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I recently saw a link to this article about how students often feel pulled between their homework and housework. My first thought was, “of course I feel I am being pushed or pulled in these two directions. I’m a mom, and the housework feels unending—especially the laundry!”

My homework also feels limitless, but it’s just mine. No one else has to eat dinner prepared in my messy bibliography, let alone to find a clean outfit in my stack of library books. My dissertation homework is mine alone, which is what makes it so fun but also impossible to prioritize.

Add to this the fact that my spouse’s work is connected to a whole community of people who all have a stake in his success. There’s nothing like having a spouse who’s in the middle of a big community development project to make my dissertation work feel incredibly selfish and irrelevant!

Sure, lists of tips for navigating this balancing act are helpful. But understanding and changing the triggers for this conflict would be more helpful for me. I think there is something in there about being raised with a certain mindset about women and moms who do most of the cleaning and organizing of the home. Plus, there’s something about how I am motivated by my emotions; how I feel is too often what causes me to make certain decisions. I want to feel useful, productive, and connected. But I also want to feel like I’ve accomplished something significant.

In the meantime, it’s back to the dissertation so I can FINISH and graduate, get a decent job, and earn enough money to hire someone to do the cleaning chores for me!