Going to J-school: my walk of protest

New Order Voice

September 7, 2016 | Viewpoints | Volume 20 Issue 18
Katie Doke Sawatzky |

The time has come. At the beginning of September, I began full-time journalism studies at the University of Regina. Our family moved back to Regina for this reason, and after a year of staying at home with our two young kids, I’ll be off studying for the majority of the week.

I’ve gone through a roller-coaster of emotions over the past year, wondering if this is the right decision, but then get excited about learning new skills and making new friends. I wonder if I’ll have enough energy for homework in the evenings, and when Glenn and I will find time for ourselves.

Both sets of our kids’ grandparents are here in the city, which will help, and we have friends who are willing to drop off meals and take the kids in a pinch. Despite this support, I still can’t shake a guilty feeling about being away from home. I know that some friends think I’m crazy to do full-time schooling with young kids. I sense it’s because they wonder how I’ll adequately support my kids and keep up with everything else I’ve been invested in over this past year: cycling everywhere, harvesting food from our garden, keeping house, going to church, among other things.

Well, I won’t. We’ve relicensed our van. I’ll probably buy more boxes of Annie’s Mac n’ Cheese than usual. And Glenn will be at home for the majority of the week, keeping house.

If I was Glenn, hardly anyone would question my decision to go back to school. The fact that I want to learn a discipline, to be mentored by professionals—and when it comes right down to it, share my time with people outside my family—is hard for people, sometimes even for me, to accept.

For a while now, I’ve considered myself a budding activist. “Budding” is the key word here, because it’s been my spirit and not my body that has been in solidarity with those on the frontlines of protests over the past several years. The Burnaby mountain pipeline protest, rallies for refugees in front of the Regina legislature, or, more recently, gatherings of solidarity for Colten Boushie, an indigenous youth shot and killed on a Saskatchewan farm in early August, and his family outside a Regina courthouse, are places I have not been because I’ve been at home with my kids.

At journalism school what I most look forward to are opportunities to dive into stories and events that I wouldn’t necessarily take the time to investigate, or even know about, otherwise. I hope to become more involved in the communities in which I live, writing about and talking with people who have stories to share. Stories of injustice and oppression, but also of reconciliation and relationship-building. I think listening to stories is one of the most compassionate and fruitful things we can do as human beings.

I do believe parenting can be a space where positive change is nurtured. To raise tolerant, open-minded kids takes hard work. But it doesn’t just take my hard work, and I remain convinced that it shouldn’t. It should also be the work of relatives, friends, teachers and churches. I feel blessed that our family has the support we need, for the most part.

I look at it this way: The fact that I still feel the need to justify my decision to go to school tells me two things. First, that some people still assume a mother’s primary place is at home with her kids. Second, that I really should go. It will be my walk of protest, although I’ll usually cycle. 

This is Katie Doke Sawatzky’s last column for New Order Voice. She thanks everyone who has read and responded to her words over the past few years. She lives in Treaty 4 Territory and attends Grace Mennonite Church. She can continue to be reached at katiesawatzky@gmail.com.

Katie began writing for Canadian Mennonite in 2013. Read her first column: “Resisting the pursuit of more.”

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