It is exam time in our household, which means stress levels are high. Things are due and the end of another year is in sight.
A little over two years ago my husband, Duncan, came home from work, sick of his customer service job and all that it entailed, and told me he wanted to go back to uni. In his typical laid back fashion he told me casually over dinner one night, he was signing up for four years of study, like it was no big deal.
We had just bought our first home and were discussing starting a family so I was caught completely off guard. I knew Duncan the uni student, I met Duncan as a uni student. He was completely unfocused and uncommitted to his course, the typical story of a boy who chose a course for his enter score rather than for himself, so as you can imagine I was apprehensive to sign up to that life again. When we first met, he dreamt of joining the MFB (Metropolitan Fire Brigade) and was about to embark on the rigorous recruitment process. We had heard that joining the fireys was slow, but we did not realise just how slow. It took a long three years to get to the final interview. As a matter of fact, we left for our honeymoon not having heard from the MFB for six months. And in what came to be true fireys form, when we arrived in Rome, Duncan had an email waiting, saying his final interview was in two weeks. Long story short, he is still on the waiting list for his interview and, needless to say, I do not think he will be accepting recruitment any time soon.
I should not have been surprised when Duncan told me he wanted to go back to study. Duncan is by far one of the smartest people I know, there is no doubt in my mind that he would’ve been someone I was completely jealous of if I had known him in high school. He’s one of those ones who looks at something once and knows it, maybe twice if the subject matter is a bit tricky. So his days working in a sportswear store were always going to be short lived.
Now, to some people, deciding to go back to uni when you are also thinking of starting of a family seems crazy (one lady even went as far as asking me if the pregnancy was unintentional). Some days, even to me, this decision seems crazy. Why would anyone willingly sign up for four years of this? Four long years of working in every spare moment and earning minimal wage, four years of no full weekends together, four years of relying on the generosity of others, four years of a stagnant, never increasing savings account. I have a financial meltdown quarterly, some days it feels like we are just keeping our head above water. It is scary and stressful and I am constantly asking myself why we are doing this. When we should be establishing a foundation for our family, why would we sign ourselves up for the life of a uni student all over again? Then I remember, it is only four years, and more importantly, it makes Duncan happy. When we never used to have a dream for our future careers, now we are working towards something together and it is exciting, which leads me to my next realisation, which is that Duncan studying actually is establishing a foundation for our family.
Duncan the uni student 3.0 (that’s third uni attempt), has proven to me that sometimes you do need to try things a couple of times before you get it right. Duncan has shown that he is willing to work hard for his family. He has managed to balance full time study, two, sometimes more jobs, sport and a family life. And although some days, even some weeks, it seems like the family portion of his life is on the back burner I know Leo is lucky. Leo has a dad who knows how important it is to work hard for his family. He has a dad who appreciates every minute he gets with him because some days he doesn’t have time for many minutes. Leo has a dad who will love and fill every childhood weekend because he did not have a weekend for so many years.
So we tough it out and live by Duncan’s relaxed mantra of ‘It’ll be right’ for four more semesters. We will find ways to manage and we will have more children while Duncan continues to study. I know there are many more people out there doing it a whole lot tougher than us, we have a great life and I am by no means crying poor. The truth of the matter is, although daunting, this was the best time for Duncan to return to study. He can come home between classes and manage his timetable so there is the all important ‘boys time’ while I work. And yes, he may miss out on weekends and some bedtimes now, but Leo doesn’t know that and after all, a normal Monday-Friday, 9-5 life is only two short years away.