Ways of Being
The ways of being a student in full-time higher education, and a female partner and mother, are socially constructed. The use of strategy to describe the ways that the mature women students had education and family coexisting in their lives places a focus upon the women themselves as successfully or unsuccessfully managing the two. Women could thus be located at various points along the overall continuum. At the time of their last interviews, sixteen women could be grouped towards the connecting end of the continuum, nine around the middle, and six towards the separating end of the continuum. The bottom strand indicates identity within connection and separation, ranging from women viewing themselves as simultaneously both students and mother/partners to envisaging themselves almost as different people in different places. Friendships between women, especially as mothers, are fully part of neither the private or public spheres.