As I was finishing my final year doing my Bachelor’s of Business Administration with a focus on Marketing, I was asked by many of my professors if I would do the Honours Program, and then head into my PhD. They were so supportive, three different professors, all wanting me to be a part of what they were teaching and doing. Such an honour in itself. One of my professors even offered to have my teach Digital Marketing while I did my Honours Program, even allowing me to have full credit on my research projects, which isn’t the norm in academia. How incredible, a job that pays $100 an hour, the stepping stone program to PhD, and lots of support.
My husband had recently gotten a job in Sydney with a major global brand and was enjoying his work. I was soon to turn 34 and we had decided that having a child was on the horizon and it was in our sights to do that by 35 to reduce any risks. I personally could have waited, but having children wasn’t in my life vision so I hadn’t even heard about the 35 fertility myth or even thought much about it. Also I didn’t have Permanent Residency which was a nice bonus if doing the Honours Program because it would be subsidised greatly, and after paying International Fees to complete my Bachelor’s this seemed like a great idea. We were told by immigration that if we waited until after our 3 year anniversary, and then apply, it would only take six months and I’d have PR. Super. I could defer doing the Honours Program for one year, have a child, and then go back to it with PR and get the subsidised rate.
Within 4 months of graduation, I fell pregnant, literally on our wedding day, and things went full speed ahead. 10 months after graduating we applied for PR as we had met the 3 year requirement for de facto from the beginning of our relationship. I had to apply in between hospital stays, as the pregnancy was very difficult. I had too many things going on, I know it. We were trying to start up a couple of businesses, trying to settle between houses in Sydney and at the farm, and me trying to understand the flow of hormones in my body and to be at peace with the exhaustion and full time nausea. It was too much. I had no idea what I was doing, and truly hadn’t had conversations around the gestation process and thought my body would just do what it needed. Things went sideways, and eventually baby came very early due to complications via an emergency caesarian. We then went through the horrendous process of the NICU and the uncertainty and all of the emotional pain, along with the physical pain I was still dealing with. It was a crazy upheaval of a time. One year after graduation, we were able to take baby home for the first time, after he had been in care for five weeks and was strong enough to come home. Things were not going to return to normal, there wasn’t going to be an Honours Program and teaching at the University, it wasn’t going to be any time soon, that was absolutely for certain.
I nursed my own Post Partum Depression, and Post Traumatic Stress, I nursed the baby, and he became my focus, completely. I was still trying to figure out how to be a mum, and my husband was away four long days at a time for work, which then followed by four days at home, but those four days away were long, and isolating. I lost myself in it. I had the darkest days I’ve known. Permanent Residency didn’t come, and then it kept not coming, and everything seemed to be in this state of grey.
It took me a while to get through it, I formed a Mother’s Group based on a community education program for new mums that I went to, and they became the guiding light that I so desperately needed. A group of women who had children all the same age as my son, all of them new, and all of us going through the same thing at the same time, and everyone living nearby. We don’t have any family here, so I had to create one myself.
So time continued to pass, my son got stronger, I got stronger, and life started to normalise. I continued to think we were going to be moving back to the farm area, but alas it didn’t happen. I didn’t choose to become a single parent, and it has been on purpose that we’ve stayed together and I know it’s been the right choice versus having my husband fly back and forth to the farm. In this time, I’ve also looked briefly at taking courses, but without having PR or citizenship, the costs are quite high, like astronomically high. I even for a moment thought that when PR was coming, which again it hadn’t, that I could do the medical program that was highly subsidised and become a doctor. What was I thinking. It would have been a great route when i was younger and didn’t have children, but now it’s not a practical choice, although i did get caught up in the fantasy and forecasting of it all.
Honestly I do want a source of income that doesn’t tie me down to one spot, and that doesn’t require me to do a 9-5, Monday through Friday job. I don’t see how that fits in with being the kind of hands on mother that I am, and I don’t see how that allows me the flexibility for us to go to the farm, or make a trip, or the like when my husband has time off. I want the flexibility and the freedom of location and time, plus money. A career in academia sounded great before having children, maybe it would be great when he is older, but we may very well have another child and I don’t want to put my children right into daycare, I want to be that guiding influence for them when they are young, and then when they get old enough and want some diversity, then offer the option for them to go to daycare or other play programs.
Australia is very much a country that requires qualifications and certifications for everything. My husband says its because they are risk averse, and I get it, it’s easier to make sure everyone is doing what they should be doing if they all are on the same page as to what exactly that is. So when looking back at reskilling, looking for courses that offer a qualification at the end makes the most sense. Also when looking for practical courses, it would make sense to learn about something in the direction that we are heading. So I looked into Financial Planning, and then into Real Estate. I had looked into Real Estate before I had PR, but again due to costs, and lack of time with having a very young child, it was shelved. Now, I’ve found a course to get a Real Estate license that I’ll have by completed within four months or less, which sounds very appealing. We now live in a high growth sector of Sydney and my thought is that if I wanted to pick up something casual in a Real Estate office or do something else in that field over here, then this would be a high demand area. Also, more specifically, i want to learn the ins and outs of Real Estate as I do want to start investing in that sector. Soon we’ll be buying our own home, and I want to understand the process, and better yet, if I can help us maximise our money, and save money, that would be amazing. So this is the direction I am heading.
I wonder how many other women who have children completely change their career paths because they have children and need the flexibility of time. Thankfully I do like to study and learn, so this will be an enriching experience for me. Ideally one where I can help others and myself along the way.