An unexpected motivator

Today was productive in many ways. I:

  • Changed a future hair appointment time
  • Booked a teeth cleaning
  • Bought plane tickets to Vancouver to present at a conference
  • Made sweet potato apple puree, melt-in-your-mouth chicken, broccoli, and mushrooms and spinach for dinner
  • Took Mom to the doctor to make sure she isn’t dying (she didn’t think she was, nor did I, but always good to be sure)
  • Shoveled
  • Swam a half mile
  • Bought printer ink
  • Conducted another search on English literature curriculum

I had a few more items on my list that I didn’t accomplish, namely more dissertation-related tasks, but all in all, not bad for a snow day.

Most importantly, I learned who motivates me to finish this work: Avery.

Now, to be fair, several people are in my corner rooting for me to get through this program. You know who you are, but to give a couple shout-outs, my husband is unbelievably understanding and supportive and encouraging. Maybe if he were threatening to divorce me unless I finished, I’d be done by now.

But probably not.

My mother has also been asking me about my work quite regularly, especially since my dad kicked the bucket and I hit an academic wall as a result. In fact, she cried when I told her a few years ago that I was going to drop out of the program (clearly I did not).

There are others, too, but the person whose few comments have made the most impact on me is my daughter. Up until this point, she has been relatively silent about the whole Ph.D. thing. She knows I have to go to BC for meetings and I have a lot of “BC work” (mostly for a research team I am on, unrelated to dissertation work), but it has only been recently that she seems to “get” what it’s all for. Overhearing conversations between me and Brendan, she has put it together. She wants me to become a “Doctor.” She asked if all her friends will have to call me “Dr. McEachern.” Then today she egged me on by saying, “If I had to write a dissertation, I could do it in two weeks.” When I jokingly replied, “Oh no you didn’t!” she said, “You just got schooled by a 9 year old.”

Why do her words carry so much weight?

Maybe it is because I don’t feel I can give excuses to her, especially since the time I am devoting to this is time I am not devoting to her. When she asks if I worked on my dissertation, I don’t want to tell her I played Sudoku for 2 hours, and I will not lie to her.

Maybe it is because my daughter is an improved version of me, and I aspire to be like her. She is focused and brave and inquisitive.

Maybe it is because I see her mimicking me, and I want to give her something worth mimicking.

I hope she will grow up thinking she can do whatever she wants to do. I’ll tell her later that this is true only if she has a supportive network behind her.

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One thought on “An unexpected motivator

  1. Joan Pesola says:

    I am crying tears of joy that you have found a replacement motivator in Avery! I knew you had lost your drive when you lost your Dad, the person who gave you the fire to achieve great things. I am so happy and proud of you for finding your way again. I knew you could do it. Love you

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