Adventures in Grad School – Pandemic Style

I honestly do not know how I did it, but somehow I managed to get through two semesters of graduate school in the year of COVID. Not only did I go through a drastic change in my life by going back to school  after 25 years, but I did it with our family at home ALL of the time. 

Along with my children, my classes have been online this school year… (solidarity, kids…). And while I did miss out on human interaction with my fellow students and teachers, there were some advantages (like having a child deliver a hot dinner during class in my sweats). 

I could tell you all of the things that I have learned (SO MUCH), how amazing my classmates are and the close friendships I have made. I could tell you that I am absolutely in love with this profession and I am SO excited about my next steps. Instead, I’ll tell you about one of my last classes of the year, because it epitomizes my experience of online learning in one evening. 

I know I make this look fun

I was due to give a final presentation for my sex and couples class. It was a presentation that I was prepared for, but one that I was nervous making. No matter how much experience I have had talking to the class online, I’m still a little “off” in making sure that I am communicating in a way that is understood. Making sure my camera is on, that I’m unmuted when I speak, and that I’m not doing something weird with my hands is something I’ve had to work on. Take into consideration that I was going to be going into great detail about sex, well, it was a bit outside of a casual conversation I have with friends.

This turned out to be the least of my worries.

After waiting anxiously for almost an hour for my turn, the teacher called my name and I unmuted. I was about two sentences into my introduction when I heard a noise next to me.

There was my daughter in her pjs standing there (off camera), half asleep. I did a quick evaluation in my head: it was an hour past her bedtime, my husband had left to run to the store, my eleven year old was in bed, my thirteen year old was at swim practice, my eighteen year old was somewhere in the house (I THOUGHT) but I wasn’t sure. I was in the basement, my daughter’s bedroom was two floors up. I felt relief that she didn’t wander out of the house (because she’s been known to do that). Six people live in this house and yet no one could help me at that moment!

In my best attempt at professionalism I paused my presentation, “I apologize, it seems that my daughter has gotten out of bed. My husband is not home. I will do my best to continue with her here with me.” And so, at the end of my second semester of graduate school, I talked about ways to help a couple with troubles in the bedroom with my daughter on my lap. 

As I utilized a vocabulary that is an essential part of my future profession, but would make some blush, my daughter waved at my classmates, pushed her face right up to the camera to show people her tongue, and I think may have petted my hair (I’m not sure, it’s all a blur). One of my classmates had a puppy with her, she proceeded to say, “Puppy, puppy, puppy, puppy.” 

Playing with my phone while I waited to be rescued after I was done.

Most seven year olds could get sent back upstairs without incident. I knew I couldn’t do that with her. Send her out of my room and I wasn’t sure where she’d go next (or WHAT she’d do). This last year has been incredibly difficult for us because it has just been our family that has taken care of her and kept her safe. Day in and day out, night after night, (she sleeps in our bedroom with us), she is under constant supervision. Someone has to have an eye on her even if I have to run to the bathroom or attempt to do some homework. If you follow me on Instagram you will see lots of pictures of her because we are joined at the hip. She is our constant adorable companion. So, it is fitting with all of this togetherness that she’d be accompanying me while I made a final presentation.

 

As soon as I was done talking, I muted myself and texted my son to retrieve her.

When he arrived he looked at her on my lap, cringed at the content of conversation in my class (I had warned him) and asked, “How long has she been here?”

My answer: “Long enough.”

Yep, I definitely got an A.

 

Julie Jensen is a mom of five boys and one girl. She is a runner, biker, yoga instructor and socializer. That about sums it up. Believe it or not, she really does enjoy the soccer, cross country, swim team, track, dance classes, basketball, and theater her kids are involved in as long as she has another mom (or dad) to talk to during these events. Julie is starting a new adventure going back to school to get her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy at Edgewood College. You can follow her on Instagram at @out_numbered_mama6

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