I am the trailing spouse able to impersonate a chameleon by altering my situation to suit our family status. Sometimes my camouflage doesn’t work too well and the walls fall down around us. Before I had children change was easy as it was only my mind I had to contend with, but after having children there are three little people and my hubby all trying to adapt as well.
When I started the PhD it was prior to the birth of our third child. I had two children so I figured the change would be fine. Four weeks after beginning the PhD I was pregnant and content. Morning sickness made writing the proposal hard but we were settled in Adelaide with no intention to move until the PhD was finished. I had chosen an intensive field based project knowing we were living near my study sites.
My proposal was finished, I had scored a wildfire to study, grants had been obtained and my thesis was cruising until the move was announced. We were relocating to Wollongong (1365km away). I loved the beach, we were moving near my family and back to the land of bubblers but it was so hard to change.
The first whack of disappointment was the altering childcare options. We were going from a preschool where it cost AUS$50 for ten weeks to AUS$36 a day or the uni day-care option at $76 a day. Not to mention I couldn’t get into the preschool for 6 months. We rented for six months in a tiny hot house with no air-conditioning. I no longer had my network of parent friends and felt rather isolated. As a remote Adelaide university student I was meant to become part of the Wollongong uni community but as room was scarce I was better off at home.
Field work was a nightmare. I had to fly interstate each time leaving my family behind. At one stage my hubby was overseas, Mum had breast cancer and my Dad came to help. I flew out at 4am in the morning, spent a day in the field, slept on my work colleagues floor then flew back early the next morning. All in the name of “science”. Needless to say the data from that day of work was lost in the land of computer crashes. I flew back many times and the tears often rolled as I saw my old life and compared it to my new home.
It’s now been nearly four years and the change has been great. I love the Gong and our lifestyle is wonderful. Mum has beaten breast cancer for the second time. The PhD is still not finished but the hurdles caused by the change are an acceptable excuse for the delay. Trouble is if I keep using change as an excuse I’ll never finish this PhD! Change is a constant that will throw hurdles and provide wonderful opportunities. I guess the trick is to take the ride, smile and have fun.