D…is for distinctions


I’m not quite sure how it happened, but somehow I managed to pull out 4 Distinctions for my 4 Masters units this year.  I was stoked to get the news.

Making the decision to study was not an easy one.  Being a single dad working full-time and limited availability for lectures I knew it was going to be a big call. As I weighed up the pro’s and cons for taking on study; for the timing of it, for the recognition of likely challenges and competing demands on time, energy, and need to balance being there for my boys; I knew it to be something I both needed to do, but also was the right time.

My first assessment came in the form of n HD for an in class counselling session with another student. This served as a deep encouragement and confirmation that I’d made the right decision.

It hasn’t been an easy year.  There were times I had to leave my boys and cut into “our time” to attend compulsory lectures. I can stress how much I hate this dynamic.  I’ve always been a proactive hands-on dad. I have a great relationship with my boys and whilst not perfect (none of us are) I endeavour to be physically & emotionally present with them whenever they are with me.

There were times when I had to juggle writing essays whilst doing road trips for work. On one particular occasion I was away in Shepparton attending and participating in a conference.  After working all day and joining the conference dinner I returned to my hotel room. I’d laid out my notes, my laptop hummed music (I work so much better this way!) and was grappling with the topic of change, a topic I’m comfortable with, but by midnight found myself falling asleep still having over 1000 words to write.

The problem was that when the conference ended the next day I had a 2.5 hour drive directly to my subject class where I was meant to be handing my assignment in.  This was worth 50% of my overall assessment. Thankfully I’d learnt a technique some 20 yrs earlier to go to sleep and have at least one REM cycle.  Fighting sleep was pointless, my brain was groggy!

I set my alarm for 3:30AM and thankfully had coffee to kickstart and stimulate the brain and elevate the eyelids. Somehow I powered up and sentences streamed like a waterfall and paragraphs gelled together like mortar. Through the day I managed to do some final editing and got the essay printed off. It was a relief to arrive safely back at home exhausted after my morning madness and head-nodding lecture.

Thankfully most essays weren’t completed under such circumstances. Thankfully my boys are forgiving. Thankfully my priority has not been to complete all readings and get the best marks possible. My priority has been to maintain balance.  My priority has been to model to my boys that ongoing learning is important and that achieving goals is to be valued.

Yes the year has been challenging, but I am satisfied.  I am content.  I am proud of my efforts, my learnings, and my outcomes. To receive 4 Distinctions went beyond my hopes. I’d love to stop working and study full-time but that isn’t an option. And so, I continue to straddle the study/work/family/social life balance…and pray that my feet don’t slip!

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