Someday I might blog things other than pictures of me holding my dissertation.Today is not that day.
Because yesterday, I had my oral defense which means that the doctor is officially IN. The defense was way more intense than I anticipated, but it felt really good to actually defend, to dig into the trenches with my 300 page baby and fight off every attack. I’m really proud of this dissertation, of this degree, of the past 5 years. They have been crazy and demanding, but I am proud of coming out the other side with some extra letters behind my name- not to mention two kids. I started actually writing my dissertation in January of 2016, a couple months before Henry was born. My entire dissertation process has been dominated by juggling pregnancy, a newborn, a toddler, and more pregnancy- with the second time being way more brutal than Henry’s breezy pregnancy. Finding time to write meant having to jealously protect every nap time, every spare weekend moment, every babysitting opportunity. It meant fighting to focus through exhaustion and nausea and pain these last months especially, and it means I can calculate an actual dollar worth of this project, because I paid a whole lot to babysitters to make it happen. I did not have the luxury of taking my time, though I realize that to those not in academia, 2 years might not exactly seem like a rush.
But even as I am inclined to feel really proud of myself for this accomplishment, I am humbled to think of the army of people who have stepped up in our lives over the past couple years. The obvious ones, like my academic advisors, got big shoutouts in my defense. But that’s not the whole story. People like my college roommate, who flew across the country when Henry was 8 weeks old to watch him for a week so I could try to get back into writing. My parents, who have come to visit on multiple occasions, throwing me out of the house to get as much work done as possible. My siblings and their spouses, who have done everything from watch Henry, to provide me with critical resources for my research. The friends who answered my panicked texts Tuesday night about what to wear to my defense, one of them being brutally honest that one outfit looked like “a pregnant politician’s wife,” and another telling me I needed to “beg, borrow, or steal a blazer.” My Capitol Hill girlfriends, who raided their closets and drove over a selection of blazers at 9pm so I could dress confidently. And James. James, who never begrudged the cost of endless sitters, who happily committed to several years of weekends where I disappeared all day Saturday and he chilled with Henry while I wrote. James, who read multiple drafts of each chapter – in spite of the abundance of French quotes. James, who put up with my rather emotional responses to every editing suggestion and pushed back on my ideas, forcing me to make them better.
A lot of people have had a lot to do with those letters getting added behind my name, and I am so, so thankful. I know they just did it in hopes of lavish gifts once I make millions as a French professor – but still. I feel beyond blessed by the people who helped push this milestone.
Now then. On to celebrating! Yesterday I returned home and reveled by… folding 6 loads of laundry, eating Chick-Fil-A, and watching This is Us. The evening continued in similar fashion with UberEats and The Bachelor. What can I say? OFF THE HOOK PARTYING. My big celebration was going to Sweden last week, and now that I’ve defended, I can finally get those posts up. I know you were just biting your nails in anticipation.