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Attending upon life
I emailed my professor today and told him I would not be in for class. There was a family thing going on and I wouldn’t be able to attend. He acknowledged my email and added that there were attendance points and I am not attending class on a regular basis.
This had me floundering. I had missed previous classes due to my family and I knew my attendance wasn’t where it should be. I drive myself hard in school. This particular class, we can work ahead. So I’ve turned in all 7 assignments. I did do the two quizzes that were available. I did extra credit work. This next week is my spring break but I’m going to be interviewing someone so I can write out another assignment for this class and work on the powerpoint presentation. I don’t mess around.
And I do excellent work. My grades on my quizzes thus far have been A’s as has my assignments. I take the time and read the instructions and do my best work. I always am on my A game.
But see, that’s the coursework side of things. That’s never been the issue, either in school or in a job situation. It’s always always been about how often I can be present.
As a person raising sons who live with mental illness and as a person living with mental illness, myself, there are times when everything is too much. My boys needed to stay home and put themselves together. Or I needed to or we all did and we’d watch movies, cuddle, and just by being together remind ourselves that it’s OK, we’re OK, and we’ll get through this rough time, too.
As a single parent for a number of years, I’d been penalized on my job for being absent. This usually came up around annual review time when my work itself was exemplary. My time spent at work was well worth the money paid to me…but there was just that little issue of…attendance. Which meant that any pay raise I received would be very little. Because, you know, I had to be penalized.
There’s been talk recently in academia, namely graduate level, of how mental illness is affecting students and how the culture doesn’t allow for any compassion or empathy. It doesn’t make me really eager to earn a Master’s or Doctorate’s, to be frank.
We should also talk about what we as undergraduates face. There are a number of professors who put points on attendance. Regardless if you do ‘A’ quality work, you’re going to get penalized if you aren’t in class. And, yes, I acknowledged there are other students who have things going on in their lives yet are in class.
But that’s not me and that’s not my situation. And I’m not going to feel ashamed for putting my sons’ health and stability first. That isn’t worth an ‘A’ for anything, thanks.
It shouldn’t have to be like that, though. I shouldn’t have to have a panic attack, thinking of all these points being deducted and I’m ending up barely passing because I couldn’t be in class. If my professors are aware of the life circumstances where me being in class just isn’t a good thing, then that should be taken into consideration. There are situations beyond my control and the damage control I do means I have to be present for my sons. Period.
I detailed this all in an email to my professor who was very kind and considerate and said he understood where I was coming from. Still. I am still wanting to throw up and I still have the shakes and I feel as though my very Good Grade is slipping out of my fingers. I want to burst into tears and bawl like a baby.
I know Disabilities offers some help for people living with mental illness. I’ll have to stop by and talk to them and see if they can help with this. No one should worry about their grade due to attendance when they’re doing everything else right. And when their family’s well being is at stake.
I know I’m not the only one who makes these hard choices. It may be someone else who’s working full time. It may be another person earning their degree as well.
It’s stressful, it’s trigger inducing (I’m barely keeping down a panic attack through sheer willpower alone and the fact my son doesn’t need to have to cope with this on top of everything else, too), it only adds to the mental strain.
I’m not sure what’ll happen with my grade when all is said and done. I am going to do my best to be there for the rest of the classes. I will continue to put in ‘A’ work. And damn it to hell, I’m going to keep putting my family first. That will never change and I won’t ever regret that decision. It’ll come time and again and I’ll choose my sons time and again.
I just wish these things were taken into account when they happen. And people like me aren’t penalized for it.