A Group of Mothers
I am fortunate to have found a group of other women faculty members who like to gather on a regular basis. As I join them for lunch weekly, I am reminded of the concept from Algebra of a “group”, in which members individually and collectively share certain properties.
I am fortunate to have found a group of other women faculty members who like to gather on a regular basis. As I join them for lunch weekly, I am reminded of the concept from Algebra of a “group”, in which members individually and collectively share certain properties. In our case, we are not numbers, but women, all of whom are mothers. In addition, all of us are middle age, although I realize that to call myself “middle age” assumes that I plan on living to be quite old. And, most importantly, all of us have children. While not exactly the mathematical definition of “group”, we share enough that the concept could be loosely applied to our gatherings.
The time together is both fun and refreshing. We spend the time sharing war stories from the trenches of motherhood; where to find nice but inexpensive first communion or prom dresses, what gifts to get teachers as the year ends, and what are appropriate limits for children of different ages. I truly don’t know what I would do without the support of these fellow mothers who are also professors. I rely on one of the mothers for information on navigating the educational world, and I found myself helping another mother help her own daughter plow through an honors geometry class, and was surprised at how difficult the questions assigned were. When one mother’s child was on the front lines in Chardon a few weeks ago, and played a role saving a fellow student’s life, we were there to support and encourage her as she walked a walk that none of us ever want to travel. I was brought to tears when she brought back pictures and stories of the letters and posters sent to that school from all over the world, including one banner from the people who could understand best- Columbine High School. This past week, a story became the topic of discussion that troubled me deeply.
One of the women has a friend with a niece who was having difficulty navigating the bureaucracy of her own college. This woman’s friend is almost a mother to this young woman, whose own mother died when she was very young. However, the niece has grown up with a stepmother, as well as her father and a brother. In the past year, she found herself in a major disagreement with her stepmother over one of those things that mothers and daughters tend to find themselves fighting over. Rather than make-up and hug as might be expected, her stepmother took the issue to the extreme. As the young woman made plans to return to college next year, the stepmother decided not to release any of her financial information that is needed by the college for the young woman to receive the financial aid she was awarded when she applied. Without this information, it would have been impossible for her to continue at the school. Even worse, without this information, she is told that she is not able to take out government loans to pay for the difference between what she could pay herself and what the school charges. She faced having to leave college for a year while she becomes emancipated from her father and her stepmother. The story was tragic, made all the more horrible by the fact that this young woman has worked hard all her life to get into this excellent college, and now loves it there. I was stunned to hear the story, and at the inability for the school to process her financial aid without the information from her stepmother. I was struck by the fact that she was not asking for any money from her stepmother, only for information to be shared with the office of financial aid. I wondered what could be done to help this young woman.
Luckily, she has made contact with one of the vice presidents at her college, who tried to find a solution to her problem. It sounds like he is a very compassionate person who truly wanted her to stay at the school. I have to believe that he could have found a way help her access the financial aid she was awarded. However, before he could find a solution, her stepmother changed her mind and decided to release the needed information. It seems the young woman will be staying at that college, after all.
This story worked out well, but I have to wonder if this is something that happens often, and if so, what the usual approach is. Have any of my readers, especially those in Financial Aid, seen this situation before, and if so, what was done to help the student stay in college?
Read more by
Opinions on Inside Higher Ed
Inside Higher Ed’s Blog U
What Others Are Reading