To PhD or not to PhD – that is the question.

7 Dec


Two interesting things are happening in my life right now:  Mr.JB is up for a big promotion and I am thinking about doing my PhD and returning to work.  The decision was never going to be straightforward, but I didn’t know it was going to reveal such interesting attitudes from people.

Let’s deal with the promotion first.  Mr.JB has a job that requires him to be on site for about 20 hours a week, and the rest of the time he has complete authority and flexibility to do his work where and when he pleases, which has been such a blessing while our children were really small.  He has never missed a practice or rehearsal or swimming lesson or school event, and he is deeply involved in the kid’s lives.  All of which is fantastic.

cheer dad

But Mr. JB would like more, and the opportunity has come up for him apply for a promotion which would double the time he needs to be on site or in the office, which means he would just have a regular 40 hour a week job like everybody else.  It also means he will miss a few school plays and dance rehearsals.  This promotion will be the pathway to the highest levels of administration in his field, which is where he would eventually like to end up.

Again, because we live in small town, Mr. JB’s boss called me up and asked me to meet him for lunch so he could discuss the position with me and figure out exactly how I felt about Mr. JB increasing his responsibilities.  That’s how we roll here.  It’s really nice, actually.  What BigBoss wanted to know was how this promotion might affect my own plans.


JudgyBitch has recently been admitted to a PhD program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and the first year of the program will be fairly intense and inflexible.  Class times are set, and that’s the deal.  After the first year, I will have virtually NO set times to do my work, and I have a lot of flexibility about how quickly I proceed through the program (I can finish in three to six years).

So BigBoss called me up and as we were talking, I realized that he was operating under a fairly interesting set of assumptions:


I would never consider delaying my program to advance Mr.JB’s career.  Well, that’s wrong.  I absolutely WOULD consider that, and honestly, that is the direction I’m leaning.  Our littlest daughter is only four and she was not interested in going to school and I am not interested in forcing her, so she is at home with me full time.  The demands of a full time program and a promotion are not looking compatible with MissBossyPants’ needs, and since I CHOSE to have her, her needs come before mine. Our FAMILY’S needs come before mine, and what our family needs is to have a solid income with the potential for advancement and that is just what Mr. JB brings to the table.



I can’t wait to leave my cosy kitchen and yoga pants and roll into an office everyday – hahahahahahahaha!  Yeah, right.  I’m so oppressed!  All I get to do all day is whatever the fuck I want and that’s just so terrible!  I’m downtrodden, I tell you!  Completely bored and stupefied and catatonic with the complete freedom to decide what I do all day, everyday.  Yeah, being a housewife is such a tough gig.  Hey, don’t get me wrong, housework kinda sucks.  But it has to get done anyways, and right now I do as much (or as little) as I damn well please, and that takes the sting out quite nicely.  I would be perfectly happy to see Mr.JB go full speed ahead with his career and leave me here in my apron, blogging and putzing around pretty much forever.  I have plenty of interests that I am pursuing and when ALL the children are in school, I can fill my days quite nicely.  Going back to work is not something I want to do at all.  I will if it makes sense for our family, because a small town professor (which is what I would be) makes six figures, and that is nothing to sneeze at, but money is not the only thing worth pursing in life.



I need to protect myself from Mr. JB.  This is by far the most interesting assumption people make about why I might want to go back to work. Mr. JB could be a bastard.  He could trade me in for Wife 2.0 and leave me and the children we have together to starve on the streets.  I need to have some way of protecting myself against the latent monster that Mr. JB (and by extension, all men) could end up being.  And you know, if I were a fat, screechy, whiny, complaining bitch, that might be a possibility, but except for the bitch part (which I keep for my blog), I’m not any of those things!  Mr. JB and I have a built a great life together, and there is no conceivable reason he would destroy that.  After 15 years, I think I know my husband, and he is not the sort of man who is going to walk out on his family and leave me penniless.  Even if he hated my guts (which he doesn’t), he STILL wouldn’t do it.  I absolutely hate when people imply that I need to be able to support myself and the children in the event “disaster” strikes.  You know what disaster is?  That Mr.JB DIES.  That would be a disaster of proportions I cannot even contemplate, but it wouldn’t be a financial disaster because we  have INSURANCE against such a terrible event.



We would be among the top income earners in the country and that is all that matters.  Oh hell no.  What am I going to do with money when I never see my husband or my children, I’m too exhausted to cook proper meals and all I want to do is sleep?  Yeah, I can start paying a nanny to take the kids to their events, buy epic amounts of useless shit to assuage my feelings of guilt and inadequacy, shove frozen pizza in the oven (or better yet, scream at Mr. JB to shove frozen pizza in the oven) and go on vacations by myself so I can get some rest.  Sounds like so much fun!  That would totally be worth whatever small amount of money I would have left over after paying for all that crap.  Yeah, no.


So given all that, why WOULD I consider returning to work?  There is really only one reason: to save the money I earn. Going back to work would allow me and Mr.JB to save enough money so that our children will have a good start in life.  We would have enough money to fund their educations (whatever they choose), provide them with a down payment for a home (getting into the housing market is tough for young people) and give them a year abroad to experience life as other people live it.

Sure, we would spend some of the money I earn on things like lessons for the kids and enriching vacations and flying our far away friends in for a visit, but we would save most of it.  Nothing in our life would really change that much.  No big house (no thanks – who the fuck is gonna clean it!?), no fancy car (the dumbest use of money ever, except maybe scented candles), no designer clothes (ugh – I dread the thought of having to buy work clothes – I hate shopping), no dinners out (I’m not spending money on food I can make better myself) and definitely no fucking expensive shoes.

Boots?  Yes!


Mr. JB and I have not decided what we will do, yet.  He wants the promotion and I want him to have it.  And as for the rest, well, I already have some boots and they’ll be good for a few years yet, so what’s the rush?

Life is precious.  And there is so much more to it than what you can buy.

Lots of love,


16 Responses to “To PhD or not to PhD – that is the question.”

  1. Me December 7, 2012 at 18:53 #

    I can’t even imagine my husband’s boss having this conversation with me. It almost seems inappropriate and probably against some HR regulation.


  2. judgybitch December 7, 2012 at 19:02 #

    Yeah, it probably is, but no one gvies a shit about HR regulations here. You want to move a guy up in the office? Best check with his wife.

    It’s a lovely way to live. And it keeps people honest, that’s for certain.


  3. happycrow December 7, 2012 at 19:03 #

    One of the many reasons that small towns rock. I would love to get back to one, tell the truth.


  4. judgybitch December 7, 2012 at 19:12 #

    I know! I’ve lived in some of the biggest cities in the world (Toronto, Manchester, Melbourne, Shanghai), and I was always a bit embarssed by my rural roots, but I would be happy to live here the rest of my life!


  5. YOHAMI December 7, 2012 at 19:38 #

    “PhD program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation” sounds like bullshit.

    Do you really want to innovate and do enterpreneurship? if so you can. Right away. Start a business.


  6. judgybitch December 7, 2012 at 19:47 #

    No, thanks. That is a lotof work, and I will happily leave it to entrepreneurs and innovators. I am neither. But I WILL teach students rudimentary skills like accounting, how to attract venture capital and other kinds of financing, how to make a business plan, marketing, etc.

    Entrepreneurship and Innovation are probably the two hottest specializations for undergrad business majors at the moment. That’s why I picked the field – so I would have a job at the end of it.

    Another small town wonder: The Dean of the business school here knows my huband very well, and he says I am virtually guaranteed to get a job once I’m ready. A home grown prof is just what the school wants!


  7. YOHAMI December 7, 2012 at 19:55 #



  8. Liz December 8, 2012 at 00:35 #

    Sounds like you have already made the right decision for your family, JB. You have your priorities straight.

    I went through something similar a few years back, our income was great with two high salaries but the hours I had to spend away from the kiddos (working the nightshift at the hospital…yeck, sounded great because I’d be home in the day but after working a 13 hour shift, and then many such shifts in a row, there was nothing left to give the family if I wanted to help my patients).

    I am glad for the knowledge I gained because it is valuable for my family, but regret the time apart from the kids (my husband is away an awful lot so this was basically single motherhood while working). They didn’t do well, and it was all my fault. I gave it up and am home with them now. Most interesting, when I brught up the fact that I blamed myself (for bad grades, bad behaviors, ect) he and his friends always said “no! you have a right to a career too…” Not true, IMO. It’s always the mother’s job to be a mother first. Unfortunately there is far more societal validation when you tell people you are a working professional than when you tell them you are a stay at home mother…that’s the new paradigm. If he were home or in a more flexible career it would be different, but he isn’t. And he is MUCH much happier now that I am home and have time for him…rather than juggling the kiddos around our collective schedules with “tag! you’re it! see ya…” and no time for each other. It’s like a second honeymoon.

    BTW…excellent site. 🙂


  9. judgybitch December 8, 2012 at 00:49 #


    Thank you so much for your story. I really am leaning towards letting the PhD go for a few years, and I have requested a deferral from my supervisors, but as one of them is a woman with small children at home, I’m not optimistic. She will likely take it as a personal criticism, and you know what? Fuck her.

    I’ll do what’s right for us. I give ZERO fucks about what other people think.


  10. Liz December 8, 2012 at 13:31 #

    The woman supervisor might be a hard case, but you can finesse it. I wouldn’t make any direct references to “staying at home is better” (though it is, you don’t want to burn a bridge) in this type of case I’d just mention that you feel the arrangement you have had with your husband has been very good for your children, and now that he has accepted a promotion some variables might change, he won’t be around as much, and you don’t want to risk their wellbeing.

    No one is likely to fault you for putting your family first. It’s the best possible thing you can do and the best answer you could give. Best of luck to you! 🙂


  11. Bill Powell December 10, 2012 at 16:21 #

    Great post JB, consider it tweeted to my legions of followers.


  12. judgybitch December 10, 2012 at 16:57 #

    Well thank you, Mr.Powell!


  13. happycrow December 10, 2012 at 21:25 #

    Didn’t want to respond to this one immediately, as I basically sacrificed two careers to land my chick and bring her across an ocean to me. At the end of the day, Ph.D is an enabler. The real question would be “what do I intend to do that I cannot do w/o said doctorate?” Especially when, iirc, you already have a master’s in business.

    I now work an entirely unremarkable “job.” It pays better-than-average, pays the bills, and makes absolutely ZERO demands on my family-and-wife time. If you’re as oriented that way as I am, and it seems you might be, I’d consider seeing how far you can and do want to go without the doctorate, first.


  14. Dave April 2, 2014 at 00:01 #

    Also, being a professor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation is not about being an entrepreneur at all…. it is about teaching basic skills and most importantly, learning how to research the field


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