Is the ‘juice worth the squeeze’?

Friday, November 4, 2016 1:20 pm
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Andrew Hamilton | 98five blogger

It’s been a year of transition.

The kids went back to school, my wife Danelle has picked up some work there and by virtue of having to fit into school schedules we have started to live a somewhat ‘normal’ life.

We now have children to get to school every morning, and home every afternoon…there is homework…and lots of it…our lives have become governed by school hours and school terms.

I realise this is how most people live, but I’m not enjoying ‘the squeeze’.


I’m not enjoying the sense of conforming to the rules of suburbia and there is a part of me that is wondering how long we can sustain this kind of life, or if we even want to.

“Oh don’t be silly — of course you can sustain it, just look around you — everybody does it!” I hear someone say.

And I’d say “so what?! Who said it has to be this way? And what impact does it have on those people?…Is it all good?”

Obviously we made these choices for a reason.

One of my life’s mottos is that ‘life is a series of compromises’. You just can’t have everything you want all the time and sometimes you simply have to be willing to trade ‘x’ for ‘y’. We have made a choice to trade some of our freedom (and Danelle’s sanity) by outsourcing education to a third party.

But I didn’t actually realise how much of a family life change it was going to be having the kids back in the system.

We originally made the decision because Danelle was struggling to cope with the demands of two kids in more advanced schooling and by sending them back it took that load off her plate. And it has done that…she has not struggled with anxiety anywhere near as much and the sheer weight of planning their education is no longer hers.

For the most part we are really happy with their school situation, but lately I’ve been noticing the squeeze — the forces being exerted on us that are shaping us into the predictable patterns of suburban life (and I get they aren’t all bad — people need to know how to ‘fit in’ as well as how to think for themselves).

That said, for the last six years I have always liked that at any time I could say “hey let’s down tools and take off for a few days down south!” And we could.

Or “Hey the surf looks good today, Sam. Forget maths this morning and let’s hit the beach’. And he could.

Earlier in the year I offered Sam a day off to come surfing with me and he told me he wasn’t allowed.

“What?!… I’m your Dad, boy! If I can’t give you permission then who can?!”

“Yeah…we aren’t allowed to wag school dad,’ came the autobot reply. My butt cheeks clenched tight.

The squeeze…literally.

It started right back then. Sam is a natural law abider anyway, but what kid wouldn’t take their Dad’s offer of a day off school?!

As part of our arrangement with the church we choose to take a lower salary in exchange for an extra two weeks’ holiday each year. It was partly to help the church with the $$, but it was always my intention to make sure we spent plenty of time on the road travelling.

That was great when we could shoot off up north for a month over July and then slot another couple of weeks in at other times, but now the mid-year break is just two weeks. Exams come at the end of term and apparently it isn’t cool to skip them. And then it’d be tough on the kids for them to miss all the start up stuff in the first week of term.

So we fit in.

Part of the challenge is running a seasonal business, and yes, that’s my choice. So we can take four weeks over Christmas, but apart from the crowds and the premium prices it’s also the prime time to make some good money.

Perhaps this is just how it is and we need to suck it up and slot in. For the next four years our life revolves around our kids’ education and their adolescent years. I do think there is an element of inevitability about that. But I also hope that when we (and they) come out the other end we haven’t become so entrenched that we have lost the ability to think for ourselves and choose our own path.

Or in the immortal words of the not-so-well-known philosopher Forrest Griffin — I really hope the juice is worth the squeeze…


ONLINE USE_Andrew Hamilton profile photoAndrew is a part-time pastor, part-time retic bloke, full-time husband, dad and coffee snob (he’s also one of 98five’s 3 Minute Message pastors). He describes his blogs as unrefined, theological musings, random personal reflections and occasional naughtiness. | Follow Andrew on Instagram



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