I have more or less taken off the last three years from both my PhD program in Sociology and paid work. I moved from the upper East Coast to the lower East Coast with my kids and husband when he took a tenure-track job at a liberal arts college in Florida. While my two oldest children were toddlers and babies in Brooklyn, my husband and I did a tag team approach to parenting. We both were working and pursuing PhDs, we passed babies, meal plans, and verbal record of diaper changes at the door. One was off to teach or write or go to class while the other was picking up with play dates, grocery shopping and booger wiping.
When we got to Florida, that all changed. My coursework was complete, so my program was at a natural pausing point. I found myself parenting three young children full-time and without a paid job for the first time in my adult life. My co-parent was suddenly involved in the all-encompassing pursuit of tenure. I was alone in a new place working very hard to convince the children and myself that we would be as happy in this place as were in the last.
Four months after we moved cross country, my mother fell ill and was given just two years to live. The impetus to shower and talk big ideas with adults evaporated in a mountain of laundry, grief, and good intentions. A long-desired third child was born in the midst of my mother's health decline, making for a bittersweet time of celebrating new life in the sunshine state while my mother struggled to take each breath hundreds of miles away. She passed away during the summer of 2015. I found myself taking another year off to care for the baby and myself during what was one of the most challenging seasons of my life.
As my kids get older and the youngest starts preschool this fall, I am slowly making my way back. Work, family, life, death, politics, and parenting and every other important aspect of life I see through my sociological lenses. I am that annoying parent at the playground spouting statistics or latest research on schooling, race, recess, homework, gender, politics, everything. I not so much have been a paid-for-work-outside-of-the-home mom in recent years. Instead, I have been more of a stay-at-home sociologist.