Its just gone 2am and I had no intention of writing this story right now, as I was in the middle of writing another story for you, you know, a funny one, a nice one, an easy read. But I am sitting here, torn. And I have to write about it, because its all I can think about.
Oh my goodness, tears already….
When I left my ex-husband, nearly 2 ½ years ago, I left with our two children, a substantial share of debt and a few pieces of tired, donated furniture. It was over 3 weeks before Christmas. I wasn’t trying to be ironic; I just woke up one morning, turned to look at my husband of nearly 7 years, whose eyes were still shut in slumber, and knew it was the day.
I am not ready to speak yet of that marriage, and the divorce that followed, so allow me to tip toe around it during this one story please. I’ll write about that one day when its right.
When I moved myself and my two boys, who were 3 and 5 at the time, into our new home, I was on auto-pilot. I had cried with hopeless abandon into the lap of my mother for days and days on end over the Christmas we all shared together, and she stroked my hair without many words, as there could be no words for a mother to say to a daughter who had just broken free from years of a painful and devastating marriage, but after the tears and after the sorrow, there comes reality.
My reality was that I was now alone, with two boys, and no idea what to do next. I didn’t have a penny to my name, and everything in my small little unit was either borrowed or donated. My son had just begun at the private school up the road, my 14 year old sister had just flown from New Zealand to live with me in order to discover better opportunities In her life, and I was working part time.
What the hell am I going to do now?
The first decision I made was that no matter what it took, no matter what I had to sacrifice, give up, turn my back on, or sink my teeth into, that I would rise from this situation and that though my children would undoubtedly suffer untold heartbreak from watching their family shatter around their feet, that I would do anything I could to soften the blow and still try and give them the best possible platform to life that a suddenly single and broke mother could.
Choice number 1: I would keep my son in that private school, even though the school fees made me weep, it was a good school, he loved his friends, his teachers and it was a faith based education, which was the least I could do for him. It wasn’t his fault I broke up our family, he shouldn’t have to wear every consequence.
Choice number 2: I would apply for university entrance into the full time Bachelors Degree in Nursing.
I had decided not long before the divorce that I simply must become a nurse somehow as it suddenly made such sense to me. It had been creeping up on me for years, this desire to care for people, to be close to those who were suffering, who were weak, and to care for them. I also knew that if I had any chance of providing a decent future and being a good example to those kids, I had to get a decent education.
But a full time degree? While raising two young boys? While trying to love my sister who had troubles of her own?
The reality sets in again: Dreams of becoming a nurse, providing for a family, creating a happy ending, it comes at a cost…. did I have it in me? Not just for a few weeks, not just for months, but did I have it in me to persevere for years to make this happen?
Different tears followed: The tears I poured out over the acceptance letter that arrived in the mail saying that yes, I had been accepted into University, that yes, I may attempt to write a happier ending for my children… if I indeed, had it in me.
18 months on, I am half way through the degree. I have sat more exams than I can count, and passed them all. I have written thousands upon thousands of words in essays, assignments and presentations, and those too have been acceptable. I have completed 2 clinical placements and am currently preparing for my 3rd and 4th.
I love being a nurse. I was created to do this. I feel a genuine love for every patient I care for and even on the most exhausting days on placement, where I have seen things that shook me to my core, and witnessed people on the edge of their life, gasping for breath and clutching at their chest, being bought back to life by emergency procedures and state of the art equipment and skilled and experienced hands, I still drive home glad I chose do this, and knowing I am exactly where I am meant to be.
Where do I find the time to write essays, and study the medicines and terminology I can barely pronounce let alone describe? Its called ‘AM’.
1am, 2am, 3am…
A few months ago, there came a twist to this dream, and that was the realization that yes, I did was to be a nurse, but that I also wanted to be a midwife. I wanted to deliver babies and to inform mothers and to educate new families and I’m sure my heart stopped when I realized that in order to achieve this new addition to the dream, I would have to go back to university after graduation for a further 18 months and complete a Masters Degree.
Are you SERIOUS!? As much as I love this degree, and as much as I love all this learning, I am exhausted already…. How will I get through it if I have to then do a Masters Degree…
So I tried to forget all about it. It was too much, I just didn’t think I could dig that deep.
But a dream is like a worm. You can bury it as deep as you want in the soil of denial, you can try to ignore it, content it is hidden deep within the surface, but eventually it will wriggle and writhe its way to the top, and indeed one day it did, and there is was again, staring at me: My dream. To pursue it, or not?
So the decision was made, through the most clenched of teeth, that after that wondrous day of graduation in late 2013, that I would return to the classroom for more, and not stop until I had someone shake my hand and tell me I was now free to deliver all the babies I wanted, and love on all the new and expectant mothers I could…
But then this happened. This Writing.
For how many years the worm that also carried the secret of my dream to write remained buried, I don’t know. I can remember day-dreaming of writing stories since before I could even hold a pencil correctly without those triangle finger cushion things. And I never told anyone about it either. I was comfortable praying night after night that God would turn me into a mermaid, or with asking mum to make me a pixie outfit because of how I so enjoyed imagining I was one in real life, but the writing? No. I don’t know why, but I was, and still am, incredibly self conscious of this desire I have to write. Perhaps it is because it really does mean so, so much to me, and to one day achieve the ultimate: to publish a book, seems so out of reach that I may as well say I want to be an astronaut.
But one day I just began putting one word in front of the other, and I began to write. I would close my eyes and let all those words that have been bouncing around in my spirit pour out through my fingertips and with the deep sense of joy and satisfaction that came with the writing, also came a dilemma:
There are only 24 hours in a day, and its not enough to pursue two dreams, raise two young boys and sleep.
For several months now, in light of the wonderful response my writing has had, I have been managing to study, write, and be a mum, by not sleeping. I go to university during the day, run around after the kids and make sandwiches and help with homework in the afternoons, and after the children are asleep, I write. But to write at a level which I am happy to publish takes a long time, and so I am not unfamiliar with this time of the night, where the cars disappear from the highways, the staff in the 24-hour MacDonald’s sit, clicking their pens in the boredom of the ghost hours, and even the bugs are asleep.
Several times in the last 10 days, I have woken up to my alarm breaking through the 7am of my morning, only to find I am still here on this couch, with my fingers still positioned on the keyboard of my laptop, and I know I have only slept for an hour or two, and I have classes on campus, back to back from 9am through till 5pm, and even coffee won’t save me.
Its no wonder I am sick, and that I am not getting better, I’m run down, and I don’t know how to fix what is happening, because I don’t know which dream to put on the shelf.
What do I do? I know I have to choose, because I can’t keep doing this. Its now nearly 4am, I have to be up again in a few hours because that assignment sitting on my desk isn’t going to write itself and I have an exam approaching. But how do you choose?
Its like choosing which leg to lose, how do you make a decision like that: I need them both.
What I actually need, is more hours in the day, but I get the same portion afforded to everyone else, and my body is telling me its not okay to keep stealing hours here and there from its rationings set aside for sleep.
To make a tight situation even more cramped, I have begun restoring furniture so I can sell it, so that I don’t have to resort to working night shift 2 days a week in order to survive financially. Seeing as my ex-husband has decided to remain firm in his decision not to contribute one single dime to the upbringing of his beautiful sons, I am left with the expense of private school fees for two, uniforms, clothing, food, toys and happy experiences all by my little self, and when you add to that text books thicker than your arm and more expensive than your rent, things start to get real scary, real quick, so I don’t have much of a choice, I have to make money somehow, and while the furniture restoration has proven to be a very good solution to this problem, it also takes time… and a lot of it.
So here I am, reader, in this dilemma. I have tried to break it all down and see where I may have room to move, but there is no room. I can’t not study, because I cannot bare the thought of not being a nurse. I can’t not write, because I cannot bare the thought of not being a writer, and I can’t stop making old furniture new, because I need to keep the power on somehow….
It is now approaching 5am, and nothing is coming to me. Dear reader, I have come so far, my sister, my boys and I, we have created a new life, but the freedom of this new life has opened what feels like a pandoras box.
What am I going to do?
I hope this doesn’t sound like I am complaining about the dreams themselves, oh I know how blessed I am to have been given a purpose and the eyes to see what that was! What I am battling with is, that something is going to have to be put aside here. I know it can’t be my degree, and I know that money doesn’t grow on trees, so I have to keep making it somehow, and so what I am trying to say is, I fear that the writing will have to go away. I mean, that’s it isn’t it? God isn’t going give me more hours, and no one can survive on 2 hours sleep a night, and I don’t buy lotto tickets, so a win seems out of the question, and this writing won’t pay the bills, it just makes me happy.
I don’t know what I’m going to do, but sitting here crying like a baby isn’t going to answer the question either I suppose, and I can feel the light of day begin to break across the sky behind me, and the children will be waking up soon and will need breakfast, so I should just publish this now and leave it hoping that the morning will bring some answers.
I really must sleep.
Forgive me if this particular post has spelling and grammar errors, or if it is nothing more than a rush of self-pitying and pathetic complaints, this is my online diary remember, so I suppose there will be the occasional post that is nothing more than me breaking down in my living room while being unfortunately close to a laptop so I can spew out the play by play for you poor unfortunate and long suffering readers.
Dear God, please give me more hours in the day…