In 2008, my mom’s health was failing and my folks had asked if my sister and her family would move closer to them in our hometown in NC to help out. At the time I was living in Philadelphia trying to finish my dissertation. My sister lived in the next town over and so they were open to moving closer by to my parents.
Once my sister and her family moved to our home town she began to suggest that I come live with her and her family, help out with our mom and also have the opportunity to save money and complete my dissertation. I was doing everything but finishing it. Anyone who likes Philadelphia knows there are 100 ways to distract yourself in the music, art and theater scene there.
What was supposed to be 6 months of wrapping up my dissertation turned into 3 years. We all felt a bit like Dallas with grown siblings living under one roof. Jock and Miss Ellie, however, were about a 20 minute drive away in a retirement community.
I was ashamed that it took me so long to finish my doctoral degree (6 years total) AND that I was living with my family for three years to do it. I’ve been thinking about this lately though-why should this be shameful? Is there a way I could have seen this time as living with my own research think tank around me ie. my family members? What if everyone saw their family and/or friends as a research think tank that guided them throughout their doctoral degree? Could this be seen as a smart move by involving a whole family in the completion of a program? I know lots of students, included myself, saw their family and friends as crucial supports while they were in school and I wonder how we could take this idea further…