Tomorrow Chris will board a bus with his backpack, laptop and the lunch that I just packed him and will fly up the highway to Marquette where he will begin his (our) journey towards his PhD, three not so little letters that will go behind his name.
The feeling is unmistakable: pride.
I get the impression that I have joined an elite club, “spouses of PhD students,” and the membership rules of the club are elusive and ever-changing. So far it has been explained to me as two years of course work, two years of student teaching and then the dissertation, a word I can’t even type without cringing. It has also been explained to me as a degree with varied course work, feast and famine deadlines and, in the words of a woman whose husband is writing his dissertation, “you get to know which coffee shops are open past midnight so you can pick him up from the library with a coffee in the cup holder.”
Chris joined an elite club too; the welcome packet for the “PhD student” club is thicker and bolder than my own, the expectations, more intense. I think he knows what to expect a little more, having completed two masters, but I gather the stakes are higher now as the goal isn’t not only about learning as much as you possibly can but about also about cultivating relationships with professors and other scholars and building a portfolio (if you will, I’m not sure what it is called) for a future job. And I am sure being married changes the dynamic of a student’s life more than just a little bit.
And I am proud. Proud of my husband. Proud to be part of this new club.
But there are other feelings too: Excitement for the experiences that are coming, and that Chris can do something that he loves. Gratitude for the first seven months of our marriage before we joined our respective clubs, embarking on this adventure. And a little bit of anxiety as we both learn our new roles for this stage.
I am also hopeful ... hopeful that we will learn how to live and love more completely. Hopeful that we will learn and grow in the challenges.
Hopeful that this time will refine as much as define us.