My father, G-Daddy Jim Cartee, Jr., recently said that some individuals might consider my many responsibilities, professional tasks, and personal endeavors to be impossible with so much on my plate. Of course, the perception of the impossible comes with a lot of stress!
Many readers personally know that I am a dedicated graduate student, working on my Ph.D. in Communication. While enrolled in this Ph.D. program, I also try my best to support my family in any way necessary, which often means stretching myself beyond a normal workload. A 40-hour work week sounds alluring. In fact, it sounds like a luxury I have not yet experienced for most of the last two years.
For those of you who attended a traditional graduate program, you understand what it is like to be in my shoes. It can be all-consuming if you let it!
Before I entered my Ph.D. program in the fall of 2020, Lisa got pregnant with Annabelle. A few college professors and researchers cautioned me about the doctoral workload while having children…like it could not be done…almost like it was impossible. One colleague I highly admire frankly said, "That is a stupid idea!" In other words, it was not advisable to have children while in the program.
However, I think some of these individuals, especially those who do not have children, miss the reasons why parents cherish these blessed tiny humans.
While life experiences can be extremely hard, my children, Annabelle and Jace (who will soon be born) are the reasons Lisa and I work so diligently. My kids are not a burden just because I am a father in a Ph.D. program. They are the reasons why I push myself so hard!
Annabelle and Jace bring unspeakable joy that helps me manage the Ph.D. program along with other major life responsibilities. They often provide a much-needed distraction. My children are the coping mechanism that makes a Ph.D. program doable!
Of course, Lisa is a champion life partner and spouse! She holds our beehive home together by working full-time and taking great care of Annabelle, and soon she will do the same with Jace. If I did not have her support, I am sure the Ph.D. and my other work commitments would be much more difficult. Lisa warrants all the credit when I actually graduate with this degree.
If a parent’s heart rests in the right place, I believe they will feel the same way we do about our kids. We cope with the stressors of life because children allay those pressures through their very existence. Kids create shared, magical moments with parents.
For example, on a few occasions recently, Annabelle picked up my shoes and brought them to me when leaving the house. In another instance, she has often tried to help Lisa and me clean the house. She vacuums with the smaller dust buster while we vacuum with the larger adult vacuum.
And of course, when Annabelle sings and dances to her favorite songs in the Encanto movie, my heart springs with smiles! These are just a few of the memories that make living with a parent’s purpose worthwhile….to remember those moments that will truly last a lifetime.
Please enjoy the following maternity photos recently taken by Audrey Stephens.
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