Sunday, June 04, 2006

No Cap, a Gown and Lobster Head

Two years of hell. Two years of sacrifice. Two years of part-time income to support a family of five and a dog. Two years of deadlines, two years of essays, of exams, of tutoring, of volunteer teaching, of long nights, of red tape, of commuting, of stress, of endless nights of worrying about how we would make it work. Two years of missing Daddy. Two years of Daddy having to go days in a row without seeing even the awake faces of his boys because he's been teaching all day and being a student all night with lots of driving in between.

Two years ago when Jonathan made the decision to go to teacher's college and quit his good-paying, secure job at the private school, I was hesitant. We knew he would be taking a HUGE risk. Walking away from a salary that he could never match in the public school system at a time when we were already struggling to make ends meet. Paying tuition fees and going into a programme where we knew he would have to put in tons of unpaid teaching hours. At the time, life with 3 boys under the age 3 was difficult to say the least. Knowing Jonathan would rarely be home to help was a terrifying thought to me. Ultimately, we knew (Jonathan knew) that it was the only option if he was to make teaching his lifetime career.

To his credit, Jonathan did it with a brave face. I was the one who did all the bitching about it. I stressed and worried about how we could make it work while Jonathan just plowed forward and took it day by day. He found a way to make it work. It was made easier for him when he was lucky enough to make some good friends along the way; Johnny, Tim, Lorenzo, Minnie, Lambert, Natalie, Marge... Friends that would happen to see him through one of the hardest times in our life.

One year into the programme at Trent and we learned that our boys had autism. When we tried to assess how we were going to get through the months to come, all we could see was the need for thousands of dollars and countless hours of time that needed to be devoted to the boys. It was a time where we both knew, yet again, that a 'grown-up' decision had to be made to decide if he should continue on or if we should just throw it to the gods and pray that it would somehow work itself out.

This past Friday, as Jonathan walked across the stage to accept his degree, I honestly had to swallow back the tears. Because that little piece of paper had come from so much hard work and sacrifice. I have never felt so proud of Jonathan as I did that morning. It could have been so much easier to give up a year ago and to have taken on a job somewhere that would have guaranteed us the income we so desperately needed. But Jonathan knew it would have only been a bandaid solution to our problems. Despite my begging for him to quit, my selfish whining when I tried to guilt him into quitting so he could spend more time at home, he stuck it out. Now he can proudly say that he has more than earned the title of teacher.

Once again, I find myself looking back over the past couple of years and remembering the moments where we were soooo desperate and fearful of our future. Not knowing how we could pay the bills or whether or not we could survive the stress of getting through another day. We hung on through sheer will and faith that it would work itself out and it did.

Jake and I yelled "Yaaaaaay Daddy!!" when he accepted his degree. He looked so sharp with his gown and his lobster-purple head. Jonathan thought that he would get a cap to wear to protect his glaring scalp from the UV rays, but no such luck. We all sweltered that day. The Brothers must have somehow known how important the day was, because I could not be more proud of how they behaved through those three long hours of ceremony without a single meltdown. Jake, Owen and Will were all on their best behaviour. With Diane, Grandma, Granny and Grandad's help, the morning was a smooth one. I am so happy that we were all able to be there for it.

We are so proud of Daddy.

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