the graduate wife, year one

Sure, he gets to do cool things, like have lab meetings in bars, dive in the Bahamas for class, tag sharks, prepare for a career, pursue his dreams. I bring home the bacon and cook it, too, but I never think of my life as being the working wife of a full-time graduate student. I’m just a grown woman with a grown job. Lots of adults do it. I’m an adult.

Our lives aren’t all that different from last year when we both had jobs. Spending and giving have decreased, savings are nonexistent, and our schedules aren’t the same, but my husband is so much happier going to school than working the jobs he used to have. It makes it financially easier that we aren’t directly responsible for any other living creatures, e.g. baby humans. It’s also emotionally helpful that I don’t have any deep-rooted vocational aspirations for myself.

MY FUTURE DREAMS

This past spring, I took a grad class towards a M.Ed. program I ended up turning down. This past summer, I took four undergrad classes towards my teaching certification. I discovered I don’t want to be a working student, at least not with my current job that often leaves my brain thoroughly ineffective after 4p each day.

One day, I’ll go back to school, but I don’t know what I will study. One day, I’ll write a book, but I don’t know what I will write. One day, I’d like to run a hostel or bed & breakfast, but I don’t know in which country. One day, I’d like to get yoga instructor certified, but I enjoy my practice quite well without having to speak and pay attention to anyone else.

MY PRESENT DREAMS

I’ve been working at my school for two years now. Teaching at-risk teenage girls is draining, but it can be incredibly rewarding. I don’t get summers off, but I’m starting to accrue more vacation days. We share one car, but it only takes me five minutes to walk to work. I’m constantly on my feet entertaining my students, but I choose to never bring work home.

Noah’s current goals are primarily academic, but mine are personal. Right now, I just want to be healthy and whole. I want my body, thoughts, feelings, and spirit to be in the same place at the same time. And so, he goes to class and I go to counseling. He plays in the water and I play on my yoga mat. He publishes scientific papers and I write journal entries. We’re both going for it, individually and together.

SPONSORING THE WINNING TEAM

We have come to realize that our hobbies and interests are completely different. His masters is in marine biology, but I don’t really like animals nor do I care to understand a lot of what he’s learning. The interdisciplinary ideas pique my curiosity, but the various fish species bore me. And that’s okay. Being in different worlds makes our combined world even bigger.

I don’t understand how married couples have separate bank accounts. How do they do it? We’re one. We have one income. We have one family. Maybe when I’m a mother and he’s working on his PhD, it’ll feel more like a sacrifice than it does now. Research says that married men have better graduate student outcomes than single men. I like to believe that I contribute to my husband’s academic success. In fact, I know I do, and it makes me successful, too.

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