We did it. Grad school. It’s over. I have no idea what Mr. Okayest’s degree is in, and I’m not sure I even care. I’m proud of him, but more importantly, I’m proud of us.
Mr. Okayest is the one who gets the degree, but he says it belongs to both of us. For every credit hour he spent in class, I spent one here with three babies. For every exam, paper, and project, I handled the children on my own. Weekends were never restful. We both earned this degree.
We can’t believe it’s over. We’re still in shock, waiting for the next assignment to drown us again. Four years of hell is OVER!
We were childless for the first eight years of our marriage. We also did not go to grad school during the first eight years of our marriage. When our first son came along in 2010, my husband decided that would be a great time to start grad school. Seriously, honey? You couldn’t have done that a little earlier?
Two years later, when I ended up in a high-risk twin pregnancy and bedrest, I said, “Surely, honey, you will take some time off school now?” Nope. He kept it up. He managed to take care of me, my son, the house, the cooking, the cleaning, and his homework. I thought he was crazy, but he got an “A” that semester.
When the twins were born in 2012, and I almost died, and spent a month learning how to, you know, live again, and we never slept, I said, “Surely, honey, you can take some time off school now?” Nope. He kept trucking. That was the hardest course of all, too, and it happened to fall during the hardest months of our lives. He got an “A” that semester, too, by some miracle. (And by “some miracle”, I am referring to our moms and aunts and grandmas and cousins and church sisters who helped care for me and my family!)
During the early days of the twins’ life, I simply could not care for them on my own. Newborns and a very needy two-year-old cannot wait for anything. Every need is immediate, and my battered body could not keep up with their needs.
I remember distinctly the first time my husband went back to class after my recovery. It was maybe the third week after the birth. My health was shaky, at best. I had not been apart from him for even one minute during the past month. He helped me go to the bathroom. He showered me. I hadn’t been able to walk or stand without his assistance for some time. I had not been away from him at all. My body and my heart depended on him.
He asked my aunt to come over just while he went to class. He hadn’t even gone back to work yet, but he headed to class at 5PM that day. My aunt and I were sitting on the couch, and he was tying his shoes, but he was watching my face. Tears were rolling down my cheeks. I was terrified. I trusted my aunt to care for me and my three babies under three years old, but I was terrified to be away from my husband. He kissed me goodbye and he went to school. My aunt asked what was wrong. I couldn’t put it into words, but I think she understood.
Eventually, I got stronger. I hired a mother’s helper, an 11-year-old from church with lots of siblings, to help me after school. I remember us each feeding a baby a bottle on the couch.
Eventually, my oldest son got, well, older. He was able to (kind of) put on his own jammies. He was able to (kind of) wait his turn. However, he was simply not the same when Daddy was having a late class night. He usually didn’t see his father from Monday night until Wednesday night. That’s an eternity when you’re two or three years old! He wasn’t the same when his father had to do homework in the basement with the door shut. He wanted to be near his dad at all times. His tantrums were worse on school days and homework days.
Eventually the babies, too, became more independent. Daddy kept going to school, and they outgrew those bottles. They grew into toddlers who could just be put into their cribs while awake. Each one could wait a little bit when his brother needed me.
On the days that I was alone from 5AM to 9PM, my sweet in-laws would come every week. For years, they have been relieving me. I have used their visits to get my shower, or collapse in a heap of a nap, or to take my oldest son on a date, or to do the weekly shopping. I have used their visits to sneak in six months of swim lessons for my son while the babies napped at home with the grandparents. I have used their visits to schedule a multitude of doctor appointments for both me and my son. They gave me time off from the twins during the day, so that I could survive until 9PM when my husband came home. And, sometimes, when I was sick or my husband was out of town, they would even stay through bedtime. They say that it isn’t a selfless act; they say that they just love the time with the grandchildren! I still say it’s a selfless act, because this circus isn’t easy.
There were some really bad times. There were many times that I cried with exhaustion after all the kids were in bed. There were times that I didn’t want to wake up on his school days, because I knew what the next 16 hours would hold. There were times that one or two or all three were sick and I cared for them alone. There was vomit, diarrhea, countless nose wipings… There was even one time that I was vomiting while making them their dinner and while putting them to bed. (The kids were, of course, recovered from their stomach bug by the time they had given it to me.)
Grad school gave me a new respect for single parents. I have no idea how they do it. I almost felt incapable of handling my own life.
At dinner last week, while I fed the children while their Daddy was in his last class, I excitedly said to the children, “Guess what?! Daddy isn’t going to go to school any more! He will always be home for dinner and bedtime now!” All three just stared at me blankly while chewing their meatballs. This four-year-old and those two two-year-olds will probably have no memory of all the hard work and tears that was grad school. Their whole lives were this way, but they won’t remember a thing. (Oh, and the next night, he had to work late and missed dinner.)
It’s really over. I can’t believe it. Now we can get on to other things, like house repair. Oh my goodness, I’m still never going to see my husband, am I?