After a long hiatus from school, I’ve decided to take a course at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Education. My intent is to test my ability to obtain a Certificate in Public Relations as a precursor to applying into a full-on graduate degree program. My thinking is that if I can’t manage a continuing education course, there’s no way I can fit in a graduate degree, children and full-time work!
If I think about it for more than a second, I quickly realize how insane it all seems, i.e. trying to do it all with four and six-year olds at home?! What am I thinking? Does something have to give, will they miss out, and will I miss out by not spending as much time with them?
As I rationalize my choices, I draw upon my own experiences growing up. My father was a bona fide workaholic. He’s a carpenter by trade, and although he retired with an office job managing building inspections at a Montreal university more than 20 years ago, he continues to seek out carpentry work at 84! A few years ago he insisted on putting up crown molding at our home. As he put it, he wanted us to have a memory of his work at our home. When I asked him why he wouldn’t want to just relax, his response was quite simple, “if you love what you do, it’s not work.”
So as my dad inspired me to seek and harness a lifelong journey to grow and learn, I thought why not give graduate school a go! As I witnessed and admired my dad’s interest in learning, I hope that my children may be equally inspired by my actions. Despite being up very early and often working many hours, there were set times of the day may dad was always there. Every morning, he made it a point to say goodbye to us, even if it meant waking us up. He always came back home for dinner to have a meal with the whole family. Consequently, my very busy dad always felt present even though he’d often come back home late at night after dinner. Several weekends and weeknights every month, he’d bring us along to be a part of his unique hobbies, such as mushroom picking.
Admittedly having a demanding career is at times not easy for me and piling on university courses doesn’t help. However, I have to believe, that the satisfaction I am feeling for breaking ground with this first course and learning something new has to have an osmosis effect on my kids as my dad did on me. My kids seem to get a kick out of it when I tell them every Wednesday night, “mom still goes to school,” kind of just like them. My support system, though, is what really makes it all work. Whatever your support system may be: spouse, nanny, siblings, or friends, work colleagues, it’s without a doubt, critical to your sanity and success.
By the way, in case you were wondering what my picture has to do with this post, here’s the background story. I had quite a bit of work to do one night, so to get my daughter to hang out with me while I did my work at the same time; I described what the office can be like to her. That is, folks often work side by side on assignments in the same room. I gave her a few assignments to do while I got to complete mine. Surprisingly it worked, so I had to snap a picture of it.
Photo: Liliana Polcari