Dissertation Draft Finished + Pandemic Parenting and My Body

I sent off the introduction chapter for my dissertation to my advisor a few minutes ago. I also decided to do a total page and word count for the whole thing. And while I was doing that I made the mistake of reading the comments on the methods chapter. Which are good and helpful comments and not that dramatic, but IMPOSTOR SYNDROME, am I right?

Mostly what I’m dealing with is that both of the committee members who have looked at that chapter were like “This theoretical framework part needs it’s own chapter.” It won’t actually be creating a whole chapter from scratch, but it does feel a little like it will. And so my jerk brain is like, “Why didn’t you write that? Why haven’t you done that already? Why didn’t that occur to you? UGH. Your dissertation is frivolous, thin, unimportant, has nothing to contribute, and is basically just you dicking around. You’ll graduate probably because you have a kind committee but what subpar work.”

My brain doesn’t seem to know we’re in a pandemic.

Before I go on, here are the stats: in its current iteration, my dissertation is 155 pages and 31,084 words. I started data collection in April. I went from initiating data collection to a finished draft in 6 months, working on it for half-days, while caring for my child in the morning and writing in the afternoons.

This is no small achievement, regardless of the contribution my research makes to the field.

And I simultaneously worked on my assistantship, which involved designing a semistructured interview protocol, conducting 3 interviews, and coding 14 interviews.

I had planned to start my data collection earlier. I had planned to be writing close to full-time hours, because I had expected to get a dissertation fellowship, making this a non-service year. Things have gone very differently than I planned, and I have a first draft of my dissertation to show anyway.

I may kick off my revisions with a dissertation bootcamp Jan 11 - 15. We’ll see.

Something that only occurred to me yesterday, although of course it’s been going on the whole time I’ve been a mother, is that I hold my child’s emotions in my body. So when my kid sobs three or four times in one morning and throws a couple of tantrums, I can’t just hand him off to my mother-in-law and then sit down to work. My body just won’t allow it.

Giving myself permission to recognize the impact my kid’s emotions have on my body is something I sorely needed, and I really hope it will help me moving forward.

Okay. Gonna have lunch and then maybe go to Bean Traders to get some curbside pickup “I did it!” treats.

Kimberly Hirsh @kimberlyhirsh