I just wanted to say a quick thank you. Your insights and comments have been so helpful today for me and in my talks with DH. I have so many specific comments I will make later but it’s been a crazy night. So in the meantime I just wanted to say thanks once again to MotherTalkers for all your support and advice. Thanks.
As I mentioned in the morning thread, I found out this morning that I got the post-doc I applied for. It’s an awesome fit for me – great research opportunities, wonderful group of people, and fantastic reputation. It would be a huge career opportunity. It’s also an hour from my parents and I would love being close to them. I also know that they would love being close to us – especially the kids. I really wanted this but didn’t expect to get it so I was really surprised and excited to find out I did get it. Getting this is probably the career achievement I am most proud of – it’s based on the research I’ve done for my PhD that is in an area I am passionate about and really reflects my thoughts and ideas. And I busted my butt to do it all
Unfortunately my potential best of times is perfectly aligned with DH’s worst of times and I’m really struggling with what to do and how to manage this.
DH is also an academic. He’s currently in a post-doc – a norm for his field. His field is not a “rich” field and so has been really impacted by the bad economy. Two years ago there were 25 job positions, this year there were 5. He applied for jobs this year and didn’t get any. After conversations with a few people it seems like he could work really hard and be in a good position for next year. And he needs to network and shmooze more… But there’s still clearly risk and uncertainty. And if I take the post-doc he’d still have to come to Chicago (about a 4 hour drive) for 3 days a week. Clearly this would be a difficulty for both of us.
DH had been talking about looking for an industry job. That would be difficult with me taking the post-doc – there’s not much in that area and DH doesn’t want to commute for 5 days a week (which I understand as I wouldn’t want to either). I had thought the talk about industry was more a “if this doesn’t work out” thing because I think we’d probably both have to do industry or both try academia for now. I have a consulting option but I’m not ready to take it. I’m terrified about tenure track and the program I’m in right now has all kinds of issues, but I came back to school to try the academic route and I feel like I haven’t closed the doors yet. I like teaching. I enjoy research. Not too fond of writing, but it’s getting better. I think I’m good at it and could make strong contributions.
DH loves what he does and I think that’s what makes this harder. If there was one of us who I’d say was made for academia, it’s DH. And now he’s looking at his PhD and post-doc (almost 9 years total now…) not leading to the job he wants. Because of the economy. And probably because he’s not in the social network as much because he has family stuff. (Personally I think that’s why he didn’t get a job this year – because of a networking/boys club type thing.) He’s devastated. And I don’t know what to do.
We had a huge fight about the post-doc around Christmas and talked through a lot of concerns – mostly around him needing to commute. We’d really I think come to agreement that I’d have to negotiate a couple things with the post-doc and he’d make some changes with work and that taking the post-doc would be the best thing to do if I got it. When I first told him about the post-doc today he was happy for me and congratulatory.
He had a call with someone in his field this afternoon that didn’t go well – lots of uncertainty for the job market next year. Uncertainty on whether or not he could stay in a post-doc for 2 more years to align with mine (this is new uncertainty as earlier we were under the impression this was not a problem). And ideas about what he should do that entail a lot of work (and he already does a lot of work). He’s hurt and angry and should be. The whole thing sucks – his field and the way the job market is done and the economy.
So tonight he was upset. If I take the post-doc he can’t really go for an industry job – at least not yet. If I take the post-doc there’s a chance that we’d move next year (to the post-doc) and then the following year or in another 2 years (to the future faculty jobs). He’s concerned this wouldn’t be best for the kids – he moved a lot as a kid and didn’t like it. And deep down, the fear and anger is that he might not be able to do what he loves. And that really has nothing to do with my post-doc. But I had a huge success at the same time that he had a huge disappointment. And I don’t think either of us know how to deal with this.
Have you been in a similar situation? Do you have any ideas for what I can do? How can I help DH? I feel like my best of times are making his worst of times even worse and that breaks my heart. He’s so sad and angry and I want to help. I’d love any suggestions you have.
*** Update 2/20 ***
First, I want to thank you all again – your ideas and suggestions and support have been so helpful. I’ve re-read your comments many times as we’ve gone through this. I think we have some closure and thought I’d share.
Thursday was a day of panic. I had a call with people at the post-doc and it seemed like the post-doc would be at risk for me if I could be there for only a year (which is what DH and I thought it would need to be to work for him). This led to lots of panicked phone calls between DH and I and our respective faculty. And we learned a few things and figured out a few things and the main takeaway is that the situation will work for both of us with a 2 year post-doc. From the perspective of us both getting tenure track jobs eventually, the post-doc for 2 years rather than 1 will actually likely work better for us. It will be better and easier for me. DH will definitely be commuting for ~3 days a week next year and likely the following year. He’s not excited about it and is still upset about the how everything worked in his field this year. But, me taking the post-doc provides the best chance of us figuring this out so that we can both be tenure track… at some time I formally accepted the post-doc yesterday.
And while DH is on board he’s not excited so I’m tempering my excitement around him. But, I’m so excited We know where we’re going to live (it’s actually the house we owned when we first got married and when Mira was born, then sold to my parents when I came to grad school, DB2’s been living there but is moving to New York City…). And now I need to figure out schools and day cares and… Yay Thanks again for everything!