Sometimes it is not until the storm passes that you look back and reflect on what you have come through and how far you have come.
Showing my boys a copy of my published PhD article
This last month I have met with a huge road block in my PhD journey. It felt like I was hit from all angles. I had set backs with my writing, sick children, escalating work pressure, financial strain and my husband was simultaneously experiencing huge work changes as well.
It is always darkest before the dawn right? The overwhelm I experienced forced us to stop, reassess and look at new options. We knew we had to make some hard choices and change some things around...rejig the puzzle so to speak. As human beings we resist change – try going for a day without chocolate (or whatever your vice is) and you will know exactly what I mean!
For me it is additionally hard to admit that I can’t do it all…and I had to face this. That despite my best efforts I actually was not going to get there on our current plan. My best in this case was not going to hit the mark. There are no points for participation in the world of academia and certainly no excuse card. Much as I would like to say “Doctoral thesis written while juggling two children under conditions of sleep deprivation” that’s just not going to fly.
I’m not superwoman, although I like to pretend so. I don’t have this all handled…quite frankly I have nothing ‘handled’. Sometimes I still wonder if I can actually get two children into bed, in one piece!
So my husband and I had a discussion. We cleared the kitchen table, laid out a massive piece of paper and brainstormed all our options. We made the hard choice for me to take extended leave from my teaching position. This meant managing the workload for my team and the financial implications as well. We also had to create what I have called “the mother of all plans” – almost every hour of the week accounted for – and it’s tight with little wriggle room…we know there will be breakdowns with that, nothing goes to plan with children…but we still need a plan to begin with.
When I actually shared I was struggling and needed help…you all came flooding in. It's hard sometimes to be ok with where you are at...I really know how this feels. Sometimes you need to change direction and, as I have learnt the hard way, sometimes there is great strength in asking for help.
Getting to this point has been darn tough…and I still have the beast itself to tackle. The statistics to grabble with, the fight to uplift my writing ability, the literature reading which I am so horribly behind with. But there is no backdoor anymore. There is no out, and I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. To focus on being grateful for this opportunity, for the massive support and team that is behind me. Against my default to do this on my own, what is there for me to do now is trust the process, trust those around me, and most of all to trust myself.
Here goes nothing….
Xxx The New Mum’s Nutritionist