Instead of reading journal papers or writing my next chapter, I’m watching a movie of ‘Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer’ with my daughter. One of us is covered in spots and feeling miserable, the other is wondering how she will get any work done in the next week or so and whether or not her daughter will let her sneak away later for a half-hour so she can check her email.

I look back fondly on the days when I did my first degree.

In particular, I remember a beautiful big tree in the middle of a quadrangle. It felt like this tree belonged to my group of friends.  We’d sit under it nearly every day and eat our lunch, arguing about this and that and generally enjoying the freedom that came from not being at school anymore. You could almost be guaranteed that one of us would be there if you felt like a little company, no matter the time of day. Sometimes the whole lot of us would sit and read or study, throwing out an occasional question or comment for the others, passing around a bag of biscuits or dried fruit to keep us going.

It must have rained sometimes, but just now I can’t imagine that it ever did.

Those days, for me, are long gone. My university experience since then has all been part-time, fitting it in in the cracks of full-time work. When I did my thesis for my Masters degree I went down to four days a week working, with Fridays (and the evenings and the weekends) free for study.

These days I’m enrolled full-time in a Phd as an off-campus student, I live in a foreign country, I have a young daughter in early primary school and I run my own business giving music lessons in my home studio.

It all requires a fair bit of juggling, something we’re all required to do. When you are a parent, though, you learn to expect it, and that every now and then something will come along that leaves little room for anything else. Something that has no respect for someone trying to get a little honest work done.

So, thank you…chickenpox! You fit the bill perfectly.



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