Friday, December 7, 2018

My Weird Career

There was a recent comment about my career, or lack thereof :-).

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.

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