‘After 5 months of taking care of a baby, stacking credit hours, and barely seeing each other, we insisted on not walking for graduation.’: Wife talks sacrificing for marriage and family

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“We talk a lot about how much moms sacrifice for the man’s career, but for some, the dads sacrifice a lot too. Five years ago, the two of us, with a newborn, graduated. Him with his bachelor’s and me with my master’s.

I’m not going to lie, it was absolute chaos. We both were so exhausted after five months of taking care of a baby, stacking credit hours, and barely seeing each other that we insisted on not walking for graduation, and my mom had to force us to put on these hats for one photo.

New parents pose for graduation picture after chaotic semester of school.
Courtesy of Jess Carpenter

For the five months prior, Ryan would go to school during the day, drive home, hand me the keys, I’d hand him the baby, and I’d go to school at night. He got to do dad duty with an exclusively breastfed baby (who often refused a bottle) during the time we all aptly call ‘the witching hour.’

And not even a week after I gave birth, Ryan drove the three of us up to the university (with two of us still in diapers), and stayed and rocked Lily in the car while I took two grad school finals, rushing out in between them so I could feed her.

For two parents who had never had a newborn, it was a lot. But (thankfully), we didn’t know any better and just did what we had to. Our last semester of school definitely didn’t see our finest work (in fact, I owe my entire dissertation passing to one really nice professor who took mercy on me), but we did it.

We both sacrificed, a lot, for each other and our futures. Since then, the sacrifices we’ve made haven’t always been equal, but everything has its season. I’m sure there will be times I sacrifice more or he sacrifices more. The important thing is that you’re willing to do it, out of love and to support the other person, because you’re in a partnership.

Here’s to five years of being graduated and never having to go back to school again.”

Family poses for pictures together.
Courtesy of Jess Carpenter

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jess Carpenter. You can follow her journey on Instagram, TikTok, and on her website. You can visit Jess’ author page here and buy her new book here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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