the trailing spouse

Coco drawing in the afternoon light. #goodthings Bubbles! And best friends :)

I really appreciate all the feedback you gave me on my recent post asking you what you’d like to read more of. It feels like I’ve been at a sort of cross-roads with this blog and I haven’t been entirely certain how to proceed. Do I keep writing about biking or has that been exhausted? How much of our daily family happenings should I keep writing about? Do I even have anything of value to add on the topic of academic motherhood now that I’m barely making a career in that field…?

While I contemplated narrowing the focus of the blog on just biking and outdoor family adventures, several of you wrote that you appreciated and wanted more posts on balance and life/academia.

So here’s a post on balance. And academia. And motherhood and family and community:

When it comes to balance, the overarching theme of many things written on this topic seems to be how to make more room for your personal life amidst work and career requirements. For me, it’s the opposite that I struggle with: how to built more of a career to compliment my identity as partner and mother.

It's summer! Proof: laundry hanging on the clothesline: one of my favorite things in the world. All grown up! Ready to go to her first day of school this morning. #sniff

I feel a whole range of mixed emotions as a result: guilt that I’m unsatisfied with working little or less than others (after all, isn’t that what everyone seems to be after: more time for personal goals and less time at work?). (And here I’m talking about paid work, which our society often sees as the only kind of “work” that counts.) I also feel shame that here I am, after nine years of grad school with a PhD in hand, struggling to make some sort of career happen. But I also feel fortunate that in this tough job market one of us has a great career going and that I don’t have to worry about putting food on my child’s plate or a roof over her head despite job rejection after job rejection.

I’m sure my story isn’t unique: it’s the story of many a trailing spouse who’s made sacrifices to his or her own career so that the other partner could follow a promising path. I’m happy that we’re not both struggling and that my husband has effectively and efficiently established himself in his field. He works very hard and he’s more than worthy of where he is now. And we had always agreed that we would follow the career path of the person whose job seemed most promising and could best provide for our family. (Naively, I thought that an advanced degree in the Humanities could somehow compete with one in the Sciences and that that person could be me – ha!)

So here we are: my quest for balance is one that pushes me everyday to embrace all of the good in my life while patiently waiting for the one missing puzzle piece to fall into place. I love our life and our community and am very happy with where T’s job has landed us. It’s not where I ever imagined myself being but it’s a place that I’ve come to love and appreciate. And most of all, I love the people we’ve met here and the friendships we’ve made.

Stolen from @runbobbierun because its just too cute. I love these two. #younglove It's parks and picnics weather again! With @runbobbierun this morning.

I love that we’re able to live a simple life in the best possible meaning of that term: close to friends and neighbors with little traffic and short commute times and a whole lot of parks, green spaces, and activities for kids. I appreciate that despite it being a small city, our town boasts diverse and rich cultural events: everything from music and theater performances to a small but wonderful farmer’s market to annual art fairs to free community classes at the coop to a whole lot more. The university brings with it regular cultural events and nationally renown speakers, most of which are free to the community at large. And what we lack here we can easily find in larger urban areas such as Minneapolis or Chicago, which are only a half a day’s drive away.

Life here is pretty good and finding balance – in the traditional sense of the term –  in such a family friendly place is not that difficult. Most of our friends work hard but also make it a priority to spend evenings and weekends with their families and children and are actively involved in adding to our community. It’s been so (surprisingly!) easy to put together a monthly community bike ride because people here are interested in healthy, outdoorsy, family focused events. It’s also been relatively easy to fill our days with things such as our monthly toddler book club, our babysitting co-op, trips to the park with other families, and regular meet-ups at the library for story time (where I now also co-lead a monthly German story time as part of the world languages story time program).

So is it fair for me to complain that it’s still hard being a trailing spouse? Should I not admit that I struggle with where I am career-wise? That I sometimes feel lost and angry and resentful? Well, there is it. The ugly truth. Being a trailing partner – even when everything else in your life is going great and you know you have so much to feel thankful for – still sucks.

As I put in my daily time looking at job listings, polishing my resume, and crafting hopeful cover letters, I’m try to stay optimistic and patient. And I would love to hear from you if you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation – how did you resolve your trailing spouse status? How did you build a career while geographically immobile? How did you stay sane during a seemingly never ending job search? (Or, more importantly, – do you have a job for me??) 

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40 Responses to the trailing spouse

  1. This is a great post. Our circumstances are quite different because I just don’t know what I want my CAREER to be, but I can identify with having to navigate this area while being “geographically immobile” — Stephen has a great, stable teaching job, which is our state is difficult to come by. For other reasons (family with bad health, etc.) we don’t see ourselves moving anytime soon, but our area doesn’t really offer much that I would like to go after. For example, I’d love to get my MFA in creative nonfiction, but the University only offers fiction/poetry. It can be frustrating. But I am starting to just take things as they come. I feel very fortunate to have found a balance working from home (for now). Well, it isn’t always balanced. I’ve had some major projects and opportunities come my way that I’ve had to turn down, unfortunately. Yeah. I guess it’s always a struggle, but the joy is finding the happy stuff in the madness.

    • S. says:

      Ashley,

      you always strike me as doing so well with the freelancing based on what you write on your blog. I really admire your ability to write while taking care of Ada and to be financially lucrative at it!

  2. S., I feel your pain! And I know we’ve talked about this before. I’m not sure it ever gets “better,” but it definitely gets easier. I didn’t wait too long after I graduated to throw my hands up in frustration at getting an academic job. I was pretty ready and willing to work, but since we weren’t willing to move, I was stuck. So, I took a job that I was vastly overqualified for and accepted a low salary. Looking back, it gave me just the right about of breathing room to (sort of) figure things out. I met a great network of people who have helped mentor me and support me. And now, four years later, I’m right were I want to be (but never where I saw myself being). I feel like I usually have the right balance of academic endeavors and other endeavors. And because I believe so strongly in social justice, I feel fortunate that I can stay involved with organizations that are doing great work. I’ve adopted the “everything works out in the end” mantra. But it wasn’t always easy to think that when I was in the thick of being unemployed.

    Looking forward to sitting down with you in a month or so to discuss all of this in person!

  3. Becky says:

    Hi S., I don’t have any ground breaking advice, but as someone in a similar position I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading these kinds of posts. I’ve just arrived in the US to accompany my fiancé who is working on his PhD. The town we live in is very small and I’ve had a hard time finding a job that I really want to do. I have an MA and I’d like to go into teaching but so far I’ve only been able to find more unskilled work. So I can definitely feel your frustration, but I guess we just have to keep on pushing and making the best of things. Hang on in there. Becky.

  4. Karen says:

    S,
    I also don’t have any ground-breaking advice, but I do have a lot of empathy and like Becky I really appreciate the opportunity to read these posts. My spouse and I are also both PhDs, and like you, I moved to his city of employment in order to finish writing up (I defend next month). He’s got a pretty good job in a part of the country where we would love to stay, near family and friends (well, he would be OK moving but he’s also happy to stay here). I’ve had little success on the market this year in part because I was only applying locally so I’m not sure what my life will look like after this semester ends.
    The thing is, in our case, we’re both technically willing to move and will probably both be on the market next year in the hope that we both find employment (or can be hired via spousal hire…if that’s actually a real possibility and not just a pipe dream). But his well-established career in the sciences certainly trumps my fledgling career ambitions in the social sciences, plus we hope to have another child soon and how will we factor a newborn and a toddler into the lives of two working parents? I have one potential job on the plate but can’t take it because of the logistical difficulties (it requires teaching nights/weekends), and it’s hard not to feel frustrated that my ambitions are overshadowed.
    I think what has helped me so far, as others have written, is being able to teach myself to start letting go a bit of what I *think* I want and look more broadly at options that will let me use my skills in an interesting way, and still be able to have some sort of balance in my life. I’ve really started to question that possibility with a dual academic career. There is a lot of flexibility, yes – but really, not a lot of down time (at least not where spouse is employed).

  5. Susan K says:

    I also enjoy reading these posts. I am on the other side of this dilemma. My career is hardly “flourishing” but I am doing well enough that tenure and promotion are quite likely (in our expensive city with a relatively modest salary). My husband was ABD and adjuncting, but we decided (with our son on the way- less than 5 weeks left) that as he was making little progress, that he would put the dissertation on hold (although he could always reapply to finish) and focus on doing freeland editorial work while adjuncting, giving him more flexibility and opportunity to bring in income, but still do quite a lot of parenting. I sometimes have a lot of guilt and plan to go on the market eventually, because I’d like to negotiate something more permanent or steady in terms of his teaching (he has taught literature and composition courses for almost 10 years now), but it’s not the best market for a pretty specialized social science PhD, and we would have to sacrifice something we might regret to make the move. (I like my colleagues, we like our NYC, our students, our community here, we are looking forward to exploring all the great things this city offers to our son, etc.) So it’s a tough call.
    Many of my friends who have successfully navigated this dual academic career path have sacrificed other things. For example, they were separated for more than a few years in different institutions (or having ridiculously long commutes!) in order to build up resumes and find jobs togehter, thus delaying many things (like having kids, buying a house, etc.) When I hear of the challenges other couples have (who look so ideal on the outside), I realize that what we have is also very great, just different. So I think ultimately we can’t have everything, but we can probably navigate our series of un-ideal choices in away that eventually makes sense and fufills our values and our needs.
    Anyway, good luck navigating these goals of creating more of a career identity, in balance of a personal identity. I think it’s a challenge that we all face, no matter where we are in our professional and personal lives!

    • S. says:

      I agree, a lot of the dual-career / dual-academic couples I know who are both making it work seem to be living apart and having to make a fair amount of sacrifices in their personal lives. To be honest, I’d rather sacrifice my career than my peronal life at this point but I say that after having spent 4+ years long distance while we were both doing PhD work at different institutions (in different states) and one year while I was in Germany conducting research. So I guess we already put in our time apart and now I really just want to have a home, a family, our time with C…

      I guess no path is perfect, right?

  6. Cleo says:

    Well, I only know two academic couples who managed to make a double career in academia work: in one case, the partners had to accept living separately for several years (I know several other people who are on that track, but they’re still at the separation stage, so we’ll see if they can make it work); in another case, one managed to find a position at the institution the other was post-doc-ing, after he had followed her there. Now they’re unsure whether she’ll manage to get a local job after her post-doc, but for now they are publishing and successful, so I’ll count that one a win for now.
    As a graduate student in the early stages of her program, I think of this a lot. It seems so unfair that extreme geographic flexibility has become a standard requirement in our profession. My husband and I have limited geographical mobility for other reasons (he is not in academia), and I have already decided that I’d rather leave academia than betray those other commitments. This casts a different light on the whole PhD process, knowing that it could *not* end up being my career at all, but I’m rather glad to know to enjoy it for other reasons too–after all even if you are absolutely mobile, there are no guarantee to find a job in this market.

  7. madam0wl says:

    I suppose “trailing spouse” is a term that has been written about before but it’s a first for me to see and I totally get it. It has now been 5 years since I got my Master’s and I’m still trailin’ it, but getting gradually more and more OK with it. Maybe once the kids are older I’ll pursue more of a career, or more education… or maybe before that I’ll finally get around to opening my own business. Right now I’m just taking it one day at a time and grateful for what I’ve got. Actually reading your post this morning might have been inspiration for an eCard I saw and sent this morning, to the just graduated me of 5 years ago. The gist of it was that I’m finally realizing I’m a lot happier now than I was then.

  8. Jane W. says:

    Hi S,
    I’m not an acacademic but I can relate to your situation. I’ve “trailed” behind my spouse to two cities in 16 years, both times leaving behind jobs that were the best I could find in the area, but either not stable enough (looming acquisitions) or lucrative enough (non-profit work) to justify staying put.

    Now my husband has a job that will likely be his “last” before we retire. At age 44, I’m getting ready to leave my job to be home with our daughter, who will be in middle school. The unknowns are scary, and the fact that society values paid work above all makes me feel sheepish about my decision.

    I so appreciate you sharing your perspective. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  9. Tracey says:

    I followed you from your previous blog because I enjoyed the writings of yourself and your collaborators on academia and women/mothers. I am about 15-20 years older than you and past your stage in life, but can relate to your story. I left grad school with an M.S. rather than a PhD for multiple reasons, but not least to become a trailing spouse, with children following soon after. I found my solution at a community college as an adjunct which eventually, after many years, led to a tenure-track position (and later tenure) at that college. But it was not without a lot of struggle and angst and worry about whether my choices were helping or hindering mine and my family’s future. I am not in my dream job, but I am very satisfied with how things turned out as I get ready to watch my youngest child graduate high school. Keep looking for what works and enjoy your daughter. I think it is possible for both aspects of your life to be satisfying but things do take time to work out. Not everything will be comfortable all the time.

  10. Sonja says:

    I’m in the last year of my PhD program and I’m a “trailing spouse”. My husband has a job that requires us to move internationally every 3 or 4 years. At the moment we’re at the first posting abroad. I’ve met several several older trailing spouses here, and some of them have become very bitter about their life and the opportunities they missed. It seems though that unhappy spouses are often the ones who are really passive. They don’t learn the language of their host country. They complain about not finding a job but have sent out only 1 or 2 applications in total. On the other hand I have met trailing spouses who – while sometimes feeling “lost and angry and resentful” – have managed to find interesting and rewarding things to do wherever they went. (Just like the wonderful activities that you organize in your communities.) Sure, they have to make compromises and they usually don’t have the carreers they could have. But they seem happy nonetheless, because they have found the right balance for themselves. So I try to see these active and positive women as my role models.

    • S. says:

      Sonja,

      that’s such a good observation! I do agree that making a place your own by finding your own role/place in that city is so important to not feeling like you’re just an accessory to the spouse that brought you there. For me, even when I haven’t found the career I’d like, having made connections in the community and having become involved with local events has made a big difference in feeling like this was a place that I was tied to as well. Regardless of my husband’s role here. I think making the most of a situation even when not ideal goes such a long way in staying sane and happy.

  11. Mia says:

    I agree, this is a tough situation. After all you invested so much in your education. So it is hard to consider giving up some of your dreams. As some others already wrote, I saw a lot of couples in which one person was limiting their career to support their partners career.
    Like you I am still trying to establish a career after my PhD and although I know there are a lot of alternative ways, I am worried that if I give up my dreams, I might end up being frustrated at some point.

    • S. says:

      Mia, I completely symphathize. For me, it’s been a matter of redefining what my dreams are: less concrete, to-do lists of sorts and more general: find contentment in my family and community, feel valued in the work I do, find work that is intellectually stimulating and uses my skills (whatever that may be), and stay healthy, fit, active, etc etc. I think it helps to think more broadly about what I want my life to look like and focus less on specific ways in which I want to reach those dreams. Sometimes it’s really hard to be open to the unknown but it can also prove to be the most rewarding path in the end.

      • Mia says:

        Just wanted to give a little update. After month and month of job applications, things finally worked out. Guess patients is just one of the important things you need in the end.

  12. Bettina says:

    I also can’t really say anything to make you feel better, except that like so many others I know how tough it is to make a dual career work. I’m actually not trailing at all, but this means that my partner and I are a seven-hour train ride apart and have been for one and a half years now. Sadly, no end of this situation is in sight, he needs to finish some projects (read: publish some papers) before he can move away, and even then it’s far from guaranteed he’ll get a job where I’m living.
    I know I’d probably regret this forever, but sometimes I actually consider whether I wouldn’t be happier becoming a “trailing” spouse and giving up my career just to be living together again (the grass is always greener on the other side, hey?). I don’t mean to whinge, just to say that if both partners are highly educated and want a career in their field, unless they’re both medical doctors or teachers, I think this is very difficult. Unfortunately most of the time you’re left with two choices: one of you “trailing”, or living apart. Neither is great, and both can be extremely frustrating.

    P.S. Also, I love the combination of issues you write about on your blog. Please keep it up! I find it really inspiring.

    • S. says:

      Hi Bettina,

      thanks for chiming with with another perspective to all of this! I can really relate and sympathize – T and I were a 6/7 hr drive apart for the first three years of our PhD work and then on different continents when I went for my research year in Germany. We also spent some time apart before starting our PhD work while I was in Ohio and he was working in Mississippi! So we’ve been there! It’s really hard even when you know you’re doing the right thing for both of you at the time.

      For us, after about 5 yrs apart, it was time to move together and start a family. It was an easy decision because it felt right to both of us and neither one had to talk the other into it. It just was what had to happen. And sometimes I do wonder about what it would have been like if I hadn’t moved to where he was and finished my diss from afar and then continued to follow his career path. I guess there will always be those “what if” questions. But there’s no saying that I would have not had regrets on that path or that it would have worked out any better for me career wise since the job market in the Humanities is what it is.

      I wish you both the best as you figure this out and navigate this difficult situation!

  13. Desiree says:

    I certainly empathize with your situation. It seems as if you love living in your area, which is very positive. I don’t think you’ve mentioned if your husband is a faculty member or a post-doc (I am in the humanities, not the sciences, so I’m not sure how that works there). You have probably already investigated this, but see if your husband can ask his colleagues if the university does partner hires (perhaps this would only work if your husband is a faculty member). This is an unknown quantity even if the university is in favor of this, because they may not have a space for you, but it does not hurt to be informed. If the university has a history of partner hires a dept in the humanities may be able to review your file, interview you, have you give a job talk, etc, and vote on your case.
    Conversely, you could go on the job market this fall and see if you can negotiate a partner hire for your husband if you manage to get a position. This is an even more unknown quantity and you might well not want to move, especially if your husband’s current position is better than what he might be offered.
    All of this is stressful because it is so up in the air, but at least you can inform yourself!

    • S. says:

      Hi Desiree,

      thanks for your comment! My husband is actually a govt scientist now. He’s no longer with the university here. After he graduated, he got a govt post-doc and then just this past January was really fortunate to be hired as a permanent scientist with the govt facility here in town. It’s a really great position with awesome benefits and one we’re really happy he has. But that means no spousal hiress (and yes, I’m pretty sure that those still happen at our university here, I know of a few couples who have nagotiated these).

      • Desiree says:

        Ok, I see. Well, speaking as someone who is a faculty member in the humanities and who also has many friends who are faculty in the sciences, I know that they have options to work in private industry and government that we do not. As you know these jobs often pay more though there are trade-offs that make university employment more desirable for some in the sciences.
        Either way, it is great that you are both so happy with his position and with your life in Iowa. For you, keep on writing. If you feel a true passion for teaching, community college or high school might be an option. And keep looking at the MLA job list, you never know!

  14. e says:

    I moved to the mid-west so my husband could go to graduate school (MFA). I’ve got a PhD in a modern language. To support us and to diversify my skills, I got a job in administration working in student development. I get to teach (though not in my language) and engage with students every day. I do plenty of writing and editing (though, again, not in my field), which keeps me pretty happy. It’s a great thing to love my job. Whenever we move next, I’ll be able to find a job in administration (or, if I’m really lucky, my field). This has the added benefit of supporting our family.

    I suppose that I’m technically a trailing spouse. But by reconsidering everything that my training taught me, we found a path that works for both of us.

    • S. says:

      That’s wonderful, e! I have applied for several admin jobs at the university this Spring but unfortunately nothing has worked out. I would be happy to move into administration and to use my academic skills in that capacity. I’m still looking so maybe something will work out. I definitly agree that that is a great way to stay in a related field while being more flexible work wise and making a geographically limited situation work.

      • e says:

        I’m happy to talk off the blog if you’d like. Since I work with grad students on preparing for alt-ac, it’s right up my alley.

        e

        • simplybike says:

          thanks, that would be great! You can contact me at simplybike At gmail whenever you get the chance! I would certainly appreciate any thoughts, advice, tips, etc!

          • Dheeraj says:

            empirical truth, which is only a small proiton of truth. This is nonsense. The only things that matter are what can be proved to be likely or reliably demonstrated to be useful. The fantasies of the metaphysical are of no use in understanding the world around us.No one needs to explain anything to you, because no one worships Harris, and your only counter point is illogical nonsense about unseen unknowable somethings that we can’t demonstrate with science.

      • Mia says:

        I followed the admin path too. I have the feeling that people tend to thing it would be easier to get an admin rather than a teaching job. But I experienced it to be even more difficult. But I am also have a different background than you.
        To be honest, I think an admin/science management job would be totally fine for me. But in this case I would expect that I could handle it like a 9 to 5 job and have the chance for a private life too.
        I know we have to be patient. Thing will not fall into place within days. Maybe it will require month of hard work and not giving up. But many people had to follow that route. Some of my colleagues had to apply for more than a year to get a tenure position. But I can say that all of those, who didn’t give up on their dreams, were the ones who succeeded in the end.

  15. Nadine says:

    My dear S, I’m here out of affection. :) I don’t know you at all, really, but all the way through Academichic and now here on Simply Bike, I continue to be charmed by your intelligence and thoughtfulness. (And your gorgeous wee daughter!) I’m 40 and my kids are 10 and 13, and although I’m not aligned with the ‘academic’ portion of your life, I have done the whole family/work/partner balancing act (still doing it right now!).

    I have a couple of things I’d like to suggest – please accept them as coming from a ‘place of love’! I’m conscious that these are very personal issues. :)

    I loved being a full-time mum to preschoolers. It’s the best job I’ve ever had, and when my youngest started school I felt like I’d been fired from my job and I GRIEVED. (I chose to limit the size of my family due to my horror pregnancies). Is it possible for you to let go of the career search for a few years and just enjoy mothering your daughter? Cliché time: They’re little for such a short time! I know it’s not for everyone, but oh my god I LOVED it. I was heavily involved in Playcentre, which is a New Zealand parent-led co-operative early childhood education provider. The things you do with the baby book club and the Kidical Mass rides all seem to be similar to the kinds of things I used to do.

    The second point is: have you considered going into business for yourself? I’m a trained high school teacher with a double-major degree in NZ History and Shakespeare . . and now I’m a ballet teacher! Not the most obvious career trajectory, but everything I did has ended up being a stepping stone to something else and now here I am. You are fortunate to have a financially secure partner, so can you try using your skills in different ways and combining your motherhood life-stage with your background in languages? (The German-language library programme sounds VERY interesting!) As a self-employed business owner, I’ve found the online advice of Penelope Trunk, Seth Godin and the Blogcademy headmistresses to be absolutely invaluable.

    What ever happens, I’m sure I’ll continue to read your blog. (Could you perhaps monetise your blog?) Much love, honey! xox :)

    • S. says:

      Thanks, Nadine, I really appreciate your comments ever since back in the day at academichic :) And I certainly agree that this time will pass so quickly and I ty to savor it as much as possible. But with my personality, it seems like I really also crave interraction outside the home/parenting dept and am happier when I can have a mix of both.

      I have thought about trying to do something on my own but I just don’t have the financial flexibility to start something up and I also don’t have that amazing idea just waiting to be turned into a business…maybe down the road though… a colleague and I always joke that we need a good German brew pub in town with an outdoor Biergarten :)

  16. Mama Bicycle says:

    Hi
    I also read this post, but half of it because I have to get back to work. And forgive me not to read other’s comments too. But, I would like to leave a brief comment. Of course, I can’t be a training spouse at all, but you are struggling to be what you hope to be. In general, and compared to normal women who always tap their fingers on their smart phones or just always talking subtle things, I think it’s a preferable aspect. On the other hand, almost all people tend to give up keeping the same custom which they once decided to do, it’s a shame to you. Thank you.

    • Bheiby says:

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  17. Moira says:

    The “trailing spouse” role is a very emotional position to be in…my husband is an AF pilot, so we move every few years. I’ve been amazingly lucky to find positions in my field (archives) at the last 3 assignments since I finished grad school, but they haven’t been a typical career progression. Our current base is so rural that I have no chance of finding a position and so I’m staying home with our preschool-age boys. I wonder, though, if there will be a career for me to go back after several years out of work, or even if archives will be what I want to go back to at that point. I find that I feel both sad and satisfied at the chance to be home with the boys, usually multiple times a day! I know that I need to do a better job of pursuing things that still challenge and engage me to help keep this in balance, and that is something I am working on. None of this was very helpful advice, but know that you aren’t alone, and as someone else said-we will find the right path eventually!

    • S. says:

      Thanks, Moira, your comment is really comforting to me. It voices so many of my fears and concerns – it’s always nice to hear one is not alone!

  18. Dave says:

    There is this thing we get in our heads – we often think that because someone else’s problems or situations are worse than our own, we should just buck up and pretend that our situation is perfectly fine. We do this with our own personal situations, and with societal issues (for instance, people sometimes get irate about Portland being criticized with regard to cycling, because *it’s so much worse elsewhere*).

    But the reality is, each person has their own individual struggles, and no matter how relatively bad they are, they are valid struggles, and in order to move past them, you have to admit to them, admit that you struggle with them, and then, realizing where you are, take a step forward.

    Living a life where you continually deny your own emotions and struggles because someone else must have it worse than you is living a life that never goes anywhere.

    So, by all means, feel what you feel, be honest about it, and then decide where you need to go from there. We’ll all be here to cheer you on :)

  19. Ruth says:

    I wanted to give an emphatic YES in response to this question: “Do I even have anything of value to add on the topic of academic motherhood now that I’m barely making a career in that field…?”

    Because academic motherhood – especially as a trailing spouse with a Ph.D in the Humanities – is extremely difficult. I do NOT need to hear another story about how it all fell together miraculously well for someone. This is not what happens for most people. Most people have to figure it out, and piece it together, and it’s hard. And I so appreciate your honesty on this point.

    • Mia says:

      Yes, I constantly hear these stories how people got a job offer from someone they met by chance. And then they advice me that good connections are crucial. Well, I lived for 5 years in another country so I have only very few connections in the country I live now. So does this mean that most job are already given to internal candidates and only advertised because laws require this?
      So I don’t think it will “fall miraculously well for me” and I will need to work hard to make it happen. I am applying for almost everything possible since 8 months and it really sucks to get one rejection after the other. Yes, I really start to loose hope but staying in bed all day will not make it any better.

  20. Bex says:

    Thanks for writing this! I am in this situation, too. My baby is 19 months old, and I’m ready to work, but I can’t find anything! I’ve been looking for work in my town for five years now without luck. I didn’t think this would be my path (I have an MS), but a series of poor choices on little things, plus bad luck has left me here. I look forward to reading the other comments on this post for inspiration. I am just so angry that this is a predominantly female problem!

  21. Rita says:

    Gosh, do I relate to this post! I sometimes do resent the fact that we had to move to New Zealand. This is mostly because I am pretty sure that, had I not left England, my academic career would be flourishing. I would have not left my research centre or stopped the promising work I started with my PhD. I miss my academic dream terribly and am trying to find ways to keep it alive. I just had my Viva last week, 5 months after submitting and 4 months after getting my current job in local government governance support. While this is a secure position, with a reasonably good salary and good benefits, my trip to England last week reminded me of what I’m missing! I have enough material to stay academically alive in the next couple of years, but this situation isn’t ideal. I want to teach and research and develop my academic career but the effort to establish myself in NZ is looking too great, particularly when I think it would mean I would leave the security of my new job for the uncertainties of academia! I don’t know, sometimes I wonder if I’m desperately trying to hold on to a dream that no longer fits my life. I did put family and personal life first so obviously, in reality, I have different priorities. Perhaps what I liked was the idea of an academic career and that is now in the past. Perhaps I should learn to reassess my goals and adjust my dreams to where I want to go from where I am now, and not from 10 years ago! I don’t know the answers…but it was great that you wrote this post and made me think about it all!

  22. Hildegarde says:

    Asking questions are in fact fastidious thing if you are not
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