Seven and a half years ago, before the NDIS and before Dan had finished high school, I bit the bullet and entered back into the world of study. At the time I was working in education, but with Dan approaching the end of formal schooling I could see the writing on the wall. As much as I had enjoyed my career in teaching, I could see that there was no way I could keep teaching and care for Dan at the same time. At that time we had no idea about the opportunities that the NDIS would provide for Dan. Once he finished school, what was he going to do? So I started a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English Literature and History. I didn’t quite know where it might lead, but I hoped it would be something new, something more flexible, and something a lot less stressful than teaching.
On Friday I did my last history exam. After seven and half years, it is finished. The light at the end of the tunnel has arrived. I’m not really sure that it has sunk in yet. Perhaps it won’t really hit me until mid July comes around and Bec will start semester two and I’ll go: Oh that’s right, I’m finished. I haven’t felt any particular kind of high yet. Perhaps that will come when I get the official conferral of the degree from USQ. After everything that has been going on in the world and in our lives over the last year and a half I’m just relieved to have finally finished.
It’s been an interesting journey studying English Literature and History. Over the years I have raced through World History, as we covered from the beginning of time to 1500 CE in about 12 weeks and then spent a further 12 weeks on the next 400 years. I’ve studied Australian history, and the most violent century of all time, the Twentieth. And this semester I finished up with How to be an Historian 101. It wasn’t actually called that but it was about how the study of history has changed over time, the importance of recognising our own personal biases and perspectives, and the dangers that come from the abuse of history – that is, using it for the wrong reasons.
Studying English Literature has been a great excuse for buying and reading books and inspired me to read (and buy, beg or borrow) even more. We have read Australian stories and gothic stories. I’ve studied stories written for children and those that have been adapted to the big screen. The book is still better, by the way. I’ve learned about the Literary Canon, Speculative Fiction and to appreciate Virginia Woolf. And I’ve learned to dig deep, read slowly and closely, and understand the historical and cultural context of a text.
So what next?
Well so far I have cleaned out the fridge, the freezer and the pantry, and tomorrow I am going to start on the kitchen cupboards. After neglecting that thing called housework, I am embarking on a thorough Winter Cleaning. I also plan to get back out in the garden. We have had quite a bit of rain and the weeds will be getting out of hand. There is also a long list of books I’m hoping to have time to read, as well as get back into writing some blog posts again.
Basically, I’m having a break for a while. I figure I deserve one. And we are also in the middle of transitioning Dan into independent living, which is a very exciting prospect. At the present, he is spending Monday to Friday at the new unit he is sharing with his flatmate, Geoff, and weekends at home. On Monday I have a meeting with NDIS to secure the next round of funding that will allow him to live there full time. Round the clock support is very expensive. You know, if they paid parents the amount of money it costs for round the clock care, we’d all be millionaires by now.
So, we shall see what the future brings. There’s already been some suggestions about doing post grad. Still thinking about that one!
Until next time…