On February 14th (Valentine's Day!), 1997, I turned in the final paperwork for my Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan.
Obviously, I still remember the date. My defense was exactly a month earlier, on January 14th, 1997. I haven't forgotten that date either.
I was very driven academically as a teen and 20 something. I fully intended to be a single career woman until God intervened and brought Kevin into my life. He was in graduate school with me. He became a Christian in late 1996, started attending our church within weeks, we began courting, and we were married June 1997.
So, quite the romantic whirlwind :-).
Kevin is younger than I am and thanks to co-oping as an undergraduate, he was 3 years behind me in graduate school. So while he finished up, I worked as a staff member at the University of Michigan in the Materials Science Department. It was a great job for me. I got teach a little, fix instruments (not always my easiest thing, I admit), and help with the labs.
Kevin finished his degree in September of 1999. I was pregnant with our eldest at the time, and we moved down to Ohio so Kevin could begin working at Wright Patterson Air Force base. He was part of a program where the Air Force paid for his Ph.D., and he was obligated to work for them for 15 years!
We had already decided that I would be a stay at home mother to Naomi. That was a decision based on a number of things. We could do it; Kevin made enough to support us. We knew that even as DINKs (Double Income, No Kids) that with both of us working full time, life was busy. Add a kid to the mix, and we would get super busy.
And I wanted to be at home with our baby. Kevin wanted me at home with our baby. I am not someone who trusts easily, and I really wanted to be the one providing primary care for our little one(s).
Given that I did have a Ph.D. in engineering, it seemed reasonable to look for some part time work. For a few years (through the births of our first three children), I taught the occasional engineering class at a local university. Then in 2003, Kevin heard that there might be an opening at the base where he works. I went in and interviewed and got a job with a contractor on a very part time basis. The original plan was one day a week. I've been there 15 years now (15 years!) and now I work 4 to 5 hours a week!
It's a crazy situation and I feel very blessed. I keep a foot in my field but I'm home with the children almost all the time. I bring in a little income, which is helpful with 9 kids. My job has been very patient with me with frequent absences for new babies, and I was gone for 2 months earlier this year because of the hysterectomy.
Since I was 44 when Rose was born, I'll be 62 when she graduates from high school. That's a reasonable retirement age. All this is to say I doubt I'll ever work full time. I'm homeschooling the horde, of course, so I have plenty to keep me busy at home.
That's my weird career story.