Shortly after our second child was born, my husband started his Master’s program in Educational Leadership and to earn his Principal’s license. Going into it we knew it was going to be tough – he already has one full time job, a part time job and a family – but he felt confident that the timing was right. He has big dreams, and knew that this was the next step for him.
When Mike told me he was ready to start his Masters, I didn’t know what to think other than I trusted him. I was a little anxious to have him even more unavailable as I already felt stranded at home. Never the less, every fiber of my being trusts that when Mike says, “take this leap of faith with me,” there will be a safe place to land.
I wish that this post could be titled “Tips To Survive Your Husband’s Master Program,” but sadly folks, I really don’t have any tips. In fact, if YOU have tips please, I’m all ears.
We are in the last leg of our journey through Master’s land, and I think the toughest was saved for the end. We are both tired. We are both ready for it all to be over. And at the same time…we are wondering what will happen when it IS over.
For me, the hardest part of our life the past year and a half has simply been the in-availability of my partner. Oh how I wish we led a life where we finished our days around 5 and got to come home and be together. Not only is Mike almost completely unavailable at his daytime job, but then he leaves his teaching job at 3:30 PM and goes to work part time at a library several days a week. When he is home, he is working on school work.
We’ve all made sacrifices for this season of our life. For Mike, he is working crazy hours, spending time away from his family, and giving up almost all of his free time. He rarely gets to do things for himself.
For me, I’ve pretty much committed myself to keeping our family afloat mentally/emotionally/physically/spiritually during this time. I take care of everything not related to earning an income or a Master’s degree. I’m with my children. All the time. I do everything with them, and for them, all by myself. I spend my days with them, go grocery shopping with them and yes, even go to my personal doctor’s appointments with them. They come with me to yoga during the week (thank goodness for childcare). When I blog, work out, or try to socialize, I do it with one eye on my task and one eye (and usually a hand or two) on them. Alwaaaaaays.
On top of that, entering this season meant letting go of the old one. Old commitments had to be let go, as we knew we could only have so many balls in the air. Even toughest of all, we had to let go of good things that we loved that we could no longer maintain. Things that in order to continue, meant using up our precious free time and leaving no time to take care of each other. In the end, we knew that to get through this, the rare free moments had to be used wisely – spent taking care of our needs as a family.
As someone who thrives on cultivating relationships with friends, this was a huge blow. Especially as this season also required me to spend so much alone time with my toddlers. Days go by where the first words I speak to adults are as I’m standing in front of a class to teach yoga. Sometimes I’m surprised by the sound of my own voice, and struggle for the first few minutes to verbalize what I’m thinking. (And to form complete sentences that don’t end in “Now!” or “Just do it!” or “Did you flush???)
At the same time, I don’t want to fail to mention that while an old season had to be relinquished, part of this new season is me learning how to incorporate the old things I loved and did to take care of myself, into my new life. I’ve learned to get creative in how I cultivate relationships with my female friends. I plan play dates. I go to restaurants or cafes with my children to meet my friends and their children and let go of the old expectation of quietly sitting over a cup of coffee for hours. I invite friends (some with kids, some without) over to my house where my kids can run wild downstairs while I sit upstairs and talk away. I host more dinners in my home rather than go out, so my family can all be together while also being with friends.
In a way I’m a little more flexible mentally – I’ve learned to maintain things that are important to me in less than perfect settings – while having a less flexible schedule – because I’m always with my kids and have a busy husband, I can’t be involved in as much.
I know a lot of moms deal with this, not just me. What I’m going through doesn’t make me special or unique, but that also doesn’t diminish the hardness. And that, brings me to what has truly been the hardest part of having a spouse working two jobs and getting his Masters: I miss my partner.
It’s hard going through a whole week not really able to talk about us as individuals; about what we’ve been thinking and the things that have made us excited or gotten us down. Sometimes I just want to tell him something really cool I heard or read about, but other conversations take priority when you only have an hour to catch up before bedtime. A lot of our conversations revolve around the logistics of our lives. So for him, that’s work and school; for me, that’s the kids.
But there is a flip side to all this. We have been stretched, strained, and pushed to the brink, but we have not broken. In fact, I think we are a better couple now than we were before we went into this season. And here is why: Our days might seem segregated and we might be operating on our own most of the time, but we’ve never doubted that we are on the same path, headed for the same goal.
Through all of this, we’ve both known what it was that we were working towards. We bought in to the dream and the goal together and as individuals, and we’re committed 100%. We knew that our roles would be completely different, and seemingly even separate, but we are completely united in our vision.
Maybe even more importantly, though, we both knew that this season would have a clear expiration date. Even though that expiration date will bring new challenges, it will also bring about refreshing changes and opportunity for reevaluation on both our parts. Roles can be revamped, switched or dumped altogether. New goals can be formulated. And new paths forged. Together.
(Here are some fun photos of us making family time a priority over the past year and a half.)