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Getting Schooled on Motherhood: A working student-mom reveals how she keeps it all together 

Madelyn Driver takes on the life of a mother while studying at COCC.

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Being a mom isn’t easy.

And the life of a college student, while often enjoyable and soaked in spirits for twenty-somethings, ain’t no cake walk, especially if you have a family, too.

Looming deadlines, test-anxiety nightmares and the rising cost of tuition are all legitimate stressors.

So why would someone want to take on both duties simultaneously?

We weren’t sure, so we talked to San Francisco resident-turned-Bendite Madelyn Driver—mother, student, wife and freelance bookkeeper to find out.

Turns out she’s not crazy. But she is a damn sight more driven and motivated than we are.


A typical Wednesday for Driver, a 40-year-old business major at Central Oregon Community College, looks like this: rise at 7 a.m., two hours before class; make a cup of Earl Grey tea; get herself and Tristan ready and leave by 8:30ish a.m. so she can drop off Tristan at pre-school and get to class by 9 a.m.; spend two hours in math lab and another hour-and-a-half in microeconomics; pick up Tristan after class; spend time with Tristan at home; start dinner by 5 p.m.; eat dinner with husband, Dustin; bathe Tristan and put him to bed by 8 p.m.; study until 11 p.m.; with any remaining energy, complete contracted bookkeeping duties for a Bay Area law firm until 1 a.m.; hit the hay.

Whew. And we thought we were slammed. How does one juggle so many responsibilities?

As any other mom—student, working or otherwise will tell you—life balance is key to maintaining sanity.

Driver said she’s quit trying to make her life picture perfect.

So what if there’s still laundry in the hamper and toys on the floor? Rather than staying up late doing chores the night before a recent trip to Seattle, Driver said she instead threw a few perishables in the freezer and called it good.

She was rewarded with more energy and time with her family.

“I used to feel like I had a jammed schedule with working and motherhood. Now that I've added school to that mix, some things have to give way,” Driver said. “Perfectionism is one of them. I look at it like an exercise in Zen.”

Driver’s Buddha nature has also been rewarded in the classroom.

Last term marked Driver’s first time back in a college classroom in 20 years, but that didn’t prevent her from pulling down a 4.0. And the student mom is keeping the momentum this term and has, thus far, scored all As.

“It’s a lot easier when you’re older and you have experience,” said Driver. “Things make more sense now.”

It’s not all roses, however.

Driver said that she has to make dates with her husband, a freelance writer, or she won’t see enough of him. Ditto for her son, who sometimes offers the following: “I miss you all the time.”

Heartbreaking. The accounting whiz says she’s also had to let her bookkeeping duties take a backseat.

But, the capable mother soldiers on and usually with family in tow.

Each Tuesday, since she doesn’t have class, Driver has a leisurely breakfast with Tristan then takes him to the library and to swim class. After grabbing a taco, they’ll run errands and take their dog, Patrick, to the dog park.

“That helps a lot. It's grounding and feels like a break. It's a day for us to be together like we used to be all the time,” said Driver a former telecommuter.

Some things, like making time for exercise, have fallen off the schedule, too, said Driver. She tries to make up for it by regularly preparing healthy, often vegan or vegetarian home-cooked meals and eating with her family.

Another must in Driver’s hectic life is—surprise!—her iPhone. Driver said the calendar and various apps on her smartphone keep her on track and ahead of schedule.

“You’ve got to be on top of scheduling, or else something will come up,” Driver said.

In fact, Driver does such a good job of bringing balance to her frantic life that one of her single friends refers to Driver’s world as the “idyllic life.”

Aside from the calendars, iPhone and general positive attitude, we’re still not quite sure how Driver does it all, but she does.

And we know that there are plenty of other moms out there doing the same and more.


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