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.
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??
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.