I had a good will to write an extra blog entry before I leave for my annual trip to Prague but my honourable intentions were met with a nasty Norovirus that decimated the whole family in turns a week before my journey. It is a prime example of many challenges a mature student with children might have to face during their course.
At this point, I should cleverly weave in the infamously famous quotation by Cyril Connolly about the pram in the hallway, but I am not going to. Firstly, he never had female authors, let alone mature students of the “fairer”sex, in mind; he actually meant that the breadwinner of the family (i.e. the man) would be distracted by having to provide for the offsprings, not desperately learning how to change nappies, cleaning the house or producing a hearty, nutritious meal for his wife.
My personal experience? Since having children, I have never been more creative or more focused. I have written and published three books, translated two, written a large number of articles both in English and Czech, organised an exhibition, all that while both my boys don’t notice I am actually working. They are clean, well-fed and happy. I credit these newly acquired superplanning and superorganising skills, I have been training daily in the battlefield of parenting, with making me quietly confident that despite my more advanced years, I might actually be able to do all right during my degree. I might have to get up at three a.m., to complete my assignments but that is what I do anyway to work creatively.
There are anxious thoughts going through my head, which is bad because I should relax and enjoy my stay with the family in one of the most beautiful European cities. There is a family wedding coming in a week and later, a book launch of my latest endeavour: a poetry anthology of twenty-one Czech female poets. I am the editor and have had to work extra hard from abroad, convincing everyone that I am up to the job. I had a publisher dropping us in the process; consequently I had to find an alternative publisher. There were also two authors quarreling bitterly for a fairly minute reason, a dispute I had to smooth at the distance of 1,500 miles, tired of the very idea that two middle-aged poets had their boxing gloves out. I dealt with them like I deal with my two toddlers, so the whole three-year project would not fall apart in the last minute.
The beautiful world of arts is full of beautiful people, right? The world class athletics training of parenthood comes in handy more often than one thinks in real life, especially baring in mind that my older son is autistic, did not utter a word until he was four and has his many social challenges (luckily, he is highly intelligent and described as someone who will eventually be “highly functional”). Health care professionals assure me that we, as his parents, have it ten times harder than other parents but I don’t see it that way. Trust me when I say that dealing with an autistic child is easier than trying to set on a diplomatic mission to sort out two emotional artists, whose ego and vanity have been hurt.
From Prague, with love.
Natalie is originally from Prague, Czech Republic. However, she has lived in the UK for a while with her British husband and two young sons. In her native country, she is a published author under the pen-name Natalie Nera. She starts a part-time Master's degree in Creative Writing this autumn at the University of Newcastle. You can find more information on Natalie, here.
Note: 'Student Blog' pieces highlight the student perspective on issues relating to ProtectED. Consequently, this article reflects the views of the author and not ProtectED.