Skip to:

A Day in the Life of a Grad Student Mom

Because your job can be fun! Excited to be part of a wonderful team!

Because your job CAN be fun! Excited to be part of a wonderful team!

5:42 am

“Wake up, mama! Mama, wake up! Wake up! Wake UP!” I hide my head in the comforter as I try to convince Aida, my two-year-old daughter, that we still have 18 minutes of sleep left. After serious negotiations, I give up. We slowly make our way to the kitchen where I press the magic button on the coffee maker, warm up Aida’s milk and cereal, and slice a banana. As the microwave beeps, Aida runs to the couch where she likes to have her cereal and watch her morning Mickey Mouse show.

6:00 am

It’s coffee time! I check my e-mail, read the news and glance over my friends’ Facebook updates. I look for the funny things that help me start my day just right. By the time I’m done, my coffee is gone and Aida has finished her breakfast. This is when the chaos begins. I run around the house while Aida tries to sabotage all my attempts to get her dressed, hair combed, shoes on and packed for daycare. I’m pretty sure this is the highlight of her day!

8:00 am

I’ve convinced Aida she wants to be in daycare and I’ve made it to campus. Today is a workday so I don’t get to wrestle with my dissertation until later. I arrive at my graduate assistantship and slowly make my way to my workspace as I catch up with my coworkers. I open the list I made for myself last time I was in the office: between two part-time jobs, dissertation, and being a mother, my memory just isn’t what it used to be. I go over work e-mails I’ve flagged over the past few days and add things to my task list while I dive into a Greek yogurt topped with almonds, coconut, and dark chocolate. Just amazing!!! Today’s highlights: update the SROP participant information spreadsheet, create a CTools site for Summer Institute and add resources for students, prepare recruitment materials for the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) Forum which I will attend tomorrow. It dawns on me that ten years have passed since I was a UROP student and it will be an honor to talk to this year’s SROP and UROP students about the opportunity to pursue a Ph.D.

12:00 pm

Waiting for the Festifools event to begin and taking advantage of everything Ann Arbor has to offer!

Waiting for the Festifools event to begin and taking advantage of everything Ann Arbor has to offer!

Lunch doesn’t always happen! At least not in conventional ways! At times I’m fortunate enough to organize a lunch event or workshop where I get to learn all kinds of interesting things; other times I sneak into a Rackham study room and write or edit parts of what I truly believe will become a dissertation; and sometimes I just work through lunch. But today is not one of those days! Today my friend, coworker, and fellow graduate student has decided we’re going out for lunch. She’s discovered this great lunch deal and she knows I’m obsessed with Ziti Pizza. We talk about graduate school, dissertation writing, plans for the future, and life in general. We return to Rackham well fed and ready to tackle the next few hours of work.

5:00 pm

I rush out of work to pick up Aida from daycare. Traffic can be really bad this time of day. Negotiations start immediately as Aida has decided she wants to stay at daycare just a little longer. On our way home we practice colors, shapes, and counting in Romanian. Being a first generation Romanian immigrant and Aida having been born in Romania during my field research, it only seemed natural for us to speak Romanian at home. After dinner we play: we color, we build, we make funny shapes out of play dough, we kick the ball around the house until we both crash exhausted. I guess I’ll start that work-out program my friend recommended tomorrow…or the day after…or maybe when the summer is here.

8:00 pm

Aida takes her bedtime drink, monkey, and “Baa Baa” to bed. “Baa Baa” is what we call my tablet on which Aida will now play various lullabies. After my few attempts to sing these myself, we’ve agreed it is better for everyone to have professional singers do what they do best. Tonight I get to read a colleague’s dissertation chapter to be discussed at the Anthropology and History Reading Group in a few days.

8:45 pm

Now that Aida is asleep I get to spend some time with my other “child.” My dissertation is currently in its infant stages and working on it reminds me, at times, of taking care of a colicky baby: long sleepless nights, forgetting when you ate last, or when you had contact with another human being. But when those moments pass—which happens pretty fast—and you get those “AHA” moments or when one of your drafts produces a highly constructive and exciting workshop discussion, you know you are on the right path. Tonight, I have to write something new: no editing, no recycling. I promised my dissertation-writing group I would have new material for them to review for our next meeting. I write a few pages and remember a related article I read a while back. I get distracted by reading for a while; I find new interesting articles and find myself exploring completely unrelated topics. I force myself to write a few more pages. I’ll edit them tomorrow over lunch.

11:45 pm

Time for bed! I lay there for a while writing my entire dissertation in my head. Everything seems to come together like pieces of a colossal puzzle. I’m certain I’ll remember all these brilliant ideas tomorrow morning, knowing that it never really happens that way. I try to cover Aida with her blanket…she kicks it away highly displeased…