Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

A novice homemaker's attempts to use her engineering Ph.D. to serve her family

In His Time

on July 9, 2012

It was the Fourth of July.  I came downstairs to send a quick e-mail to my band director explaining that I may not be able to make it to the evening municipal band concert due to our plans to visit family out of town.  As I scanned my inbox, I saw a familiar name from years ago, a fellow student of my advisor for my master’s degree.

He was writing to let me know the paper I wrote based on my thesis was accepted.  He’s been a coauthor that has done the hard work of submitting the paper to a few journals over the last few years with no success until now.

Great news, right?!  Publications seem to be what is most highly esteemed in many faculty positions.  They are required for tenure and promotion – not that those matter much to me right now while I work at home raising my girls.

I was excited, very surprised (The study was limited and includes a research method that most engineers may not understand – qualitative systematic grounded theory – simply because words (not numbers) are the data to be analyzed.), and then — stumped.  My colleague asked me to send a bio to be included with the article.

I’ve dreaded this, knowing it would come sometime, but not thinking it would be so soon.  Affiliation: __ (blank)__.  I wonder what it says to people to see my name listed as first author and no affiliation with a company or university.

I wonder what it says about me that I care.  

I wanted to make sure my qualifications gave credibility to the paper.  I wanted to sound professional.  I also wanted to make sure I could honestly and joyfully describe my current career choice.  Honestly, I wished I had started my own company – even if I didn’t accept any business – just to have a name to list, to say I was a consultant or something.   But, I haven’t started a company yet.  I don’t have a name picked out.

So, here goes:

Dana K. is a stay-at-home mother of two beautiful daughters.  She earned her Ph.D. in industrial engineering with an emphasis in quality and reliability engineering… She has taught classes in operations management and quality management at ____ University and has several years of industrial experience…  Her research interests include industrial statistics, quality engineering, Six Sigma, and service operations management.

That first sentence is not something you see in many journal article bios.  I’ve never seen it before, anyway.  I pray that it will be a testimony that shows professional women in industry and academia that they do have a choice if they want to change directions in their lives.  That choice is very hard to see sometimes, for a variety of reasons.

And my late-night pondering makes me wonder if the previous rejections of this paper and now its acceptance have a very special, strategic timing.  While I feel almost naked thinking about my name printed without an affiliation, I think God may see that front page differently.  He makes all things beautiful in His time.  And I think that blank will be beautiful to Him.


13 responses to “In His Time

  1. Marla says:

    Great post, Dana! I am struggling with the exact same issue as I am now working on some publications in my free time at home. Congrats on the publication!

    • Dana K says:

      Thanks, Marla! It’s tricky, isn’t it? I told my husband when we were fairly new friends that I didn’t see how a Ph.D. and a family would go together. But God knows. Let’s keep seeking Him and see what He’ll do with us. 🙂

  2. K says:

    Congrats! This is a hard subject for me, too. I was a professional opera singer before I became a SAHM and homeschooler to my 4 beautiful girls. I *hate* running into people from my “old life”, because they’ve said things like “You’re JUST STAYING HOME???” It stings, even though I’m completely positive that I have the better deal than some of my old professors and coaches who were approaching old age still single and with only a pile of dusty playbills to keep them company. I *know* it’s the right choice for me, but it can be hard to think of it that way, sometimes when I see those old friends who are still performing…

    • Dana K says:

      I know those feelings well. There’s no “JUST” in staying home, though, whether or not your old colleagues realize it or not. The investment you are making in the lives of your daughters is invaluable, and it is so different in our culture today that our decisions to leave professional life to stay home draw attention. While we may not see it as positive attention, and it can be so hard sometimes, it can make people think. I’m sure your decision and life with your family are a great witness to those people from your “old life.” May God use your story in powerful ways!

  3. kim says:

    Oh how I needed this today!! This afternoon I gave my notice as a Director of Nursing, just two weeks before I’ll finish my MSN! Thank you for making me feel like I have a kindred spirit!

    • Dana K says:

      Kim, I’ve been looking at your blog since you posted your comment, and it looks like we’re at nearly the same place in life! I hope we can encourage each other through the challenges we’ll undoubtedly encounter and help keep each other’s eyes fixed on Jesus. I know turning in that resignation letter is difficult. It’s been just 9 months since I made my resignation official (and a little over 6 months since I left). Be strong and ready to give an answer to the many questions you’ll likely receive. I was surprised how many people supported my decision and encouraged me. God will use you, sister, in awesome ways since you are now available. Hugs! ~Dana

      • kim says:

        It is wonderful to have encountered someone who”gets” it! But you are right, there is so much support. So excited to see where this takes us!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    This my life. Thank You so much for writing this. My exact thoughts, “I am not alone”.

  5. Belinda Letchford says:

    How great – not only to have your paper accepted but to have the opportunity to put an alternative out there. May God use your bio somehow … you never know who will read it and where they’ll be in their life.

  6. Peggy thorpe says:

    Way to go, Dana! Congratulations on so many levels, including the one that gives legitimacy to the position of mom!

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