Friday, May 18, 2018


Well, I did it. Submitted all those final grades today, the very last item on my spring semester to-do list. And that's it. The first year of my PhD is in the books, with nothing but a long summer stretching before me, home with the kids!

Actually, I've been home full time for over a week now, and can I just say...

It's been an adjustment.

So funny, how long I've been looking forward to summer and to just being a stay-at-home mom again, no more rushing everything, no more dropping the kids off at the nanny's, no more stressing when the school calls about my child being sick and I'm over an hour away tied up in student conferences, no more guilt! Just staying home, spending all the time with my kids, doing all the things I haven't had time for!

And then to come home and remember that, oh yeah, stay-at-home life can be rough!

Yes, being in school for a full course load while teaching two classes was incredibly busy and stressful. But it was also fulfilling and immediately rewarding. I mean, there was the sitting in class and talking to professors and other grad students and hearing them respond to my ideas and treat me like I was an interesting, intelligent human being. But then there's all these other confidence building rewards too, signals that real people in this real world like me and think I have something to offer: getting As on my papers, getting two papers accepted to conferences, getting high ratings from my student evaluations and comments telling me about how much I impacted my students' lives, winning a departmental award for best graduate seminar paper, etc. It's pretty addicting, that feeling of "Yes! I'm a smart, intelligent person, and other people think so too!"

But then I come home, and my kids are like: "I want more milk!" "Change my poopy diaper!" "I want a snack!" "Mom, I can't find my shoes!!!!" And while I'm doing my very, very best to raise polite, pleasant little children, we're not there yet. So much of being a mom is feeling like a failure. Feeling like a drudge. Feeling like you are doing nothing right, and no one is giving you gold stars for what you are doing right. In fact, most of what you do right as a mother (serving vegetables for dinner! enforcing those screen limits! getting everyone bathed and to bed on time!) is met with outright hostility.

It's an ungrateful position. You work so hard for so little encouragement except to wake up again the next morning to be met by another round of thoughtless demands, tears, and failure.

But you know what? I'm grateful for it, if for no other reason than to keep me humble.
"Though I have been busy, perhaps overbusy, all my life, it seems to me now that I have accomplished little that matters, that the books have never come up to what was in my head, and that the rewards—the comfortable income, the public notice, the literary prizes, and the honorary degrees—have been tinsel, not what a grown man should be content with."  -Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety
I'm extremely grateful that I'm getting a PhD right now. This past year has been hard, but in an amazing way. I've seen what I can do. I've seen how I can grow. It's been incredible to get to develop in this way, and it feels so, so right. It feels like exactly what I'm meant to be doing.

But I already know that at the end of my life, it won't matter a smidge.

No degree, no career, nothing matters more than my children. My family. My real life. And while it's super nice to get those shiny grades and awards and gold star recognition, my real growth as a human being happens in the far more humble work of making dinner every day, and scrubbing pee-covered toilets, and folding the millionth load of laundry, and putting the to-do list on hold to go outside and push my son on the swing for the hundreth time today. It's rocking my baby to sleep because those molars are coming in slow and painful and she needs her mama. It's reading stories to my boys before bed. It's having dance parties in the kitchen. It's those small, golden, sometimes hard and un-glamorous, moments that the real rewards of life are found.

So here's to summer! Here's to being home with my kids! Here's to more growth and personal development, more testing of patience, more analyzing priorities, more looking for the positive, more focusing on love!

(And here's to the fact that in August, I'll get to go back to school again!)


  1. I can do relate to this. I’m on week 8 of maternity leave and reminded that being home with the kids is SO HARD. We’re still adjusting to 4 kids and I constantly feel like my life is on the most monotonous repeat. And I go to bed more exhausted than I did when I was working and pregnant.

    1. Adrienne, I didn't know you were still working! (We really need to catch up!). Oh man, four kids is rough, and I have nothing but major props for you for just surviving this stage right now. Best luck!

  2. I appreciate you writing about this! Having done both things myself (been a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home mom), I can definitely see the challenges inherent in both, but I think sometimes that it's easy, when you're solidly in one and it's hard, to hold up the other as this golden thing that's just going to be so much better than the hard you're currently going through. The fact is, there ARE benefits and struggles with both, and there are definitely times I miss getting those "gold stars." I think in some ways, that's why I continue to blog--just to show that I AM still an intelligent, creative human being who can do more than maybe what I'm currently being asked to do (or at least, do more of a different kind of work). Here's to you adjusting back to the SAHM life quickly so that you can enjoy your time off fully while it lasts!

    (And also---WOO HOO on having your first year down! What an accomplishment! And it sounds like you did awesome.)

    1. Yeah, both are rough in different ways. But it's definitely easier to see success at school/work than it is at home, which is one way being a stay-at-home mom is rougher (at least for me). But Moms are still intelligent, capable, creative people too! You deserve all the gold stars!

  3. Oh my goodness, I love this! Here’s a shiny gold star for you: this post was so insightful, well-written, and entertaining.

    1. Thanks Amy! Always nice to get a little validation (now if only I could get some from my kids!)