Full-Time Dad, Full-Time Employee, and Full-Time Student
This is the story of my recent struggle and triumph of trying to balance working full-time, working on my Masters full-time, all while having an infant at home waiting for me at the end of the day when I seemingly had no energy left to do anything. It was by far the hardest thing that I ever accomplished. I could not have done any of it without the support of my loving wife cheering me on the whole way.
Too Much on My Plate
When my son was born, I was working full-time while finishing my Masters part-time. My wife is a teacher and her employer gave her the rest of the year off. I had three more classes left to go to graduate. Originally, I thought that I was going to have more than enough on my plate. Then I made the risky decision of enrolling for the Spring semester full-time to finish my degree. I wanted to finish my degree before my wife went back to work. Our family also needed more of an income as my current job was not paying enough for the three of us to live off of. On any given day it was either the best decision of my life, or the worst decision of my life. On the one hand, I was going to be done with school quick and hopefully have more job prospects. On the other hand, I was constantly completely exhausted.
My Family was my Motivation
Many of my extended family members thought that I was crazy to take so much on all at once. How could I possibly be a good father all while working full-time and going to school full-time? What actually happened is that my little family became my biggest motivating factor for success. I would come home from work and my night class several times per week, and I would see them and I knew that I could not fail. For the first time in my life, I knew that other people depended on me for their very survival. Some people might have cracked under the pressure, and I have heard many stories of new fathers just taking off. These stories are a terrible tragedy, and I can understand that kind of pressure. That could have been me at any point. Instead, I used the pressure as motivation. I was able to manage things with successful time management. Hour lunch break? That means I can read a Chapter for school everyday. Two days off on the weekend? I can use at least one to write this paper. Time after work and before class? That can be used to do those small assignments that I have been trying to get done. It was not easy, and I was often over-tired. However, when I heard my wife cheering for me at my graduation and looked up and saw her standing there with my son, I knew that the sacrifice was well worth it.
I think that the biggest thing that my semester of pain did for me was build character. I never had time to spend on myself. All of my classmates were either in school full-time and not working, or working full-time, and attending school part-time. On top of that, very few of my classmates had families. When my classmates were taking a weekend in New York, or a Spring break trip, I was trying to get some work done so that I had time at the end of the day to spend with my family. My semester of pain taught me how to manage multiple priorities all at once which had helped me in my career, and as a father and husband. It taught me how to put others first, when I all want is time to myself. Most importantly, my semester of pain taught me how much my wife loves me. She was extremely supportive of the whole idea and I could not have done it without her help. I am eternally grateful for what she did for me. When I graduated, it was the first time in my life that I felt that I had just accomplished something big. The feeling that I had was truly worth all of the pain and suffering.
Landing that Job
After graduation, I spent another two months at my low paying job. After that, I used my gained skills from my job and acquired knowledge and new degree to land a good job worthy of supporting my family. It was a huge payoff that I would never have had without the sacrifice that my wife and I put in. If I had not done that semester of pain, my family would probably not currently have a roof over our heads. Instead, we just moved into a bigger place where our bigger family can fit. It is in a safe neighborhood. If you are reading this, perhaps you don’t have a family but are considering going to school while working full-time. Perhaps you have just had the joy of discovering that you are a parent, but don’t know whether or not you can juggle multiple priorities. Just know that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.
Here are the major takeaways from this article that I hope that you got:
1.) Working hard does not have to destroy your family
2.) Having a family does not have to ruin your career or otherwise put plans on hold
3.) If you work hard, it will pay off
4.) Don’t let people tell you that you cannot do something when you know you can
5.) Above all, if you have a family, allow them to inspire you to do great things.