My husband is nearing graduation from his 6 year PhD program. He's hoping to finish this spring or the end of summer at the latest. Because its not clear when he will finish, its not clear where and when we'll be going or even to what we'll be going--postdoc, job, unemployment? As the spouse of PhD candidate, I'm just waiting to hear when/where we'll be going. I used to be much more impatient about things like this and the uncertainty would be killing me. I guess I've mellowed a bit and now I'm more curious than anything else.
Everytime, my husband comes home and mentions another possibility for a job or postdoc opportunity, the first thing I do is locate the university and search for real estate nearby. I get an idea of whether or not our family would enjoy living there based on what I find. Some things I generally look at: homeschooling laws, nature attractions, access to organic and local agriculture, birth community, etc. So far I have surveyed places like Brisbane, Australia; Ithaca, New York; Provo, Utah; somewhere in Florida that I can't remember; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Humboldt, California. This is probably the most exciting and interesting part. Its fun to daydream about possibilities and exciting new adventures.
The flip-side is the fear of What if? What if he has a hard time finding a new position and we're stuck where we are? How will we get by? He'll lose his stipend Will he be able to get a job in another field when he's at the same time riducously overqualified and underqualified at the same time? Will he be able to find a position nearby so we wouldn't have to move?
Instead of making no plans, or making plans that are based on dreams, I'm trying to be practical and prepare myself for the possibility of a few months with no income. I've stock piled some food so if we have to go lean for a few months, then we're prepared in that way. I'm still planting our garden this year in hopes of getting some fresh vegetables without relying on the store. We're trying to save money where we can now so we can continue paying utilities and such.
I'm trying to grow my doula and family services business with plans to offer classes in Signing Time, and a playgroup and take a few doula clients this summer. I would really like to gain enough midwifery skills to be able to be paid as a birth assistant by the end of the summer. It will tricky to see how well that can work with a new baby. My husband and I will try our hand at equally shared parenting if this is the case. Hopefully the baby will transition between my husband and I easily enough. I've found that birth work with non-breastfeeding children works really well for an equal partnership, but breastfeeding will definitely complicate things. I'm hoping a combination of pumping and visits from baby and husband while I'm away will allow the baby to get exclusive breastmilk.
My husband's plan to bring in money and to share income requirements is to turn his woodworking and photography hobbies into an income stream. For the last year, he has been turning wooden pens and salt and pepper grinders. Next, he'll be branching out to turned wooden bowls and decorative boxes. Already there is a local retailer who would like to put his pens up for sale in her store and everything else will be put up for sale at Etsy (since Etsy is already overrun with pen turners!).
There is a part of us that kind of hopes that this is what the summer will be like but that some good opportunity will come up for fall. If we find that job sharing and childcare sharing works, excellent. We'll know that the experiment worked and its possible and if it doesn't, then we'll be back to the stereotypical world of professor husband and stay at home mom (who has her part-time work on the side).
However, the ideals of radical homemaking and equally shared parenting are providing quite the emotional comfort in this period of uncertainty. Who knows what the future will bring, but we're pretty sure that whatever it is, we'll have the skills and know-how to keep going comfortably.