Having a sitter cancel at the last minute is every mom’s worst nightmare. So when single mother and student, Amanda Osbon, was forced to bring her toddler to class because of unreliable childcare, she wasn’t prepared for how her professor would respond.
Osbon told WKRN News that she was “embarrassed” and had to swallow her pride when she brought Xzavier, her almost 2-year-old, to class with her at Nashville’s Devry University on Monday. Soon, Xzavier started getting restless during the lecture. The tot crawled out of his mom’s lap and asked to be held by the professor. Professor Joel Bunkowske, described by Osbon as “amazing, patient, and kind,” gladly obliged.
Osbon was so moved that she snapped a photo and posted the story to the WKRN Facebook page on Tuesday night, where it immediately went viral and was even shared by Hillary Clinton on her Facebook page.
Inspired by this mom’s willingness to do whatever it takes to get to class, Facebook commenters shared their own stories, too. Meagan Byrd White said:
“Hey, as a full-time student and a mother of four, there are times that I have had to take one of my kids to class — especially my youngest. I give this professor props. Some of my professors actually keep snacks in their desks. If I take my older kids they are self-efficient and use the tablet and headphones.”
If you’re wondering what the big deal is about a professor holding a baby, Clinton hit the nail on the head in her Facebook post. She explained, “Juggling the demands of an education with parenting is a reality for over 25 percent of American college students — and it’s time that we create affordable childcare options for those seeking a degree.”
Making childcare more affordable in the U.S. is critical, but it’s also going to take some time. Supporting parents at school and at work is absolutely free, and it’s something any of us can do.
As Clinton pointed out, there are 4.8 million college students out there, or 26 percent of all undergrads, raising children. According to statistics from the Lumina Foundation, it is women who are the most likely to be balancing college and kids, often without the support of a partner as we saw in Osbon’s case. This doesn’t even take into account the millions of parents in the workforce who are struggling to balance work, family, and out-of-control childcare costs. The White House reports that more moms are taking on the role of breadwinner than ever, and working single moms are on the rise. As of 2014, 65 percent of single moms were in the workforce.
If this heartwarming viral story teaches us anything, it’s that the cookie-cutter American family doesn’t really exist anymore. Moms and dads are going back to school, and many of them are doing it on their own. Moms and dads are also working full time, and there’s no guarantee which parent will choose to stay home.
This professor’s response to a single mother wasn’t just kind — it was a game-changer. The only way we can set parents up for success at work and at school is when we are understanding of the kids that come with them. Osbon says she hopes this viral story will help change the conversation so that working parents and students can finally get the support they need.
She tells Babble, “To all the parents out there who run into issues while trying to achieve their goal, don’t give up. You never know who is actually on your side.”More On