So today is the day that Husband should have set off back to Durham. Ready to don his flat cap and badger with pride, and accept his degree certificate- to a round of applause- with deserving peers beside.
But instead… he’s here with me. His heavily pregnant, dramatically hormonal, sugar-deprived chocoholic and currently insomniac wife; consistently reminding him that- wonderful as he is– in these last few weeks, being male and all, he simply cannot do anything right. His back is done in, he’s out of sleep; and our cute-but-crazy toddlers are egging on his defeat!
But they won’t, see; our efforts to break him just won’t do … because he’s Husband; resilient, loyal, dependable. And he always, always pulls through!
And so today, while it’s not the same as a ceremony, let me yell it from my little mountain… Husband, I am so grateful you stayed… but so flipping proud upon graduation!
When he decided not to go across the country and leave me, at 36 weeks pregnant, with aforementioned toddlers for two days, he said it wasn’t that big a deal.
“It’s a shame,” he said, “but I’ve already been ordained… so, you know, I guess it’s just more of the same.”
But, the thing is, it’s not.
And I’m pleased they celebrate the spiritual element and the study side, months apart… because it’s not the same; not even close; and I’ve been saying that from the start.
Let me explain…
When considering theological colleges, Husband didn’t even want to look at Durham. He came out of school with three hard-gotten C’s and more E’s than a 90’s rave. His school teacher advised him not to bother applying for any University the first time round, and another told him “if you can’t pass this with me, you won’t pass with anyone- I’ll tell you that now!”
(Though, any teachers thinking this is a bit backward- I have to say that’s nothing! His first ever role in a Christmas play was as the chimney, shouting : “Santa, you got stuck up me!”)
Only in Cornwall!
Still, I digress…
Husband is dyslexic, and possibly dyspraxic; so, the thought of spending three years trying to keep up with everyone else at one of the top Universities in the country was intimidating, to say the least. He was convinced that, not only would he be out of his depth, but he’d be stuck down there with a bunch of toffs and know-it-alls as well!
Still, as usual, pushy wife had other plans. With a 9-month-old, three years to grow, and my entire family down the road… the other colleges were hours away; it was illogical to let Durham go.
So, we went and looked and God was good. By no coincidence, I’m sure… the student who showed us around was a laidback, dyslexic, standup comedian- with a young family of his own! He put Husband’s mind at rest about all of the things he thought he couldn’t do. And, while the insecurities remained, gave him the confidence to believe that, with help, he could do it too.
I’m so thankful to God and to Cranmer that such a pairing took place! (And that while the toffy know-it-all in the common room spouted off, Husband was otherwise engaged!)
I’m also thankful that when we moved and started, he was placed in a rowdy “reading space”; with a bunch of other ex-youth workers, equally ridiculous and laddish; but equally good for him, in all the right ways. Here, he found like-minded men to keep him sane, and soothe his aching brain – and to make sure, while the calling is very serious- he never took himself too seriously, ever again!
And so, in this context, began the upward struggle degree. And, you know, while I’ll happily take some credit for proofreading; he always, incorrectly, says half of it belongs to me.
But it doesn’t.
See, while I might get a few more marks for comprehension, and be a little more crafty with words… I couldn’t have done what he did; balancing placements, family, and academic insecurities, with so much heavy work.
See, he didn’t just read the books and write the essays. He read them and wrote them in plenty of time to have them scrutinised and criticised- repeatedly- by his hopelessy perfectionist wife.
And that can’t be easy.
Imagine having your other half, who never sat in a lecture, comb through your efforts with a rude, red pen- telling you over and over to write that non-sensical bit again?!
That’s some pride-swallowing right there.
And it wouldn’t have happened a few years ago, I can tell you that now! His dyslexic emails and nonsense letters caused many a professional-slash-personal row! But the fact is, he’s changed in the last few years- he owns his weaknesses as well as his strengths. And it seems the closer he gets to leadership – the more humble and collaborative he gets.
And the same goes for the placements- in three years, he never lost his stride! Strongly believing there’s always more to learn; he left no room for pride.
And apart from his stint at the hospital, showing families around the morgue; his critic followed him everywhere, giving notes on each pulpit talk. (A hangover from our theatre days, but I add in my defence- this guy will be the main speaker in my spiritual walk, for the rest of my church-going days! Better be half decent…)
In his final year, his tutor worried he wasn’t standing out as he should. No one knew his name; he was avarage; never saying very much.
So, recognising the need to exercise his lead… He decided to run for President!
Now, I’ll be honest, at first my reaction wasn’t great… “I tell you, I’m not handing out cupcakes, covered in your face!”
But, while the students voted, the staff were dubious… who was he again?!
He’s a manager; an encourager; a people-person; for the team. He showed them all what I’ve seen all along… Pastoral leadership runs through his veins.
So, by third year, all was in full swing… until the big man in charge – the principle – moved on to higher things! Suddenly Husband’s study time was squeezed to the max… supporting the interim, helping plan interviews, graduations, and all manner of things like that!
See, I don’t think anyone really grasped how the time pressure took it’s toll… how his reading, essays, rewrites and all, alongside a young family, was alot to control. New year hit and the final term brought on the dissertation… Not to mention a toxic appendix, erupting on his birthday! So, you know, upon finally landing uninterrupted study time… he went and had an operation.
The odds were up and off the charts- too much presssure to mention. But you know, he did it all in plenty of time, without ever asking for an extension.
This unconfident, dyslexic, presidential underdog with an overtly-perfectionist critic; hands-on dad with an energetic young family; and bursting mid-dissertation appendix…
Graduated from Durham University this week, with an Upper Second Class Degree!
That’s a flipping Russell Group 2.1, that folks!
So… I’m proud.
So, so flipping proud…
Of the degree, yes, indeed.
But more of the Husband, father, leader and man that he is… and of all that little piece of paper says to me.
100% on the job…
But 100% around.
We couldn’t ask any more of you, although we often do… as you go above and beyond, in everything you do.
And as one who doesn’t possess alot of those skills, I don’t mind saying aloud…
You deserve the biggest celebration- as it just wouldn’t have happened the other way around!
So it might not be a graduation,
Or a sit down dinner;
Your date might be a bit of a whale…
But guess what! She’s got a sitter!
Pitch Perfect 3?!
You and me?
Best not get me in stitches…
Still, it’s time for a laugh and a party at that…
Acca-demia done, b*****s!