In my college career, and especially at UT, I have tried my level best to blend.

Now, it’s plainly clear there’s a zero percent chance that a middle-aged, chunky white lady is going to blend. But I, if I do say so myself, am fairly well crushing it. What I mean by “blend” is that I make a concentrated effort to identify with and relate to my classmates.

But I’ve got something they don’t have.

On any given week, a person could, if they so choose, come to the offices of The Daily Beacon. In the middle of the open office sits a full-sized, gloriously fake mahogany conference table. Not to assume gender, but this table was dubbed pretty early in the semester as “The Girl’s Table.”

The group members vary from day to day but all are welcome. Many are journalism majors. We talk about reporting; we talk about deadlines; we talk about much needed girls’ nights.

But there’s one thing we never talk about. This one thing is always on my mind and it always takes precedence above everything else. Besides my age, it’s the next major factor that sets me apart from most, if not all, of my jet-setting, college reporter friends.

It’s my kids.

Being a full-time student and a mom is hard. I miss a lot, or at least I feel like I do. Evening classes are the worst, because I come home to a dark house, the faint robust smell of dinner lingering in the kitchen but no food in sight because it’s hours past dinner time. Or, worse yet, I come home to kitchen and living room that looks like Jason Bourne ransacked it – telltale signs of a bad evening.

I have guilt. I feel like I should be helping my partner more. We work best together and when I have to miss life events (even as simple as dinner), it makes us both sad. Relinquishing responsibility has been especially hard for me.

I’m the mom! I’m supposed to bandage knees, go to PTA meetings and bake the brownies. What if - God forbid! - they figure out how to do it without me?

This time in the semester is always frantic, too - the work starts piling up. I promise myself I’ll do it differently every semester. I’ll make my lists and I’ll stick to ‘em! But I always end up working overtime and burning the candle at both ends. My Beacon friends are helping me realize, it’s not me. It’s just student life. That helps, but it doesn’t quite fix that feeling of being split between two worlds.

One thing I try to remember is that the example I set for my kids is more important than I realize most of the time. My stressed-out perspective is a one-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional reality. I see myself as an absentee parent, my children see their mother working hard towards her goal. Yours probably do, too.

Christy White is a junior studying Journalism and Electronic Media. She can be reached at cwhit106@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

UT Sponsored Content