f . F a r from b e i n g a 100 s i m p l e c o m b i n a t i o n of two r o l e s , t h e l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e o f s t u d e n t mothers i s a l i f e - a l t e r i n g metamorphosis. Multiple Roles E a r l y t h e o r i e s on m u l t i p l e r o l e s f o r women were g e n e r a l l y b u i l t around t h e mother who a l s o i s employed o u t s i d e t h e home ( P l e c k , 1977) . The i n d u s t r i a l age, as w e l l as t h e emergence of fe m i n i s m had broug h t about a d r a s t i c i n c r e a s e i n t h e number of women--even women w i t h c h i l d r e n - - w h o worked f o r pay o u t s i d e t h e home (Caplan, 1985). The c o n c e r n o f s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s , when exa m i n i n g women's m u l t i p l e r o l e s , was f o c u s e d l a r g e l y on whether t h e s e women would s t i l l be a b l e t o be 'good mothers' (Lewis, 1991; P l e c k , 1977). More r e c e n t l y , t h e f o c u s has s h i f t e d t o examine t h e i n c o m p a t i b i l i t y of b e i n g a mother and h a v i n g a c a r e e r , as opposed t o s i m p l y a j o b (Acker, 1994; Bose, 1987). T h i s d i s t i n c t i o n i s a l s o i m p o r t a n t f o r t h e r e s u l t s o f t h i s s t u d y . A j o b might occupy a woman's time and energy f o r , on average, 8 hours of the day, a f t e r w h i c h she c o u l d s w i t c h o f f and f o c u s on h e r f a m i l y . A c a r e e r , on t h e o t h e r hand, r e q u i r e s more d e v o t i o n . Overtime, i r r e g u l a r s c h e d u l e s , and t a k i n g work home a r e a l l p o s s i b i l i t i e s . As a r e s u l t , a c a r e e r encroaches on f a m i l y t i m e . The same i s t r u e f o r s t u d e n t mothers. B e i n g a s t u d e n t means h a v i n g t o f i n d q u i e t time t o s t u d y , t o work on pap e r s , and t o t h i n k about a s s i g n m e n t s . M e n t a l , and o f t e n 101 e m o t i o n a l , i n v o l v e m e n t i s r e q u i r e d , and t h a t i s not l i m i t e d t o 8 hours a day, o r t o c l a s s t ime o n l y . C o n v e r s e l y , t h i s s t u d y shows t h a t t h e e f f e c t s o f b e i n g a mother e n c r o a c h on s t u d y t i m e s . Not o n l y i s t h e r e a t e n s i o n between t h e a c t u a l amount o f time r e q u i r e d t o be a ( s u c c e s s f u l ) s t u d e n t , but a c t u a l t h o u g h t s and w o r r i e s may i n t r u d e d u r i n g c l a s s and s t u d y t i m e s . Competing Urgencies The p r e s s u r e s women f e e l t o be 'good mothers,' and t h e d e f i n i t i o n o f what a good mother i s has not changed a p p r e c i a b l y a l o n g w i t h t h e change i n women's employment s t a t u s (Hays, 1996; McMahon, 1995). As a r e s u l t , many women today e x p e r i e n c e u r g e n t demands from a t l e a s t two s i d e s : t h e i r f a m i l y and t h e i r j o b . The r e s u l t s of t h i s s t u d y c l e a r l y i n d i c a t e t h a t t h e same i s t r u e f o r s t u d e n t mothers. The women e x p e r i e n c e i n t e r n a l and e x t e r n a l p r e s s u r e t o l i v e up t o e s t a b l i s h e d s t a n d a r d s of performance, b o t h as a mother and as a s t u d e n t . T h e i r i n a b i l i t y t o c o n s i s t e n t l y s a t i s f y t h e s e competing demands l e a d s them t o f e e l g u i l t y and i n a d e q u a t e . S i m i l a r t o what Edwards (1993) d e s c r i b e s , t h e r e s u l t s suggest t h a t women e x p e r i e n c e t h e u n i v e r s i t y system t o be b u i l t on t h e pr e m i s e of t h e s i n g l e s t u d e n t who can, and s h o u l d , devote a l l h e r ti m e and energy t o h e r s t u d i e s , and not have o t h e r 102 r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . A t t h e same tim e , women s t r u g g l e w i t h t h e i r own, as w e l l as sometimes w i t h o t h e r s ' concept o f what a mother's d u t y s h o u l d be. A l t h o u g h t h e y r e a l i z e t h a t t h e r e a r e not enough hours i n a day t o s a t i s f y b o t h s e t s o f demands on them as a s t u d e n t , and what t h e y f e e l t h e y s h o u l d do and be as a 'good mother,' women f i n d i t d i f f i c u l t t o s h i r k some of the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r t h e i r c h i l d r e n . T h i s i s p a r t l y due t o t h e i r own i n t e r n a l i z e d b e l i e f s about m o t h e r i n g , as w e l l as due t o a l a c k o f a l t e r n a t i v e c a r e f o r t h e i r c h i l d . Because b o t h the u n i v e r s i t y and t h e f a m i l y a r e e x p e r i e n c e d as "greedy i n s t i t u t i o n s " (Coser, 1974), women a r e i n a c o n s t a n t dilemma. They do not see any way t o c o n s i s t e n t l y s a t i s f y b o t h of t h e i r r o l e s , and t h e y do not e a s i l y p e r c e i v e any way t o change the s i t u a t i o n . T h i s means women s t u d e n t s o f t e n f e e l h e l p l e s s and f r u s t r a t e d . The r e s u l t s o f t h i s s t u d y a l s o i n d i c a t e something t h a t m u l t i p l e r o l e t h e o r i e s f a i l t o acknowledge: Student mothers f e e l l i k e o u t s i d e r s on campus, and a t t h e same time d i s c o n n e c t e d from o t h e r mothers. Because time p r e s s u r e s do not a l l o w them t o s o c i a l i z e a p p r e c i a b l y , t h e s e women have l i t t l e c o n t a c t w i t h o t h e r s t u d e n t s o u t s i d e o f c l a s s , and o f t e n do not know any o t h e r s t u d e n t mothers. A t t h e same time t h e y do not have time t o s o c i a l i z e w i t h mothers who a r e not s t u d e n t s , and f i n d t h a t t h e y 103 have l i t t l e i n common. Edwards (1993) d e s c r i b e s s i m i l a r r e s u l t s from h e r i n t e r v i e w s w i t h mature s t u d e n t s . A second r e a s o n why some s t u d e n t mothers f e e l a l i e n a t e d on campus i s t h a t p o l i c i e s , p r a c t i c e s , and c u r r i c u l a s i m p l y do not r e f l e c t them. They f e e l t h e y must be an e x c e p t i o n t o t h e r u l e , and f e e l t h e m s e l v e s , a t b e s t , t o l e r a t e d . A s t r o n g common theme i n t h i s r e s e a r c h i s t h a t s t u d e n t mothers b e l i e v e t h e y must meet th e demands p l a c e d on them b e f o r e t h e y s a t i s f y t h e i r own needs. A l l s t u d e n t mothers r e p o r t t h a t t h e y g e t t o o l i t t l e s l e e p , and t h e r e f o r e a r e c h r o n i c a l l y t i r e d . I n a d d i t i o n , t h e y c u t back on s o c i a l i z i n g , e x e r c i s i n g , and o t h e r forms o f r e l a x a t i o n , because t h e y f e e l i t would be a waste o f t i m e . As a r e s u l t , many r e p o r t f e e l i n g more t e n s e and a n x i o u s t h a n t h e y b e l i e v e t h e y would be i f t h e y would f u l f i l l t h e i r own needs b e t t e r . Y e t , s t u d e n t mothers f i n d i t d i f f i c u l t t o j u s t i f y t a k i n g t i m e f o r t h e m s e l v e s . I n t h e r e p o r t s o f s p e c i f i c i n c i d e n t s of t h e i r l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e , s t u d e n t mothers u s u a l l y d e s c r i b e r e a c h i n g a p o i n t of c r i s i s , where t h e y r e a l i z e t h a t , i n s p i t e of a l l t h e i r e f f o r t s and s e l f - s a c r i f i c e , t h e y w i l l not be a b l e t o l i v e up t o t h e i r e x p e c t a t i o n s . T h i s i s t h e p o i n t a t w h i c h t h e y e x p r e s s anger and resentment about t h e u n f a i r n e s s of the s i t u a t i o n . They may q u e s t i o n why t h e y a r e t h e o n l y ones r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e 104 h o u s e h o l d and c h i l d c a r e , o r t h e y may q u e s t i o n u n i v e r s i t y p o l i c i e s o r an i n d i v i d u a l p r o f e s s o r ' s i n f l e x i b i l i t i e s r e g a r d i n g d e a d l i n e s . I n s h o r t , t h e y b e g i n t o q u e s t i o n t h e s t a t u s quo. A l t h o u g h t h e y e x p r e s s e d h o p e l e s s n e s s i n ch a n g i n g t h e system o r t h e i r r o l e as mothers e a r l i e r on i n the i n t e r v i e w , when t h e y d e s c r i b e d r e a c h i n g t h e i r l i m i t and f e e l i n g i n c r i s i s , t h e s e same women now began t o q u e s t i o n the s i t u a t i o n . S t udent mothers t h e n d e s c r i b e , t e n t a t i v e l y , how t h e i r w o r l d does, o r may f u n c t i o n d i f f e r e n t l y . Some make t e n t a t i v e peace w i t h t h e i d e a t h a t t h e i r c h i l d has t o be i n da y c a r e w h i l e t h e y a r e a t s c h o o l , o r t h a t someone e l s e i s l o o k i n g a f t e r t h e c h i l d a t t i m e s . Many o f t h e women d e s c r i b e b e g i n n i n g t o v i e w t h e i r academic accomplishments i n l i g h t of t h e i r o t h e r r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s , and r e a l i z e t h a t t h e y d e s e r v e t o g i v e t h e m s e l v e s more c r e d i t f o r the marks t h e y a c h i e v e . They may a l s o b e g i n t o a c c e p t t h e p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t t h e y may t a k e l o n g e r t o f i n i s h t h e i r degree. A n o t h e r way of r e - d e f i n i n g t h e i r w o r l d i s t o n e g o t i a t e more p a r t i c i p a t i o n and h e l p from t h e i r f a m i l y and/or f r i e n d s i n h o u s e h o l d and c h i l d c a r e . A d m i t t i n g t h a t t h e y cannot do i t a l l by them s e l v e s , and r e a l i z i n g t h a t t h e y s h o u l d not be e x p e c t e d t o do i t a l l by them s e l v e s , i s a b i g s t e p f o r the women. And f i n a l l y , c h a n g i n g how t h e y see, and what t h e y e x p e c t from t h e u n i v e r s i t y a l l o w s some women t o cope b e t t e r w i t h 105 t h e i r s i t u a t i o n s . They may b e g i n t o f e e l t h a t t h e y a r e j u s t i f i e d i n a s k i n g f o r e x t e n s i o n s o r o t h e r s p e c i a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s when t h e i r c h i l d i s i l l . They may speak up, o r r e f u s e t o a t t e n d c l a s s e s i n w h i c h a p r o f e s s o r makes d i s p a r a g i n g remarks about s t u d e n t mothers, o r i g n o r e s t h e i r needs. And most i m p o r t a n t l y , t h e y may a c t i v e l y seek c o n t a c t w i t h o t h e r s t u d e n t mothers o r su p p o r t groups w h i c h share t h e i r problems. A s t u d e n t mother may, a t d i f f e r e n t t i m e s , and t o d i f f e r i n g d egrees, attempt any o r a l l o f t h e s e s t r a t e g i e s . Dependent on her own p s y c h o l o g i c a l make-up, h e r f a m i l y s i t u a t i o n , and t h e r e s p o n s i v e n e s s of h e r academic environment, she may meet w i t h s u c c e s s t o v a r y i n g degrees, o r she may meet w i t h r e s i s t a n c e . I f she c o n s i s t e n t l y meets w i t h r e s i s t a n c e , and i s u n a b l e t o improve h e r s i t u a t i o n , h e r b e l i e f i n the h o p e l e s s n e s s o f t h e s i t u a t i o n w i l l grow and she i s more l i k e l y t o g i v e up h e r attempt t o combine b e i n g a mother and a s t u d e n t . To t h e degree t h a t she meets w i t h s u c c e s s i n r e - d e f i n i n g and r e n e g o t i a t i n g h e r s i t u a t i o n , h e r sense of agency w i l l i n c r e a s e , and she w i l l become more c o n f i d e n t t h a t she can be a s u c c e s s f u l s t u d e n t mother. The e x i s t i n g r e s e a r c h on m u l t i p l e r o l e s does not address the s p e c i f i c i m p l i c a t i o n s f o r s t u d e n t mothers, i n p a r t i c u l a r u n d e r g r a d u a t e s t u d e n t mothers. Edwards' (1993) s t u d y of mature 106 women does p o i n t out many of t h e same problems t h a t t h e women i n t h i s s t u d y d e s c r i b e d , but she does not come t o t h e same c o n c l u s i o n s . J u s t as Edwards (1993) shows, t h e r o l e of mother, and t h e r o l e o f s t u d e n t a r e much more t h a n r o l e s . They a r e s e l f -d e f i n i n g c o n c e p t s . The r e s u l t s of t h i s s t u d y go beyond Edwards' (1993) by r e v e a l i n g how women attempt t o r e - d e f i n e t h e s e c o n c e p t s , and/or t h e i r environment i n o r d e r t o n e g o t i a t e the d i f f i c u l t g o a l o f combining motherhood w i t h b e i n g a s t u d e n t . Thus, t h i s s t u d y makes a v a l u a b l e c o n t r i b u t i o n t o t h e s c a r c e r e s e a r c h l i t e r a t u r e on s t u d e n t mothers, and p r o v i d e s i m p o r t a n t i m p l i c a t i o n s f o r s t u d e n t c o u n s e l l i n g , as w e l l as f o r u n i v e r s i t y p o l i c y makers. Implications for Research and Practice Because so l i t t l e i s known about t h e e x p e r i e n c e o f s t u d e n t mothers, a b a s i c f o u n d a t i o n o f knowledge about t h i s p a r t i c u l a r s t u d e n t p o p u l a t i o n needs t o be c r e a t e d . T h i s r e s e a r c h p r o v i d e s an account o f t h e l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e of s t u d e n t mothers, t h a t i s , an account o f how t h e y themselves e x p e r i e n c e t h e i r l i v e s . As Van Manen (1990) p o i n t s out, g e t t i n g a t t h e n a t u r e o f knowledge must b e g i n w i t h u n d e r s t a n d i n g how i t i s known. The ph e n o m e n o l o g i c a l approach used i n t h i s s t u d y t o u n d e r s t a n d what i t i s l i k e t o be a s t u d e n t and a mother a t t h e same time c o n t r i b u t e s a b a s i c b u i l d i n g b l o c k f o r t h e s t u d y o f t h i s phenomenon. As women make 107 up more t h a n h a l f of the s t u d e n t p o p u l a t i o n i n N o r t h America, i t i s hoped t h a t many more r e s e a r c h e r s w i l l f i n d t h i s p o p u l a t i o n worthy o f i n t e r e s t . Because t h i s s t u d y i s based on o n l y a s m a l l number o f s t u d e n t mothers, r e p l i c a t i o n s t u d i e s w i t h l a r g e r numbers c o u l d f u r t h e r e x p l o r e t h e r e - n e g o t i a t i o n p r o c e s s e s t h a t emerged h e r e . I n a d d i t i o n , t h e r e s u l t s o f t h i s s t u d y e n r i c h the u n d e r s t a n d i n g of m u l t i p l e r o l e s f o r women, by d e m o n s t r a t i n g t h a t motherhood and 'studenthood' a r e b o t h more t h a n j u s t r o l e s . Women's s t r u g g l e t o r e - d e f i n e t h e m s e l v e s , i n t h e i r own eyes, and the eyes of t h o s e i m p o r t a n t t o them, i s a p a i n f u l and complex p r o c e s s , t h a t some women n e g o t i a t e s u c c e s s f u l l y , and o t h e r s do n o t . I t seems an i m p o r t a n t a r e a f o r c o n t i n u e d r e s e a r c h . T h i s r e s e a r c h a l s o c o n t a i n s i n f o r m a t i o n f o r u n i v e r s i t y p o l i c y makers and c o u n s e l l i n g a g e n c i e s . Student mothers c l e a r l y do n o t see thems e l v e s r e f l e c t e d i n p o l i c i e s o r t h e s t u d e n t body. The f a c t t h a t t h e y f e e l i s o l a t e d and a l i e n t o t h e norm of what th e y f e e l a s t u d e n t i s e x p e c t e d t o be, c o n t r i b u t e s t o t h e i r problems a t u n i v e r s i t y . P o l i c y makers would do w e l l t o attempt t o a d d r e s s some of the a r e a s s t u d e n t mothers have p o i n t e d out as p r o b l e m a t i c . More p a r t - t i m e s t u d i e s , w i t h b e t t e r f u n d i n g , more f l e x i b i l i t y i n s c h e d u l e s and d e a d l i n e s , g r e a t e r v i s i b i l i t y f o r s t u d e n t mothers, and s e n s i t i v i t y t r a i n i n g f o r p r o f e s s o r s a r e j u s t some of t h e s u g g e s t i o n s t h e women made. The account of the 108 women's l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e s s h o u l d p r o v i d e many more s u g g e s t i o n s f o r improvement. C o u n s e l l i n g a g e n c i e s t h a t s e r v i c e s t u d e n t mothers a l s o can b e n e f i t from t h e a c c o u n t s of the l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e s d e s c r i b e d i n t h i s s t u d y . Student mothers' s t r u g g l e s w i t h f e e l i n g s of g u i l t , i nadequacy, f r u s t r a t i o n , h e l p l e s s n e s s , anger, and resentment may l e a d them t o seek c o u n s e l l i n g . The i m p l i c a t i o n s of t h i s s t u d y s h o u l d i n f o r m t h e t r a i n i n g of c o u n s e l l o r s i n t h e f i e l d of h i g h e r e d u c a t i o n , t o e n a b l e them t o a s s i s t s t u d e n t mothers t o s o r t out t h o s e f e e l i n g s , and h e l p them r e - d e f i n e t h e m s e l v e s and t h e i r w o r l d . I n a d d i t i o n , t h i s s t u d y c l e a r l y p o i n t s out t h e need f o r group s u p p o r t f o r s t u d e n t mothers. Conclusion The purpose of t h i s s t u d y was t o p r o v i d e a p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l account of t h e l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e o f s t u d e n t mothers. I t o f f e r s an u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f what i t i s l i k e t o be a s t u d e n t and a mother a t t h e same t i m e , from t h e p e r s p e c t i v e of t h e s t u d e n t mothers t h e m s e l v e s . The i n t e n t of t h i s i n v e s t i g a t i o n i s t o p r o v i d e a b a s i c s t r u c t u r e o f t h e l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e o f t h e r e l a t i v e l y new phenomenon of s t u d e n t mother. As i s r e a s o n a b l e f o r a p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l i n v e s t i g a t i o n , i t i s based on a r e l a t i v e l y s m a l l sample s i z e . I t i s hoped t h a t the r e s u l t s o f t h i s s t u d y w i l l s p a r k t h e i n t e r e s t of o t h e r r e s e a r c h e r s t o b u i l d on t h e 109 b a s i c s t r u c t u r e t h i s s t u d y p r o v i d e s , and e x p l o r e t h e s u b j e c t of s t u d e n t mothers f u r t h e r . I t i s a l s o hoped t h a t t h e r e s u l t s of t h i s s t u d y w i l l h e l p i n f o r m p o l i c y makers and c o u n s e l l i n g a g e n c i e s a t u n i v e r s i t i e s , so t h a t s t u d e n t mothers w i l l f i n d t h e i r needs met t o a g r e a t e r degree t h a n t h e y have t o d a t e . T h i s s t u d y p r o v i d e s a r i c h d e s c r i p t i o n of t h e s t r u g g l e s and p a i n s t u d e n t mothers e n c o u n t e r i n t h e i r a t t e m p t s t o be b o t h the mother t h e y want t o be and t h e s t u d e n t t h e y know t h e y can be. I t g i v e s an account of t h e meaning women d e r i v e from t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e s , and t h e at t e m p t s t h e y make t o change t h e i r s i t u a t i o n . D e s c r i p t i o n s of the s t r a t e g i e s women employ t o meet t h e i r g o a l s i n c l u d e r e - f r a m i n g and r e - d e f i n i t i o n o f s e l f and r e -n e g o t i a t i o n of terms w i t h t h e w o r l d around them. The l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e o f s t u d e n t mothers a l s o g i v e s an account o f t h e d i f f e r e n t outcomes p o s s i b l e under d i f f e r e n t c i r c u m s t a n c e s . A woman may be s t r e n g t h e n e d o r weakened i n h e r r e s o l v e and a b i l i t y t o cope w i t h t h e demands of b e i n g b o t h a mother and a s t u d e n t . T h i s s t u d y p r e s e n t s i n r i c h d e t a i l t h e l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e of un d e r g r a d u a t e s t u d e n t mothers a t a u n i v e r s i t y . The r e s u l t s suggest t h a t t h e s e women e x p e r i e n c e a complex, c o n s t a n t l y r e c u r r i n g p r o c e s s of b e i n g c h a l l e n g e d i n t h e i r r o l e s , and c o n s e q u e n t l y r e - d e f i n i n g themselves and/or t h e i r w o r l d . The l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e o f s t u d e n t mothers c o n t r i b u t e s s i g n i f i c a n t l y t o 110 t h e t r a n s f o r m a t i o n of t h e women, and how t h e y v i e w themselves and t h e w o r l d around them. F i n a l l y , i t i s i m p o r t a n t t o r e c o g n i z e t h a t t h i s s t u d y has a number o f l i m i t a t i o n s . F i r s t , t h e seven s t u d e n t mothers i n t h e sample were r e c r u i t e d f o r a s t u d y on s t r e s s and c o p i n g . Second, some o f t h e i n t e r v i e w q u e s t i o n s were g e n e r a l , but o t h e r s asked s p e c i f i c a l l y about s t r e s s f u l o r d i s t r e s s i n g e x p e r i e n c e s . I t i s not p o s s i b l e t o know, t h e r e f o r e , whether d i f f e r e n t r e c r u i t m e n t p r o c e d u r e s and i n t e r v i e w q u e s t i o n s would have y i e l d e d s i m i l a r themes o r a d i f f e r e n t common s t o r y . T h i r d , t h e s t u d y d i d not i n c l u d e a v a l i d a t i o n p r o c e s s i n whi c h t h e themes were p r e s e n t e d back t o t h e women t o o b t a i n t h e i r r e a c t i o n s , as i s done i n some, a l t h o u g h my no means a l l , p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l r e s e a r c h . F o u r t h , the s m a l l sample of seven s t u d e n t mothers l i m i t s t h e g e n e r a l i z a b i l i t y of t h e f i n d i n g s and i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s t o t h e s e seven women's s p e c i f i c c u l t u r a l , s o c i a l , and h i s t o r i c a l c o n t e x t s . F u r t h e r r e s e a r c h i s r e q u i r e d , and i n d e e d needed, t o det e r m i n e t h e e x t e n t t o whi c h t h e l i m i t a t i o n s o f t h i s s t u d y a r e t r u l y l i m i t i n g , o r whether the same themes and a s i m i l a r common s t o r y would be found i n a s t u d y t h a t d i d n o t have t h e s e l i m i t a t i o n s . I l l REFERENCES A c k e r , S. (1994). Gendered e d u c a t i o n : S o c i o l o g i c a l r e f l e c t i o n s on women, t e a c h i n g and femi n i s m . Buckingham, UK: Open U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s . B e r n a r d , H. R. (1994). R e s e a r c h methods i n a n t h r o p o l o g y : Q u a l i t a t i v e and q u a n t i t a t i v e approaches, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. B i r n s , B., & Hay, D. F. ( E d s . ) . ( 1 9 8 8 ) . The d i f f e r e n t f a c e s of motherhood. New York: Plenum P r e s s . Bose, C. E. (1987). Dual s p h e r e s . I n B. B. Hess & M. M. F e r r e e (Eds.) 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G i o r g i (Ed.), Phenomenology and p s y c h o l o g i c a l r e s e a r c h (pp. 8-22) . P i t t s b u r g h , PA: Duquesne U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s . G o r l i c k , C. S. (1992). The female s i n g l e p a r e n t s t u d e n t . Canadian Woman S t u d i e s , 1 2 ( 4 ) , 55-57. Guppy, N., & Trew, M. (1995). Graduate s t u d e n t e x p e r i e n c e a t UBC: An assessment f i n a l r e p o r t . U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h . C olumbia. Hays, S. (1996). The c u l t u r a l c o n t r a d i c t i o n of motherhood. New Haven: Y a l e U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s . H e l d , V. (1983). The o b l i g a t i o n s o f mothers and f a t h e r s . I n J . T r e b i l c o t (Ed.), M o t h e r i n g : Essays i n f e m i n i s t t h e o r y . M a r y l a n d , PA: Rowman & L i t t l e f i e l d . 113 H o c h s c h i l d , A., & Machung, A. (1989). The second s h i f t : Working p a r e n t s and t h e r e v o l u t i o n a t home. New York: V i k i n g Penguin. H o l s t e i n , J . A., & Gubrium, J . F. (1994). Phenomenology, ethnomethodology, and i n t e r p r e t i v e p r a c t i c e . I n N.K. D e n z i n & Y.S. L i n c o l n ( E d s . ) , Handbook of q u a l i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h (pp. 262-272). Thousend Oaks, CA: Sage P u b l i c a t i o n . Hooper, J . 0., & March, G. B. (1980). The female s i n g l e p a r e n t i n t h e u n i v e r s i t y . J o u r n a l of C o l l e g e Student P e r s o n n e l . 21, 141-146. I n n i s Dagg, A., & Thompson, P. J . (1988). Women and Canadian u n i v e r s i t i e s . T o r o n t o : O n t a r i o I n s t i t u t e f o r S t u d i e s i n E d u c a t i o n . J e n n i n g s , J . L. (1986). H u s s e r l r e v i s i t e d : The f o r g o t t e n d i s t i n c t i o n between p s y c h o l o g y and phenomenology. American P s y c h o l o g i s t . V o l . 4 1 ( 1 1 ) . 1231-1240. K a r l s s o n , G.(1993). P s y c h o l o g i c a l q u a l i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h from a p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l p e r s p e c t i v e . Stockholm, Sweden: A l m q u i s t & W i k s e l l I n t e r n a t i o n a l . K a t z , M., & V i e l a n d , V. (1988). Get smart! A woman's gui d e t o e q u a l i t y on campus. New York: F e m i n i s t P r e s s a t t h e C i t y U n i v e r s i t y o f New York. K y l e , N. (1986). Her n a t u r a l d e s t i n y : The e d u c a t i o n of women i n New South Wales. K e n s i n g t o n , NSW: New South Wales U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s . L e w i s , S. (1991). Motherhood, meanings, p r a c t i c e s and i d e o l o g i e s . I n A. Phoenix, A. W o o l l e t t , & E. L l o y d ( E d s . ) , Motherhood: Meanings, p r a c t i c e s and i d e o l o g i e s . London: Sage. L e w i s , S. (1991a). Motherhood and employment: The impact of s o c i a l and o r g a n i z a t i o n a l v a l u e s . I n A. Phoenix, A. W o o l l e t t & E. L l o y s ( E d s . ) , Motherhood: Meanings, p r a c t i c e s and i d e o l o g i e s . London: Sage. McMahon, M. (1995). Engendering motherhood: I d e n t i t y and s e l f - t r a n s f o r m a t i o n i n women's l i v e s . New York: G u i l d f o r d P r e s s . Nakano Glenn, E. (1994). S o c i a l c o n s t r u c t i o n o f m o t h e r i n g : A t h e m a t i c o v e r v i e w . I n E. Nakano Glenn, G. Chang, & L. Rennie 114 F o r c e y ( E d s . ) , M o t h e r i n g : I d e o l o g y , e x p e r i e n c e , and agency. New York: R o u t l e d g e . Osborne, J . W. (1990). Some b a s i c e x i s t e n t i a l -p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l r e s e a r c h methodology f o r c o u n s e l l o r s . Canadian J o u r n a l o f C o u n s e l l i n g , 2 4 ( 2 ) , 79-91. Osborne, J . W.. (1994). Some s i m i l a r i t i e s and d i f f e r e n c e s among p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l and o t h e r methods of p s y c h o l o g i c a l q u a l i t a t i v e r e s e a r c h . Canadian P s y c h o l o g y , 3 5 ( 2 ) , 167-189. Phoen i x , A., W o o l e t t , A., & L l o y s , E. (1991). Motherhood: Meanings, p r a c t i c e s and i d e o l o g i e s . London: Sage. P l e c k , J . H. (1977). The w o r k - f a m i l y r o l e system. S o c i a l Problems. 24, 417-427. P o l k i n g h o r n e , D. E. (1989). P h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l r e s e a r c h methods. I n R. S. V a l l e & S. H a i l i n g ( E d s . ) , E x i s t e n t i a l -p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l p e r s p e c t i v e s i n p s y c h o l o g y (pp. 41-60). New York: Plenum P r e s s . P o l k i n g h o r n e , D. (1983). Methodology f o r t h e human s c i e n c e s . A l b a n y , NY: S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y of New York P r e s s . P u r v i s , J . (1991). A h i s t o r y of women's e d u c a t i o n i n England. Buckingham, GB: Open U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s . Pyke, S. W. (1997). E d u c a t i o n and t h e "woman q u e s t i o n " . Canadian P s y c h o l o g y , 3 8 ( 3 ) , 159-165. Rendon, L. I . & Jalomo, R. J r . (1995). V a l i d a t i n g s t u d e n t e x p e r i e n c e and p r o m o t i n g p r o g r e s s , performance, and p e r s i s t e n c e t h r o u g h assessment. U n i v e r s i t y Park, PA: N a t i o n a l C e n t e r on P o s t s e c o n d a r y T e a c h i n g , L e a r n i n g , and Assessment. (ERIC Document R e p r o d u c t i o n S e r v i c e s No. ED 381 051). Rubin, L. (1983). I n t i m a t e s t r a n g e r s : Men and women l i v i n g t o g e t h e r . S c h i c k , C. (1994). The u n i v e r s i t y as t e x t : Women and t h e u n i v e r s i t y c o n t e x t . H a l i f a x , NS: Fernwood P u b l i s h i n g . Smith, D. E. (1987). The everyday w o r l d as p r o b l e m a t i c : A f e m i n i s t s o c i o l o g y . T o r o n t o : U n i v e r s i t y of T o r o n t o P r e s s . 115 S t a t i s t i c s Canada (1997). E d u c a t i o n Q u a r t e r l y Review, V o l . 4_ No. 1., # 81-003-XPB. S t a t i s t i c s Canada (1996). E d u c a t i o n i n Canada. # 81-229-XPB. S t a t i s t i c s Canada (1995). E d u c a t i o n S t a t i s t i c s B u l l e t i n , V o l . 9, No. 5. # 81-002. S t e w a r t , L. (1990). " I t ' s up t o you": Women a t UBC i n t h e e a r l y y e a r s . Vancouver, BC: U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia P r e s s . S w i f t , J . S., C o l v i n , C , & M i l l s , D. (1987). D i s p l a c e d homemakers: A d u l t s r e t u r n i n g t o c o l l e g e w i t h d i f f e r e n t c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s and needs. J o u r n a l of C o l l e g e Student P e r s o n n e l , 40, 343-350. S w i s s , D., & Walker, J . P. (1993). Women and t h e w o r k / f a m i l y dilemma: How today's p r o f e s s i o n a l women a r e c o n f r o n t i n g t h e m a t e r n a l w a l l . New York: John W i l e y & Sons. T h i e r n e y , W. (Ed . ) . (1991). C u l t u r e and i d e o l o g y i n h i g h e r e d u c a t i o n : A d v a n c i n g a c r i t i c a l agenda. New York: P r a e g e r . T h u r e r , S. L. (1994). The myths of motherhood: How c u l t u r e r e i n v e n t s t h e good mother. New York: Houghton M i f f l i n . V a l l e , R. S., K i n g , M., & H a i l i n g , S. (1989). An i n t r o d u c t i o n t o e x i s t e n t i a l - p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l thought i n p s y c h o l o g y . I n R. S. V a l l e & S. H a i l i n g ( E d s . ) , E x i s t e n t i a l -p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l p e r s p e c t i v e s i n p s y c h o l o g y (pp. 3-17) . New York: Plenum P r e s s . Van Manen, M. (1990). R e s e a r c h i n g l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e : Human s c i e n c e f o r an a c t i o n s e n s i t i v e pedagogy. London: A l t h o u s e P r e s s . Van Stone, N., N e l s o n , J . R., & Niemann, J . (1994). Poor s i n g l e - m o t h e r c o l l e g e s t u d e n t s ' v i e w s on t h e e f f e c t of some p r i m a r y s o c i o l o g i c a l and p s y c h o l o g i c a l b e l i e f f a c t o r s on t h e i r academic s u c c e s s . J o u r n a l of H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n , 6 5 ( 5 ) , 571-584. Welch, L. B. (Ed.) (1990). Women i n h i g h e r e d u c a t i o n : Changes and c h a l l e n g e s . New York: P r a e g e r . 116 Young, B. (1992). On c a r e e r s : Themes from t h e l i v e s of f o u r w e s t e r n Canadian e d u c a t o r s . Canadian J o u r n a l of E d u c a t i o n , 1 7 ( 2 ) , 148-161. APPENDIX B 118 ID U DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION 1. age: ' 2. Faculty: Part-time: Full-time: 3. race/ethnicity : Programme Year : 1st 2 n d 3 r d 4 t h 5 th 6 th 7 th 8th 4. Are you: married/common-law separated: . widowed divorced : single : 5. What is the make-up of your household? Please include all relatives and non-relatives living with you their relationship to you and their age. 1. 2." 3.] 4. " 5. " 6. " 7. " Relationship to You Age 8. APPENDIX C 119 INDEPTH INTERVIEWS The interviewer will introduce herself, briefly explain the project and verbally explain the informed consent. The interviewee will read the consent statement, ask any questions they may have, sign a copy, and retain the original. The following types of questions will be asked. The interviewer will respond by reflecting and asking for clarification where necessary. 1. What do you consider the most distressing aspect of being a student mother? 2. Could you describe that to me as if you were telling a story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. 3. What did you do to try to deal with the situation. 4. What consequences did you experience (social, behavioral, health, etc.) 5. What helped? 6. What hindered? 7. What have you learned about yourself as a consequence? 8. What would you like to see changed? 9. What advise do you have for other student mothers? APPENDIX D 120 First contact telephone protocol _ We are currently compiling a list, of interested participants. The study will involve individual interviews and / or participation in a focus group to discuss your experiences of what it is like to be a mother and a student at the same lime, live individual interviews will consist of a first interview which should take 1 to 1.5 hours, and a follow up interview which could be somewhat shorter. We expect the focus groups to run approximately 3 hours. You may participate in either the interviews or a focus group or both. Childcare subsidy will be available. Of course, all information you give us will be held confidential, and you may decline participation at any time. Do you have any questions at this time that I may answer? If not, may I ask you a few short questions? 1) Are you a registered student? 2) Which faculty? Program? Year? 3) How many children do you have? Ages? Gender? 4) Single parent or living with a partner? 5) Mature student? Age? 6) Name? Phone number? Thank you. We are conducting individual interviews at this time, and plan to start with focus groups soon. Someone will contact you to set up a time and place most convenient to you. However, the study will run over a number of months, therefor it may be a while until we will get to you. . 

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