Well, this finish line. There are three more ahead of me in the completion of this PhD. But this one is a biggie. This is the one in which I turn over all my draft revisions to my chair. If he likes what he sees, on it goes to my full committee for comments and feedback. Finish Line 1.

Finish Line 2: Dissertation proposal hearing with the full committee.

Finish Line 3: Analyze data and complete the Results and Conclusion sections.

Finish Line 4: Defend my dissertation.

Because my advisor is very good and very detailed, this current portion of the work is proving to be the most challenging. While I would never suggest that it will be all downhill from here, I do think things will get easier once I hit the proposal hearing phase.


I cannot really emphasize the mental fatigue I have been feeling as of late. I am a student, I work full-time and I am also a mother. Each role requires a different approach and each has different measurable outcomes. A good day at work is different from a good day at home and a good day as a PhD student. If I falter in one of the areas, it is very, very hard work to prevent the irritation/frustration/disappointment/anger to trickle into the other areas. I try to compartmentalize my life, with varying degrees of success on a given day. The result is a brain mush that makes it challenging to proceed in anything other than survival mode. This is not to say that I am not enjoying my life or the simple pleasures contained therein. My husband and children can still make me smile every day. I’ve not stopped laughing or seeking out opportunities to have fun. But it’s a muted enjoyment, tempered by the constant, nagging thought in the back of my brain that says, “Shouldn’t you be doing xyz?” If I am at work and there is down time, I silently chastise myself for not summarizing a journal article for my dissertation proposal. Same with my time in the evening at home after the boys go to bed. If I am throwing myself into my studies at night, I snarl as I think to myself, “I just want to be cuddling up next to Papa Bird on the couch and fall asleep watching a show with him as I attempt to muster up the concentration to listen to his explanation of a fascinating news piece he has read that day.”

It’s time limited. Not the balance of work and family, which is my normal. But the balance of work, family AND studies – that is time limited. There were moments when I wanted to walk away.  Was composing the “I quit” email in my head. I have a tenacity that can be confusing to those around me. I can arbitrarily quit some things with nary a thought and glance backwards. And then other things I cling to stubbornly because failure is just not an option. I have to find a way to keep on keepin’ on because walking away is more painful a notion than the  pain I endure when doing that thing. I suppose it is the labors of love that I refuse to give up on. My husband and my marriage. My children and my work in raising them. And now, my dissertation.

I’ll be back to regular posting soon. In the interim, I’ve chosen to just enjoy the time with my children rather than document the enjoyment. With a to-do list a mile long, it’s the little things that matter.