My Life as a Student-Mom: Behind the Scenes of a Single Mom in College

As winner of the writer contest, Kelsey L. talks about being a single mom -- with law school dreams -- trying to finish her college degree.

About Me:

I've been called a lot of things over the past year. Yes, I am a single mother. Yes, I am a college student. Yes, I am that waitress who brought out your steak dinners and scrubbed down the table when you left. (How was that $60 bottle of wine?)

But there are a few labels floating around that do not qualify. I am not selfish for taking my 5-month old son away from family to finish school. I am not a soap box rallier dramatizing this situation.

I'm twenty-two years old with a baby, about 500 miles from family and support systems, tens of thousands of dollars from becoming a lawyer, weeks away from paying bills and rent. I'm a mother with a million ways to fail, or fall behind, or not quite make it, but only one way to succeed. After all, if I cannot reach the stars, there should be several branches I might grasp onto on the way back down to earth. I'll still be closer than if I hadn't leaped at all.

I am doing this because I don't know what else to do. I believe getting the best education I can get is best for my son -- even if it means being away from my circle of free caregivers. I believe I should still continue to become the lawyer I've always dreamed of being -- even though I "mistakenly" got pregnant. I believe I'm still giving my son everything I have to offer.

I know this life won't be glamorous. I'm not even sure it will all work out.

I'm afraid of the dark. I'm afraid of the numbers on my student loan applications. I get out of bed each morning (and several times throughout the night) knowing only that to stop is to surrender, and I cannot do that. I cannot surrender my five-month-old angel to a life bound by the socio-economic restrictions of a career-waitress mother and a factory-working father. As hard as each of us, or either of us, or even in a best case scenario, both of us work together for him. . . this economy just is not gracious to either.

The following contains explicit content-honesty, grueling truths-about the real life of a single, working, college-student Mom.

Next: A Day in the Hectic Life of a Single Mom in College »
Comments (11)
Anya N.
I am a twenty year old college student. I'm taking one year off from being a full time student to have my child while taking online courses.This post was extremely comforting knowing that there is another young, single mom out there trying hard to balance school and raising a child. I am on my own as the father does not want to be involved, but I hope to return to college full time next year. I've done a lot of research and I am sure I can do it, but it's the emotional stress that worries me. This post gives me hope. Thank you for sharing.
Posted: September 08, 2015 at 12:39 AM
This post made me tear up, and I thank you. I salute you and I ask that no matter what people may think of you, you never succumb to the filth they have laid out. I'm not a single mom and I still struggle so I can imagine what you're going through. Please keep striving and become that lawyer you are destined to become. I believe your decisions are right on target, you are not thinking of yourself but of your son's future. kudos.. Please stay on track. I hope everything works out..
Posted: May 16, 2013 at 9:47 PM
Mommy T
I so admire you!!! For I was in a similar situation when entering law school several years ago. Though I chose a different path when it appeared just too overwhelming to finish school and be a great parent while hundreds of miles away from support, I am confident that I made the right decision to not finish law school and raise my son alone. He was and is worth it. Stay strong and hang in there -- your son will greatly admire you, as well.
Posted: October 27, 2011 at 11:28 AM
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Kimberly M.
You are amazing! And you should so proud of who you were and who are now and who you will become! The choices you make in life are the best for you no one else. Congrats!
Posted: October 20, 2011 at 5:25 PM
Alexia F.
You have the most Adorable kid ever (:
Posted: October 01, 2011 at 9:10 PM
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Sarah E.
I too have a similar story, as a mother of three beautiful babies, a college student and a full time worker I know how hard it is to juggle everything. Last year I married the man of my dreams and while i am no longer a single mother, the battle to juggle everything is ongoing. You are not alone, there are many of us out there and congrats on your education, it is the best investment you can ever make.

God bless and never give up
Posted: September 28, 2011 at 11:53 AM
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Jillian S.
Wow! Fears to live with through the day as you walk forward making it look simple I'm sure. A mothers fear touches all individuals as I speak for many, when I say we are proud knowing you take the right steps toward school, work and family. Sending hugs your way, as many wish they could be closer. Know you are strong enough to be smart, healthy and wise. Life is beautiful even through the years we may see as stressful. Out comes the strength to take those walks feed those ducks smile toward finish lines you've set as goals. Nevertheless the real growing pains you face 24/7 knowing you have the tools you seek to find. Support you will find as you go through life following through, no matter the direction you choose to take. Always ask, stay cute feel better look again in that mirror as to not forget what you see as you walk away. Stay busy learning to learn and your prepared mind will meet opportunity. Take those deep breathes stretch out the so called mommy tension that crawls up from the shoulders and know your confidence is healthy. There are ways to fall asleep at night vs feeling the teared stress that creeps in, diphenhydramine 25mg / acetaminphen 500 mg pain relief the nigh-time sleep aid from right aid. Please know the importance of your nights rest helps mommy do her best. Know your county has a rehab center where school and proper job placement is priority, Kaiser has this available just ask. Foods expensive know your food bank locations, general relief stations, coupons and cards that are like you pay $10 for a $20 whole foods card I know your eagle eye already see's these things just know even you can save money for the right reasons.
Posted: September 22, 2011 at 3:37 PM
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Annmarie S.
Wow, I really hope you succeed with your education. At least you have the tenacity to not only go to school away from family and friends that would help you, you are doing it on your own with your son. This road of life is full of bumps and road blocks and occasional wrong turns but the only thing that matters is that you do not give up and you keep going because you will get to where you are going.
Posted: September 19, 2011 at 1:24 AM
Jose M.
hello kelsey as a father and having 3 jobs i totally understand how you feel,but do me a favor and never look back and don't quit.keep going some day your dreams will come thrue and your son will be there to thank you for your hard work,good job and keep looking forward,Jose philadelphia,pa
Posted: September 17, 2011 at 4:38 PM
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Deborah T.
Hi Kelsey, your story brings tears to my eyes almost weeping! You remind me of myself back in my early twenties when I unexpectedly became pregnant. I never believed in or condoned abortion. When I found myself in that situation, I completely freaked out, didn't want to marry the father and found myself doing something totally WRONG! I so regret that decision and remember wanting to die afterwards and for about 6 months lived a very self destructive life; my friends were seriously worried about me. Then I found God! Everything changed and I became a counselor for pregnancy centers and an emergency contact over the phone for young women. It was one of the most difficult things I did. While I didn't have great plans of a career like you. My dreams were to be married and have children and that didn't happen until I was 28. Up until then I worked many different wonderful jobs and always grew in position and finances. All the while though living with the painful memories of how old my child would be.

I did marry at 28 and my first pregnancy was beautiful, they all were, but I remember weeping when I felt the butterflies and moving of the infant within me and I wept for the child I killed. It was hard as I started to become pregnant 11 months after my first and then I lost a child inbetween the 2nd and 3rd childn I have now...difficult times, but the best of times too!

SO I want to say, YOU GO GIRL! You are an awesome, wonderful MOM!!! YOU ARE CHOOSING THE BEST for your baby and you gave birth to a human life who will make a difference in this world. It is difficult more so than it was for me because you are young and going to college along with the huge responsibility of being a mom/parent! Being a mom is one of the MOST important jobs you will ever have... they have done studies to find our worth in $$$ and NO ONE can afford to pay us for ALL we do in that JOB! You have given life to a little life and the bond you have is amazing and I believe you will help each other grow to be the best persons you can be! : )

I found even though I didn't choose a career like you.. being a mom/parent is one of the most difficult/challenging and heartbreaking (when they become teens)it seems heartbreaking when they are not on the same page as you, : ) experiences you will ever have BUT ALSO the MOST SATISFYING and REWARDING ADVENTURE AND BLESSING AS A WOMAN you will ever experience too!!! To be able to shape the minds of little ones/watch them grow and become productive adults and citizens and just the love that you will share with your child... there is nothing like it! I am sure you already understand this or why would you be where you are at now and doing what you are doing! So I pray for strength, continued vision you have for becoming a lawyer, and peace and total PROVISION for you and your child in every way spiritually/financially/health wise/practically and emotionally from GOD!

I am now 51 and a single mom of 4 children for the past 4 years through divorce that I didn't plan on or want after being married for just shy of 19 years. 2 children are out of the home and 2 are here. Even though they are 17 and 15..I have been their only REAL PARENT that is HERE for them. Dad is too busy living a selfish life and wining and dining the women and always telling his children he doesn't have time and or money for them. After going through all the court proceedings that I filed myself and collected/gathered information to bring with me to court (i could not afford a lawyer), I was granted total favor from the judge...being considered a dependent spouse since I agreed to stay home and raise the children..I won PSS Post Spousal Support before the Alimony and then the alimony..of course child support and he was court ordered to continue paying the private school they were in along with having to provide medical insurance. I know God/Jesus is my advocate and a very present help in trouble and while I did not go through all that alone or go for the juggler...I was awarded all that I needed though it is still hard being the only one that is there for them. It's funny on my paperwork from the court system they kept saying my occupation was a Lawyer and I chuckled because I guess that is how they saw me and for a short time I thought seriously of going to school to help women like me you have been used/abused and then dumped and left in situations that are almost helpless and I wanted to give free legal service to women like me. My passion is nutrition though and possibly the medical field and I have recently completed a course to become a CNA and then from there go into ultrasound or an RN program. We shall see. Thank you for taking the time to read my LONG note here. You are truly an amazing woman and I pray the BEST for you and your child! I pray protection on your child while you are at school and studying and a very successful legal practice of your own one day and to be reunited with family and friends when the timing is right! God Bless you in everything. Debbie : )
Posted: September 17, 2011 at 1:23 PM
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Michelle D.
I really enjoyed your post. I am a mom of 3 daughters, struggling freelance Caterer/Housekeeper and online college student. I'm married but am too struggling with loans and parenthood! Will keep you in my prayers. You are a great mom! Michelle D. in Pennsylvania email me!
Posted: September 14, 2011 at 11:57 PM
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