So, the big day finally happened. I defended my dissertation. Everything aligned so that my parents were visiting when my husband had a two-day fall "break," and off we went to Ohio. The drive out went well; we drove part way to Cleveland where we stayed overnight with my in-laws and woke up on Monday morning early and were out the door by about 7:30. We had some time on campus, since the defense was scheduled for 5-8 p.m. And everything went just fine. I was pretty relaxed and calm, and my committee members were very congenial. Some good friends made it to the defense, and I was really happy that at least Jeff and baby Robert were there with me. Afterwards, we went to Graeter's for some ice cream. By that time I was a little tired and talked out, so I wouldn't say I was great company...and of course Robert woke up and was running around trying to destroy all the shop's displays.
I think Jeff and I were both feeling grateful and relieved by the time we got Robert back to sleep at the hotel and fell into bed ourselves. It was a little surreal, actually, knowing that my defense...long awaited (four years of dissertating!)...had finally passed.
It was also a little surreal when at 4:00 a.m. Robert vomited all over me and the hotel bed. Well, no, actually it wasn't so much surreal as very real, in a smelly, sticky sort of way. By the time I had showered, and we cleaned Robert up, we had to make a decision: lay in a vomitous bed trying to keep a completely awake baby quiet while he crawled all over us, or get an early start to the day. We had hoped to catch the 7:00 a.m. Marianist community Mass, breakfast at Panera and head out around 8:00. Instead, we opted for the 4:30 a.m. departure. Anyway, we were excited at the prospect of making it home in time to see Patrick on his third birthday.
(Above, Prince Patrick Sir Superhero in his UD shirt with sword)
And, in fact, we did make it home by about 3:00... after about 11 hours driving and nine baby vomits. Robert being sick meant that he slept much of the journey, except when he woke up to vomit some more (fortunately my parents keep a handy towel in their Prius that we were driving).
We walked in the front door a bit tired, but enjoyed watching Patrick open his gifts. After a pizza dinner and some cake, we put the kids to bed and the tired parents both fell asleep around 8:30 p.m.
Then, at midnight...surprise! Robert vomited on me again! After taking twelve hours off of vomiting, he was back at it..think garlic bread and pizza. So I had to wake up Jeff so we could change the king sized bed and hose down Robert, and I had to take a shower again too. Jeff rocked Robert to sleep and put him in his crib this time. I went back to bed. Then, at 2:00 a.m., Jeff woke me up: "Patrick just vomited all over the bed!" And of course Eva was in the same bed, having given hers up for my parents. So I transferred Eva to our bed and got to work changing Patrick's set of sheets while this time Jeff took a shower and cleaned up Patrick.
And at 6:00 a.m. all four kids were awake for the day, and I was back to my usual duties of making breakfast, packing lunch, changing diapers (I could give details to add drama to the story but I won't), etc.
So if you want to know how I celebrated defending my dissertation, that's the story. It's good having kids. They keep you grounded and prevent you from taking yourself too seriously. They provide a larger perspective than an isolated academic world might imply. They make theology so practical. It's not just about reading, writing, and debating, but also about living...with people... and sometimes those people vomit on you in the middle of the night.