Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The PhD...

So, on New Year's Eve, I was sitting across from both of my grandmothers, (and one grandfather) and as we were PARTYING like wild animals with cheese balls, ritz crackers and non-alcoholic bubbly (we party like Rock Stars, what can I say?), I lamented the pain of being a PhD candidate's wife.

"Grandma!" I cried. "How did you get through it!! And how did Grandpa ever finish???"

"Well, you just do what you have to do," was her ridiculously simple answer.

I wasn't finished whining. "BUT HOOOOWWWWW???" I pressed.

She explained, "Well, I'd send your grandpa to school in the mornings, I'd stay home with the boys and then he'd come home for dinner. Then, he'd go back to school after dinner, I'd put the boys to bed at 8 and go to sleep myself. Then Grandpa would come home at 10:30 and I'd go work at the hospital from 11-7." She said nonchalantly.

My jaw dropped. "You got through Grandpa's PhD on 2 hours of sleep a night?????" I was incredulous.

"Yeah, but you just do want you have to!" she repeated. She was completely unmoved by my shock and horror. Three little boys, a husband in the military, and in school full-time and SHE worked the night shift.

I turned to my OTHER grandmother, who had ALSO put a husband through a PhD program. "Nana, how'd YOU do it?" I was determined to find answers.

"Oh, I just went to school myself and got my masters degree." She said. Again, as if it was nothing.

"Oh, well, that sounds easy...."

They all went on to share experiences from their years as PhD student families. They sounded similiar to our struggles now. Their complete nonchalance stressed me out. I was in the same situation they had been in (three kids, husband almost done... no money, etc), and I feel like we're fighting this HUGE battle to the end.

Yet, they survived, and BOTH of my grandfathers got their PhDs.

Hmmmm.....

So, is it 40+ years that has given them perspective to act as if the feats they accomplished were nothing, or was it really that easy??

OR

is it that I am a huge baby?

I think perhaps it's that last one.

Derek works hard, SO hard. He provides for us, all while going to school, and I am blessed to stay home with our boys. We live on a tight budget and in a city we do not particularly love. BUT Derek is nearly done. One year from now, he'll be DONE, FOREVER! The reality of this is sinking in, because today he got approved FINALLY to continue on to work on his dissertation. WOO-HOO!

So, why do I feel like we're barely keeping our heads above water?

Some of my frustration stems from being useless. I don't like that I do NOTHING to help him with school. I'll edit on occasion, but he has to earn those three letters after his name. I can't do it for him or really even do much to help. I don't like it.

So, I have decided that spouses of PhD students should get honorary masters degrees. I think I'll have earned it by the end.

And if I can't have that, then I want a t-shirt that says, "I survived the PhD!"

But, again, after speaking with my grandmothers and grandfather, it appears that I am huge baby.

So, maybe I'll grow up and need no tshirt. I'm kinda doubting it, but I'll keep you posted.

9 comments:

Lynn said...

I agree that we should earn honorary degrees! When Janson gets his degree and becomes a doctor this June, I will see it as a full family success. We ALL sacrificed for it. Your grandmas sound like they went through a lot, but give yourself credit too... we live in a completely different era! You surviving your current situation is just as heroic as their survival of their own situation. Keep it up, girl!

Kara said...

This is what I've decided. Here is where my decision starts: My MIL always talks about how her kids were perfect babies and amazing toddlers and didn't get into ANYTHING she told them not to. I've realized, that it's not true. :) She just remembers the good in it. I think that's how your grandparents are now. Their perspective has changed and they remember what was good (I'd assume and how that's how it is for me). I totally understand though, and feel like a HUGE baby all the time because I feel like I'm falling apart with Dale starting his Masters. I totally agree about the honorary degree though! :) I think that's an amazing idea. I'll let you present the idea to the big shots though. ;)

Annie Valentine said...

Morgan my friend, I love your blog. You are not a baby, your grandmothers didn't have to deal with time sucking trials like blogging and tivo. Life was so much easier.

And the toilet suggestion? Worked wonders with my first. You will soon find out (seeing that your number two is coming of age) that all toilet training methods are not created equal. Sadly, Rex will have NONE of it.

May you be blessed with clean carpets and dirty toilets. Oh, to dream...

Amber C said...

Morgan, reading your blog is like total deja vu. Dave is a low man on the totem pole at work and we are barely scraping by, even without paying much in rent (his grandparents paid cash for our house we are in). Every week I look at our paycheck and wonder where all the money went. We don't eat out much, I cook constantly. We don't go do much at all unless it is free, like story time at the library. I asked my MIL how she did this with her 3 kids and her hubby being gone all the time as well. She told me the exact same thing AND she told me how perfect her house was with 3 kids, and how her friends always complimented her on how clean she kept it. I agree, she does not remember everything correctly, I'm sure of it. So, I do what I can. I'm in school to get another Associate's Degree so eventually I can either get a job using it or work from home using it. Do not lament. This too shall pass, then you'll have the experience to pass on to your daughters-in-law and granddaughters when they are in your shoes.

Erin said...

Darling Sibling: You are awesome. You have fantastic, wonderful and amazing kids. You support Derek in everyway he needs. Your boys and Derek are blessed to have you. :-) You are doing the best you can it is AWESOME. :-) Love you tons.

Brian and Kelsey said...

This is why YOU get the PhD. LOL. Running a household with 2 almost three little boys in it, is hard enough work for anyone. Do not feel useless. I couldn't do it. Oh and I was disappointed that you didn't post the list of possible names... I would like to see.
Love
Kelsey

Morgan and Derek said...

Lynn- I think YOU have totally earned an honorary degree. :)

Kara- Yeah, your MIL lies.

Annie- Then I vote for putting undies on him and letting his teacher deal with him. But I'm evil that way.

Amber- You're amazing for being in school at the same time.

Erin- Where shall we move to? We need to start packing boxes soon. ;)

Kelsey- Yeah, in a DREAM world...

Alisa and Jared said...

No, you're justified. You TOTALLY have to get the t-shirt...

;-)

BloggingBills said...

I think my mom has a certificate somewhere for a PhT degree: pushing hubby through..... Ask Nana if she remembers that.

Just FYI Boo Boo Head: if you didn't do what you do, Derek could never do what he does. How many husbands have to quit school cuz their wife whines about money and so he gets a temporarily better paying but dead end job.....

You do a lot baby doll. So just take credit for what you do.

And by the way, when Nana went back to school, it wasn't that easy. The kids picked up a lot of slack.

Love ya, the end is in sight!
MA

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